After yesterday’s bullpen game following Justin Dunn’s two inning high wire act, roster moves were coming. Thanks to some impressive collectivism by the unheralded pen, at least a few players should be available again after only Casey Sadler was forced to work a second inning, but Kendall Graveman likely will get the day off after back to back outings. Combine that with a six-man rotation and Seattle needed length, which they hope they’ll get from Erik Swanson if needed, as he returns from the injured list .
#Mariners reinstate RHP Erik Swanson from 10-Day Injured List; LHP Aaron Fletcher optioned to alternate training site, INF/OF Tim Lopes appointed as "29th man" for today's doubleheader vs. Oakland.— Mariners PR (@MarinersPR) September 14, 2020
Swanson’s return is a reminder (hopefully) that the oft-ominous “forearm strain” can sometimes be as simple as that. Before he hit the infirmary, Michael Ajeto wrote about Swanny Pops locking in his excellent fastball, but still struggling to get outs thanks to having zero trusty secondaries. It’s hard to imagine much has changed in his rehab, but perhaps he’s played around with something different. Headed down is Aaron Fletcher, who has had shockingly poor command in his first six appearances. While his stuff has helped him miss bats as expected, he’s been downright non-competitive in multiple outings, and will get some more reps in the alternate site.
Lastly, for today’s doubleheader, which remains scheduled as I write this despite air quality equivalent to sticking your head down a chimney for about five minutes, Tim Lopes joins the club. It’s a sensible move after yesterday’s game featured a two player bench, as they now sport a full THREE reserves, leaving the M’s with 11 bullpen options today. Depending on your feelings on what the Mariners should do with themselves, selecting Lopes is either reasonable or disappointing, or both. Facing down a 1.5 game deficit (albeit more like 2.5 since they’ll need to have a superior record to Houston after losing the head-to-head tiebreaker, going 1-6 with just three games remaining), Seattle’s lineup today includes Phillip Ervin in right field and Lopes as the DH to face Athletics lefty Jesus Luzardo. The second game of the twinbill will likely be started by Ljay Newsome for Seattle and southpaw Mike Minor for Oakland. The Mariners’ best healthy 28 is split between Seattle and Tacoma, to some degree, which isn’t typically what teams do in a playoff race. Granted, the Mariners aren’t really in the playoff race, except that so long as they keep winning and playing above their heads, while the teams ahead of them scuffle, they are. Perhaps the M’s are simply playing platoon matchups for the day, and waiting to see what tomorrow’s standings look like.