Another blow for the Seattle Mariners bullpen came today, as the M’s placed RHP Erik Swanson on the 15-day injured list with elbow inflammation. The team recalled LHP Danny Young, who had just been optioned to Triple-A Tacoma yesterday. The injury is a brutal one for Swanson, who was enjoying a brilliant start to the season, with a 1.29 ERA and 2.21 FIP through 14.0 IP, striking out 39.6% of hitters he’d faced with just 1.9% earning free passes. With injuries sidelining RHP Casey Sadler for the entire season as well as holding out RHPs Matt Festa, Ken Giles, and Joey Gerber indefinitely, as well as the just-healthy Sergio Romo, Swanson’s role as a stopper has been invaluable for Seattle. That has been even more impactful given the struggles from veteran RHP Diego Castillo early this year, and leaves the M’s with significant challenges in both the micro and macro. The good news is Swanson’s injury at least appears not likely to cost him more than the full 15 days.
Swanson is dealing with what Scott Servais called a little bit of a nerve irritation behind the right elbow. It sounds like he perhaps could have been good in a few days but they can't go that long without the extra arm so he gets a break.— Shannon Drayer (@shannondrayer) May 14, 2022
Short term, tonight’s matchup will be particularly cramped, with both Paul Sewald and Drew Steckenrider working high-leverage stretches for Seattle in their 2-1 victory Friday night. Depending on the club’s confidence in Castillo, they may turn to RHP Andrés Muñoz in high-leverage moments should they arise, without much experience or certainty as to where those other innings may come from. It’s an opportunity for Romo as well as RHP Penn Murfee to make the most of increased opportunity, as the latter has performed near-flawlessly in his first 8.2 big league innings, albeit almost all in low-leverage situations.
The move is also of course another opportunity for Young, who shone in his big league debut earlier this week in Seattle’s blowout loss to the Philadelphia Phillies. It’s a nice chance for the funky lefty to show off his ultra-sweepy slider, and perhaps give the Mariners another look out of their righty-heavy bullpen if nothing else. The primary outcome however will be an unproven bullpen forced to face down what may be the toughest stretch of Seattle’s season thus far.