Today the Mariners recalled Tony Zych from the 10-day DL and optioned Dillon Overton back to Tacoma. Overton, the tall lefty from Oklahoma, struggled in Wednesday’s 10-5 heartbreaker to the Astros. In just two games (1.1 IP), Overton allowed three hits and three runs, and didn’t seem to have the same feel for his developing curve that he was starting to flash at spring training. The changeup is still a legitimate weapon, an excellent swing-and-miss pitch, but in order to have MLB success he needs to have better results with his fastball in order to set up his offspeed stuff. The Angels weren’t able to do much against him in an inning in a 1-5 loss, as he was able to get ahead of them with the fastball before putting them away with the deadly changeup, but he showed very spotty command against the Astros, who punished him for it. Overton’s fastball is Iwakuma-speed, so like Kuma, he needs to have pinpoint accuracy in order to be successful. Hopefully he was able to get some tips from the Bear that he can work on in Tacoma, where he will be under the watchful eye of pitcher-whisperer Lance Painter.
Zych returns to the Mariners later than intended, due to Tacoma getting rained out a bunch of times. With the Rainiers, Zych only made one appearance, for one inning, where he gave up three hits and three runs. The runs all came on a three-run home run by Kyle Blanks, a 30-year-old AAA lifer, after Zych had allowed hits to Kelby Tomlinson and actual-prospect Christian Arroyo. Zych did throw a simulated inning for Dipoto and Servais at Safeco which seemed to garner positive reports—not just from leadership, but from Zych himself, who noted just getting back on an MLB mound felt good.
Zych adds another power arm to the ‘pen, which hopefully will spell Dan Altavilla some, who has been leaned on heavily in these first weeks (he leads all M’s relievers in games played, and only Casey Fien had pitched more than Altavilla and Nick Vincent). However, the departure of both Fien and Overton leaves the Mariners without a real long reliever; Vincent is the most likely candidate, but he’s struggled with health throughout his career. Most likely, some combination of Vincent, Altavilla, and James Pazos will be used in multi-inning situations as a bridge to Zych and Edwin Díaz, with Evan Marshall munching up innings in between. Keep an eye on Tacoma, however, where Chris Heston pitched seven scoreless innings yesterday, and currently has 15 strikeouts in 12 IP.