After injuries to Taijuan Walker and Adrian Sampson, we all knew some roster moves were coming. We just weren't sure exactly what that shakeup would look like. Now we do:
Big news from Scott Servais: Nori Aoki, Wilhelmsen to Triple-A. Sampson to DL. Activated are Wade LeBlanc, Donn Roach and David Rollins.— Brent Stecker (@Stecker710) June 24, 2016
In a moderately surprising move, the M's have decided to option Norichika Aoki to Tacoma and roll with a short bench in order to add an extra arm to their bullpen. This is probably a good idea because the Mariners relief corps has been leaned on pretty heavily as of late. Over the last week, M's relievers have pitched 45% of the team's innings and thrown 46% of the team's pitches. (For comparison, their bullpen has thrown just 35% of the innings/pitches on the season; this is a pretty significant increase.) At this juncture, with so many relievers on the DL and so much uncertainty re: M's pitchers in general, it's probably a good idea to make sure they don't overuse and/or break anyone. It'll be interesting to see if Seattle decides to stick with an eight-man 'pen for an extended period of time or if they'll make some more moves in the near future.
So what does this mean?
- Wade LeBlanc will immediately slot into the M's rotation. He's getting the start tonight. If you're unfamiliar with LeBlanc, I suggest that you go read this thing that Kate wrote.
- By adding Rollins, the M's now have three lefties in their bullpen. This will give Servais even more flexibility when it comes to trying to mix and match pitchers/batters late in ballgames. (I don't know that he will necessarily use this flexibility in a good/smart way, but I guess it's always nice to have more options.)
- Donn Roach joins MiMo and Nuno in the M's bullpen as a guy who could start an MLB game, but maybe it wouldn't be the best? In the short-term, he'll probably be used mostly in relief. However, depending on the severity of Tai's injury, he may stick around for awhile and make some spot starts. We'll see!
- With the departure of Aoki, we will be seeing more of Guti and O'Malley in the outfield. Maybe we'll even see Cruz out there more, with Dae-ho Lee getting some starts at DH? Overall, this change will almost certainly benefit the M's bats without costing them much/anything on defense. It will, however, limit their ability to call for a pinch-hitter or pinch-runner late in games.