The Mariners announced Thursday that they’ve selected the contract of right-hander Robert Dugger to the 40-man roster and called him up from their taxi squad as the 27th man for their doubleheader against the Orioles.
Dugger, 25, will now have the chance to pitch for the club that originally drafted him in the 18th round back in 2016. That appeared unlikely not long ago, as Seattle traded him to the Marlins alongside righty Nick Neidert and infielder Christopher Torres in the trade that brought Dee Strange-Gordon to the Mariners.
Things didn’t pan out for Dugger in Miami. He posted strong numbers through Class-A and Double-A before struggling immensely at Triple-A in 2019 (albeit in the juiced-ball season of an already hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League). The Fish called Dugger to the big leagues for a look both in 2019 and 2020, but he was tattooed for a 7.40 ERA in a total of 45 innings. Miami tried to pass him through waivers to open a 40-man spot back in December, but the Mariners scooped him back up — only to later DFA him after signing Ken Giles. Seattle then succeeded in passing Dugger through waiver themselves.
While Dugger hasn’t had success above the Double-A level, last year’s small sample of work included a nearly two-mile-per-hour jump in fastball velocity (90.3 mph average to 92.1 mph) as well as some notable spin-rate increases on that four-seamer (2191 rpm in 2019; 2321 rpm in 2020) and on his slider (2311 rpm to 2443 rpm).
Dugger will be available out of the ’pen behind Marco Gonzales in Game 1 and Justin Dunn in Game 2 today. He still has a minor league option remaining, so the Mariners can shuttle him between their alternate site/Triple-A and the Majors for the remainder of the season without exposing him to waivers if the change of scenery brings about some improvement in his overall results.