4:37pm: Milone will indeed step onto the roster to take the start, manager Scott Servais tells Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times (via Twitter).
4:24pm: The Mariners need a starter in what would’ve been righty Erik Swanson’s spot — Swanson was optioned to Triple-A last Friday — and MLB.com’s Greg Johns tweets that southpaw Tommy Milone is with the big league club right now. There’s been no formal announcement from the team, but Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times tweeted today that “all indications” suggested that Milone would start for the Mariners tomorrow. Seattle would need to formally select Milone’s contract and add him to the 40-man roster, which seems quite likely at this point.
Milone, 32, opened the season with the Mariners’ Triple-A affiliate in Tacoma and has pitched to a 3.83 ERA with 7.8 K/9, 2.2 BB/9, 1.28 HR/9 and a 37.7 percent ground-ball rate. Mariners fans would likely prefer to see the upside of top prospect Justus Sheffield rather than the veteran Milone, but manager Scott Servais told Johns and others recently that the team’s preference moving forward is to promote Sheffield only when he’s deemed ready for a long-term audition. It still seems quite likely that’ll come at some point this season, but Sheffield has pitched just 18 2/3 innings with a 4.82 ERA and a 21-to-14 K/BB ratio over his past four starts; it’s not as if he’s kicked in the door to the big leagues with his recent work.
Milone will join Marco Gonzales, Yusei Kikuchi, Wade LeBlanc and Mike Leake in the team’s starting five for now, though the length of his stay will surely be tied to his performance. Seattle does have alternatives in the upper minors, and GM Jerry Dipoto is never shy about adding options from outside the organization.