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Mariners lose game of hide-n-seek with DL, make roster moves

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Rolled the 2018 Mariners up in an old Oriental carpet and the cold specter of injury still found us, what’re you gonna do

MLB: Seattle Mariners at Minnesota Twins
zooming up that I-5 corridor like
Jordan Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Last night, Guillermo Heredia was removed from the Rainiers game in the fourth inning, after he’d singled and scored a run. My initial concern was an injury—Guillermo was hit on the wrist by a Francis Martes fastball the other day, the flamethrowing Houston Astro who you might remember from a brief majors stint last year and have filed mentally under “Unit, Absolute.” But an eagle-eyed observer at Cheney reported he saw Guillermo leaving with his bag packed, and now we know why:

Tacoma’s roster is flush with outfielders (Miller, Perkins, Werth, Andreoli, Nieuiewenhuis I’m sorry Kirk I can’t ever spell your name right), so it doesn’t look like anyone from Double-A Arkansas will be moved up, apologies to the Braden Bishop and Chuck Taylor fans among us. Reliever Darin Gillies is on a plane, per his Instagram, and since Texas League travel is ground-based, it’s a fair bet that he’ll come up to occupy the spot. Gillies has struggled a little with his command early in the season, leading to a sky-high walk rate, but is also punching batters out at a brisk clip and offers the ability to work in multi-inning situations. These kinds of things always have ripple effects, however, so we’ll update this post once we know more about the Seattle Mariners Minors Shuffle (last year’s big dance hit).

It was only a matter of time before an injury would spark Casey Lawrence’s recall to the club; he showed up well in his brief Tacoma stint where he stayed stretched out as a starter, with a strong K-BB ratio. And it’s probably not surprising that Erasmo Ramírez is headed back to the DL; he hasn’t looked right in either of his outings, and his fastball has been incredibly hittable, lifeless and arrow-straight. His pitiful fastball isn’t the only problem; he’s down a couple velo ticks on all of his pitches across the board. He’s clearly not fully healthy, and might not be for a while:

The bigger surprise here is moving Dan Altavilla to the DL. For as much as Diesel Dan seems like an unassailable tank of a man, he hasn’t looked sharp lately, far from the weapon of quad destruction he was during spring training. His disastrous outing in Cleveland, for as much fun as internet-types had with the “just a bit outside” gif, during which he couldn’t throw anything near the strike zone, seems to have been the final straw. Hopefully it’s nothing too serious for the resilient Altavilla, who has never spent significant time on the DL in his career.

The injury to Erasmo creates some intrigue around the fifth starter position, as there’s no clear-cut frontrunner to fill the job. Perhaps Wade LeBlanc slides over and he and Casey Lawrence share “bullpen day” duties, but that seems to tax an already-thinned bullpen, unless another roster move is pending. Aríel Miranda was fine in a five-inning spot start against Houston but hasn’t looked great in Tacoma, with an FIP north of five and a K/9 and BB/9 that are almost identical. Roenis Elías was recently re-acquired but hasn’t pitched in the majors in two years due to injury and ineffectiveness. Rob Whalen might be the best candidate; he’s had some shaky outings in Tacoma but is running the best K-BB rate out of the three and when the curveball command is dialed in, even major-leaguers can’t hit it, as we saw in the Spring Training game against Colorado. Christian Bergman has been quietly effective in Tacoma, although his numbers are inflated by playing against the Sacramento River Cats, of whom he is owner-operator, and might be a good option if they don’t want to rush Whalen. (Max Povse has good strikeout numbers but don’t be deceived by them; he needs to develop more consistency before he can be relied upon in the majors. Andrew Moore and Chase De Jong are pitching in Double-A and probably not in this conversation but might see themselves promoted to Triple-A after a move is made.)

Injury news is never good news, but let us all take a minute to relish the fact that Guillermo is re-joining the club, and our lives are full of light and joy again:

How I’ve missed my near-daily dose of Vitamin G.