10:20pm: Not only did Haniger exit with an injury, but top starter Felix Hernandez departed the game with what manager Scott Servais said after the game was a “dead arm” (Twitter link via Divish). Both players are leaving Detroit and headed back to Seattle to get looked at by doctors, with Hernandez’s shoulder apparently the primary area of focus. Divish tweets that Hernandez asked not to speak to the media before leaving the clubhouse and was “visibly upset” upon exiting.
Suffice it to say, any notable absence for Hernandez will be a significant blow for a Mariners rotation that is already without Drew Smyly for at least the first two months of the season. The Mariners did stock up on optionable, upper-level pitching depth this offseason — Chris Heston, Robert Whalen, Dillon Overton and Chase De Jong were all acquired in trades — but asking two of those names to replace the likes of Smyly and King Felix for any amount of time is a tall order.
From 2015-16 (and so far in 2017), the 31-year-old Hernandez hasn’t been the dominant Cy Young candidate that most had come to expect throughout his mid-20s. However, he still notched an ERA comfortably south of 4.00 in both of those seasons and entered play Tuesday with a 3.65 mark and a brilliant 20-to-1 K/BB ratio in 24 2/3 innings. Hernandez, though, was shelled by the Tigers tonight, allowing four runs on six hits and two walks before departing after just two innings of work.
8:39pm: Mariners right fielder Mitch Haniger, one of the early candidates for American League Rookie of the Year honors, exited tonight’s game with a strained oblique muscle, per Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times. While there’s no further word on the severity of the injury, oblique strains have a reputation for lingering for a month or more. The Mariners, of course, won’t provide further updates until tonight’s game is wrapped up. However, Divish adds in his column that Triple-A outfielder Ben Gamel is expected to replace Haniger on the 25-man roster, thereby suggesting that a trip to the disabled list is in Haniger’s future.
The 26-year-old Haniger is off to an astonishing start to the season, having compiled a robust .338/.442/.600 batting line through his first 95 plate appearances (including two hits in his two plate appearances tonight). Acquired alongside Jean Segura in the offseason trade that sent Taijuan Walker to the D-backs, Haniger has also clubbed four homers and stolen two bases. On the defensive side of the coin, both Defensive Runs Saved and Ultimate Zone Rating consider his work to be above-average (superlative, in the case of DRS, which already pegs him at +5 runs through just 176 innings).
[Related: Seattle Mariners Depth Chart]
The Mariners have plenty of outfield depth, although that depth took a bit of a hit over the weekend when the team rather surprisingly designated Leonys Martin for assignment. Even with Martin currently in DFA limbo, however, the Mariners have Guillermo Heredia, Jarrod Dyson, Taylor Motter and Danny Valencia as outfield-capable assets on the 25-man roster. In the minors, Gamel and Boog Powell are both on the 40-man roster. Top organizational prospect Tyler O’Neill, too, opened the season in Triple-A, though he’s played just 18 games at that level and has not gotten off to a strong start to the year (.208/.266/.417, 21 strikeouts in 79 plate appearances).