The Mariners made the following roster moves today:
Félix to the IL is a little bit of a surprise, although his last two starts were very poor, and his numbers are trending...badly, as you can see on this graph from Brooks showing slugging percentage on each of his pitches since the start of the season:
There’s been virtually no velocity change on any of Félix’s pitches, and actually batters on swinging less on his pitches in the zone, his swinging strike rate is up, and he’s got batters chasing outside the zone more. The big difference is in hard contact rates, up to a career-high 45%, and a brutal 21% HR/FB rate. This might simply be a reset for Félix rather than a true IL stint.
Braden Bishop is also being optioned back to Tacoma, because apparently more Jay Bruce outfield defense is the thing the Mariners feel fans deserve to see. J.P. Crawford and Shed Long both being up does create a little bit of a logjam in trying to get both Ryon Healy and Tim Beckham at-bats, but optioning Braden back to Tacoma means the Rainiers now have a centerfield logjam. That might indicate the team feels Mallex Smith is ready to come back, although he’s had a grand total of 38 PAs in Tacoma at the time of this writing.
The Mariners did send Bishop off with a little something:
After optioning Braden Bishop last night, the Mariners had him fly back to California so he could be with his mom on Mother's Day instead of joining the Rainiers immediately.— Ryan Divish (@RyanDivish) May 12, 2019
The Mariners bolstered their bullpen with a pair of call-ups: returning to the team is Dan Altavilla, who was optioned to Tacoma at the end of March. Altavilla struck out 11 batters in his 4.2 innings at Tacoma, but he also walked five, and then was optioned again to Double-A Arkansas on April 19 for a “re-set” and to recover his ability to throw strikes. In 7.2 innings for the Travelers, Altavilla struck out 10 and cut his walks down to just two. He looked utterly dominant against hopeless Double-A batters, so hopefully that will inspire a return to “Diesel Dan.”
The Mariners also purchased the contract of RHP Parker Markel, who has been a strikeout machine for Tacoma. Markel was drafted in 2010 and toiled in the minors for almost a decade, including a stop in Indy League ball, before getting to make his major league debut in Sunday’s game. He flashes a nasty slider at 83 and a mid-90s fastball that he can occasionally struggle to command, as his walk rate in Tacoma will attest. His first major-league inning won’t look like a pretty line, but it’s worth pointing out that Markel probably should have been out of the inning before the Red Sox scored twice off him:
Markel should have been out of the inning and instead he’s got two on now. pic.twitter.com/4tT5OMKfyL— Lookout Landing (@LookoutLanding) May 12, 2019
The low strike wasn’t there all day, but that especially dinged Markel, who likes to work low in the zone and relies heavily on his slider. (Narvaez is also especially poor at framing pitches low in the zone, although this looked like a straight miss from HP umpire Quinn Wolcott, who had just been shaken up badly on a foul tip.) It will be interesting to see how long the Mariners keep Markel around if Mallex Smith is due to come back, or if they’ll option Shed Long back if Dee is ready to go after the off-day on Wednesday. There’s undoubtedly more roster shuffling to come, especially with the pitching staff; Wade LeBlanc is nearing a return, and Sam Tuivailala will also be eligible to return in about a week and a half, with Gerson Bautista right behind him. Both are currently doing rehab stints in Modesto with the Nuts.