The Mariners are placing left-hander Marco Gonzales on the 10-day injured list after a Wednesday MRI revealed a left forearm strain, tweets Corey Brock of The Athletic. Manager Scott Servais tells reporters that Gonzales will miss at least “a couple starts.” He’s already begun treatment. Righty Domingo Tapia is being called up from the taxi squad to take Gonzales’ spot on the roster, tweets Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times.
It’s been a rough start to the season for the typically steady Gonzales. The 29-year-old has been the Mariners’ best pitcher in recent years and quietly been one of the league’s more effective lefties overall. From 2018-20, the former Cardinals first-rounder pitched to a 3.85 ERA with a 19.5 percent strikeout rate, a 5.2 percent walk rate and a 41.8 percent grounder rate. Along the way, Seattle inked Gonzales to a four-year, $30MM contract extension that includes a club option for the 2025 season as well.
Gonzales hasn’t looked much like himself this season, logging an ugly 5.40 ERA (4.80 SIERA) through his first five starts, which have lasted just 28 1/3 frames. Gonzales’ 19 percent strikeout rate is down from last year’s 23.1 percent (although close to his combined 2018-20 rate), but his 9.1 percent walk rate is his worst since his 2014 rookie campaign in St. Louis. His 88.1 mph average fastball velocity is also 1.8 mph south of his career mark.
However, it doesn’t appear that the forearm strain is at the root of those issues — or at least, Gonzales isn’t using it as any kind of excuse. Divish tweets that Gonzales says he only felt the discomfort crop up after his last outing. And to be fair to Gonzales, he’s fared quite a bit better in his three most recent starts than he did in his first two outings of the year. The lefty held the Dodgers to a run on six hits and a walk last week before limiting Houston to a pair of runs in six frames as recently as Monday.
Gonzales joins James Paxton (season-ending surgery) and Nick Margevicius (shoulder inflammation) as rotation arms on the injured list for Seattle. With that group sidelined, the M’s will look to Justus Sheffield, Chris Flexen, Yusei Kikuchi and Justin Dunn in the rotation. Their starter for Saturday’s game is still listed as TBD, though long relievers Ljay Newsome and/or Robert Dugger could perhaps step into that spot to head up a bullpen game.
Seattle also has some notable top pitching prospects thought to be on the cusp of big league readiness — 2018 first-rounder Logan Gilbert chief among them. Gilbert, the game’s No. 35 overall prospect at Baseball America, breezed through three minor league levels in his lone season of minor league ball in 2019. Through 135 levels spread across Class-A, Class-A Advanced and Double-A, he worked to a 2.13 ERA with 165 strikeouts (31.7 percent) against just 33 walks (6.3 percent).