After being optioned to Tacoma on May 5th, Mike Zunino makes his return to Seattle following a little over two weeks of demolishing AAA pitching.
#Mariners recall Emilio Pagan & Mike Zunino from AAA Tacoma. Tuffy Gosewisch, Chris Heston & Daniel Vogelbach optioned to AAA.— Ryan Divish (@RyanDivish) May 22, 2017
Zunino has done just about everything that could be hoped for since returning to Tacoma. He’s hit five homers in 45 PAs, struck out at just an 11.1% rate vs. 8.9% BB rate, and put together a 169 wRC+. His BABIP hasn’t done him any favors either, with just a .226 rate in AAA this year. Equally importantly, Tuffy Gosewisch shall no longer afflict the starting lineup with his league-worst -58 wRC+ (min. 30 PAs). Zunino could come back having made no improvements whatsoever and still be a dramatic upgrade over what the team has done so far, though hopefully his improved success with hitting balls hard in the zone will translate at least a little bit. His defense will be a boost as well.
Chris Heston departs to make room for RHP Emilio Pagan as the Mariners take their time deciding who will start on May 27th. They’ll proceed immediately with a set rotation, most likely, of Christian Bergman tomorrow, followed by Sam Gaviglio, Ariel Miranda, and Yovani Gallardo. The extra bullpen arm of Pagan will allow for more flexibility until Saturday, when perhaps we will see Rob Whalen make his Mariners debut.
Yes, that does mean the fabled nine-man bullpen.
Daniel Vogelbach will head back down to Tacoma to continue kicking rocks after Danny Valencia’s MRI revealed no damage to bones and he’s expected to be healthy Tuesday or Wednesday. Vogey will continue to work on sharpening his approach, though he continues to pepper AAA pitching as usual. With Valencia posting a 127 wRC+ and a .271/.350/.467 line in the last 30 games, the urgency isn’t there, especially without a DH spot with six upcoming National League games.
All of this also indicates that Robinson Canó is on schedule to be activated off of the 10-day DL on Tuesday and rejoin the team after healing from his quad strain. Nelson Cruz is expected to play some right field during the Nationals and Rockies series’ but having Canó back, among a myriad reasons, is valuable for taking some of the burden off of Nellie. With Canó back, the black hole at the catcher position returning to a more manageable inter-dimensional rift, and Mitch Haniger on schedule to return later this week, the offense may once again be in position to compete in some shootouts.