Miranda was pulled with two outs the second inning — his shortest outing of the season — after allowing four runs on six hits with three walks. It may be time to consider taking him out of the rotation.
ARLINGTON, Texas — In the past, when Ariel Miranda went through these sorts of struggles, his spot in the starting rotation remained safe because the Mariners simply didn’t have a viable arm to replace him.
But the situation is a little different now with roster expansion and James Paxton and Felix Hernandez re-entering the rotation later this week. There are viable options available now.
Following Seattle’s 5-3 loss to the Rangers on Monday in which Miranda was pulled with two outs the second inning — his shortest outing of the season — after allowing four runs on six hits with three walks, manager Scott Servais hinted they could remove the one pitcher from the opening-day rotation that has not missed a start this season.
Mariners @ Texas, 5:05 p.m., ROOT Sports
With the loss, the Mariners dropped to 71-73 and 3½ games behind of the Twins, who hold the second wild-card spot.
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“Miranda has taken the ball every time out there for us all year, but he just didn’t have much in the tank at all tonight,” Servais said. “You could see that early on.”
Sure, Miranda threw six no-hit innings in his last outing that also included six walks. But that may have been the outlier outing in a series of rough starts. He has only pitched six complete innings twice in 12 starts since July 1. Over that span, he’s allowed 44 runs in 59 innings for a 6.71 ERA with 27 walks and 61 strikeouts.
Miranda has made 29 starts this season, posting an 8-7 record with a 4.90 ERA. The 158 innings thrown is a career high. While the Mariners felt his commitment to conditioning in between starts would keep him strong until the end of the season, it appears now that he is wearing down.
“He’s running on fumes right now,” Servais said. “I appreciate how he competes and how he goes out there; there are certain nights you just don’t have it. He didn’t have it at all tonight. We’ll take a look at where he’s at a couple days from now.”
So if Miranda gets pulled from the rotation, who could be his replacement?
Well, the best candidate also pitched Monday night. Rookie Andrew Moore came on in the third inning and delivered a solid performance, pitching six innings and allowing one run on one hit — a solo homer from Delino DeShields — with a walk and seven strikeouts.
“Awesome job by Andrew Moore,” Servais said. “He threw the ball outstanding. We’ll certainly look at possibly sliding him into the rotation in that spot as we move forward. He’s got plenty left in his tank, which is great to see at this time of the year for a young guy.”
It was back-to-back strong outings for Moore, who threw six innings, and allowed two runs on three hits against the Astros on Wednesday.
“It felt really good,” Moore said. “It was just like the last time. I’m getting in good counts and the offspeed was there action-wise and location-wise and then finishing with fastballs above the zone.”
Miranda was in trouble from almost the start Monday. With one out in the first inning, he gave up a single to Shin Soo-Choo and walked Elvis Andrus. It looked like Miranda had added to his league-leading total of 35 homers allowed when he left a 0-2 fastball up in the zone to Nomar Mazara.
The pitch was rerouted at a high rate of speed to deep right-center. But the line drive hit off the wall instead of going over it or through it, allowing both runners to score. After giving up a single to Robinson Chirinos that put runners on the corners with one out, Miranda kept the damage to two runs, retiring the next two batters.
But it became clear in his second inning that his outing wasn’t going to improve.
A one-out walk to No. 9 hitter Ryan Rua and an infield bunt single to DeShields set up another double to the gap. This time Choo pummeled a 2-0 fastball up in the zone into left-center to score both runners. Miranda made it through two more batters before being lifted with two outs. Reliever Ryan Garton got the final out of the inning to stop the bleeding.
Miranda’s sluggish start put the Mariners behind early, and their offense couldn’t seem to get much going as a whole. Their total offensive output belonged to Mitch Haniger and Kyle Seager. Seattle mustered six hits on the night and Haniger had three of them.
Seager cut the 2-0 lead in half in the second inning with a solo homer to right field off Rangers starter Cole Hamels.
An inning later with the deficit back to three runs, Haniger crushed a two-run homer to left field. He also had a double and single. But that was it. The Mariners went 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position, stranded seven men on base and struck out 11 times.
“We just couldn’t get anything going late in the ballgame,” Servais lamented. “A lot of that was attributed to the strikeouts.”
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