The Seattle Mariners announced Tuesday that they have placed RHP Bryan Woo on the 15-day injured list with right forearm inflammation. The club announced they were promoting RHP Ryder Ryan to help bolster the bullpen, with Emerson Hancock to take Woo’s place in the rotation for Wednesday’s game at a minimum, with the schedule ensuring Woo will miss at least two starts. Additionally, the Mariners designated RHP Matt Festa for assignment and claimed RHP Ryan Jensen from the Chicago Cubs. The 40-man roster remains full at 40.
The timing here is intriguing, as Woo’s IL stint is backdated to August 5th following his last outing, meaning he would be eligible to return as soon as August 20th. It is entirely plausible that Woo’s injury is indeed significant, which would be a devastating blow to an M’s club already missing LHPs Robbie Ray and Marco Gonzales. Down now to their final high profile prospect in Hancock, with RHP Taylor Dollard out for the season as well, the club hopefully is being cautious with Woo and utilizing the most off-day heavy stretch of their remaining schedule to give Woo additional recuperation time. Woo had Tommy John surgery in his draft year prior to being selected, so he is not a stranger to forearm and elbow issues, but has been fairly healthy as a pro. That surgery was part of what allowed the M’s to snag the talented righty in the 6th round of the 2021 draft instead of earlier, but as such his workload has ben limited, topping out at 57.0 innings pitched in 2022 and now already nearly double that at 99.0 IP in 20 starts (44.0 IP in nine starts in Double-A Arkansas) in 2023. Hopefully this is a tactical move by Seattle and Woo to incorporate some rest, as opposed to a sign of something more severe.
The rest of the moves are more tangential but have intrigue of their own. Ryder Ryan has had a journey and a half to what, if he pitches, would be his big league debut, with this being his first call-up to the show. Ryan signed a minor league deal with the Mariners in January and has been dynamite for Triple-A Tacoma after spending his career across three organizations, first as a 30th round pick in the 2016 draft by the Cleveland Guardians, then the New York Mets after being traded to NYC for future Mariners great Jay Bruce, and afterwards the Texas Rangers who acquired him in exchange for longtime big leaguer Todd Frazier. Ryan also featured on the U.S. Olympic team in 2021 in the Tokyo games. More recently, he opted out in June and then re-signed with Seattle, staying in Tacoma but clearly earning the trust of the M’s enough for them to select his contract to the 40-man roster on August 3rd, keeping him in the organization in lieu of another presumed opt-out, and giving a notable pay bump. Now, after eight years in the minors, the 28-year-old is a big leaguer, at least for a day. He’s a fastball-slider arm predominantly, with a 3.54/4.19 ERA/FIP and 23.3-8.7 K-BB% in 40.2 innings at Triple-A Tacoma this year.
Ryder Ryan strikes out 2 in the 7th. pic.twitter.com/3c9UycwkK4— Mariners Minors (@MiLBMariners) June 30, 2023
Festa may likely clear waivers, as the longest-consecutively-tenured Mariners organization player selected in the amateur draft at the moment recently hit the IL in Tacoma with arm soreness. Jensen is a fireballing 25-year-old from Salinas, CA who starred at Fresno State University en route to being selected 27th overall in the 1st round of the 2019 draft by the Lovable Losers. That selection was seen as a reach at the time, and unfortunately the worries about the righty have borne out to some degree as he’s struggled to keep the ball anywhere near the zone enough to be effective. In 53.0 innings between Double-A Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa this year, the 6’0 fireballer has struck out 66 but walked 46. Seattle may have good cause to try and work with Jensen, as pitchers who can miss bats and generate significant groundball rates are rare and prized, and all of his offerings show plus capabilities at times, but in his first season as a full-time reliever he has looked like a project. You can see what’s to like in the stuff.
I had a lot of questions like “why was Ryan Jensen added to the Cubs 40-man over…?”— Greg Zumach (@IvyFutures) November 16, 2022
Many deserving candidates, but Jensen is just a different pitcher now. His improved 4sFB, CT, and SL generate whiffs. This is the profile of a guy who could be nasty out of the pen this season. pic.twitter.com/T7poXWTnJI