It's the end of the Aaron Harang era, do you care? The Mariners said goodbye to Aaron Harang this afternoon and replaced him with Franklin Gutierrez, who had been swimming around Tacoma during his fourth rehab assignment, the last of which he didn't even make it back to Seattle in between stints.
Harang exits Seattle with decent enough peripherals, but extremely poor results. The ERA never really leveled out with the xFIP and SIERA, so Harang parts with a sort-of bizzaro Matt Cain season, in which he vastly underperformed what his peripherals suggested he was due for. Harang was doomed by his inability to limit damage with runners on base and limit the long ball, despite having his best K/BB ratio since 2009.
So who's going to replace Harang? There's a chance it could be James Paxton, who last threw on August 22nd. But Twitter is abuzz with rumors that it could be Taijuan Walker, who is on the same throwing schedule as Harang. Walker could slot right into the Houston series if he got the call. A more likely scenario would be the return of Brandon Maurer to the rotation, or at the very least, a more sane scenario. Hector Noesi is another slightly sickening possibility. There's no use in discussing Walker any further unless it actually becomes a thing, which is certainly possible, but probably not. I'm not in favor of calling up Walker right now, filling up a 40-man spot before the offseason, and starting his clock when there's little reason to do so. Still, Zduriencik's comments about a 160 inning limit for Walker yesterday suggest it's a possibility. Tacoma's season is nearly over, and Walker should finish well short of that innings number.
Shannon Drayer reports:
Taijuan Walker, on the other hand, has thrown 136 1/3 innings (the Mariners count the inning he threw at the Futures Game). Goldsmith asked Zduriencik if Walker was up against his innings limit.
"He's getting close," Zduriencik answered. "We were gauging somewhere in the 160 range, give or take a little bit."
He won't reach 160 with the Rainers, as their season will end Sept. 2 if they do not make the playoffs. Could we see him make a start or two in Seattle? Zduriencik would not tip his hand on that subject.
Whatever happens, Endy Chavez is probably the guy to get the axe when the Mariners announce who's taking Harang's spot in the rotation. If it's Maurer, the team will need to reach out for a bullpen replacement, and an outfielder will get the boot. Given Gutierrez's history and standing with the team, I doubt it's him right after a recall, so it's probably Chavez, who's value is tied to being able to play center field, a position where the Mariners now field four possible candidates. Remember the annoying 40-man roster crunch that caused this team to lose Vinnie Catricala and Alex Liddi? It's pretty much gone, as now only 37 spots are occupied.
The most we will ever say about Aaron Harang and the Seattle Mariners again is "Remember Aaron Harang?" I have this game that I like to play, naming as many players from a team's roster in any given year. Ten years from now, this will be one of the guys that makes that game simultaneously fun and infuriating, along with Kameron Loe and Brandon Bantz.
The Mariners are replacing a non-effective starter with another non-effective starter. It's news, but unless Walker is the replacement, it isn't much news at all. I'm more excited that we could possibly see Franklin Gutierrez do a few more positive things on the tail end of his Mariners career. Stay healthy, just for a bit. We love you.