The Mariners announced they’ve selected left-hander Roenis Elías onto the big league roster. Seattle had optioned reliever Drew Steckenrider to Triple-A Tacoma last night to clear a spot on the active roster. In order to open space on the 40-man, righty Riley O’Brien has been designated for assignment.
It’s the second time Elías has gotten a major league call, although this stint figures to be more lasting. The 33-year-old was brought up for a series in Toronto when a handful of Seattle players went on the restricted list because of their vaccination status. Elías was a designated COVID-19 substitute for that weekend, however, and he was removed from the 40-man roster and returned to Triple-A after a few days. He made one appearance, allowing a run on a hit and two walks in one inning.
Elías has otherwise spent the season in Tacoma, making 14 appearances. He’s worked 17 1/3 innings of 3.63 ERA ball, posting lower than average strikeout (17.6%) and walk (6.8%) marks. Elías has yet to allow a home run this year in spite of a fairly ordinary 44.6% ground-ball rate. He’ll offer manager Scott Servais a multi-inning arm out of the bullpen.
Steckenrider had been a key reliever for the M’s last season. An offseason minor league signee, the righty made the Opening Day roster and eventually pitched his way into high-leverage work. He wound up posting an even 2.00 ERA through 67 2/3 innings, an impact contributor to a bullpen that was among the reasons the M’s overperformed and won 90 games. Steckenrider’s below-average strikeout and grounder numbers suggested he wasn’t likely to be quite so dominant again, but he showed solid control and was generally reliable.
That hasn’t been the case in 2022, as his early performance has dipped more than anyone would’ve seen coming. Through 14 1/3 frames, he owns a 5.65 ERA. His already fringy 21.7% strikeout percentage has dropped to just 14.7%, and he’s surrendered a pair of homers. The M’s can only hope that a stint with the Rainiers can get Steckenrider more reasonably back on track, as Seattle has had one of the league’s least effective relief corps this year.
Seattle acquired O’Brien from the Reds in exchange for cash last month. The 27-year-old made just one big league appearance with his hometown club, spending the rest of his time on optional assignment to Tacoma. He’s allowed five runs in ten innings at the minors top level, striking out 14 but issuing 11 walks. O’Brien has worked exclusively in relief this year after starting 22 of his 23 outings with the Reds’ highest affiliate last season, where he pitched to a 4.55 ERA across 112 2/3 frames.
The Mariners will have a week to trade O’Brien or try to run him through outright waivers. The 27-year-old only has a pair of MLB appearances to his name. He’s had success missing bats at the Triple-A level but also dealt with some control concerns. O’Brien still has a couple minor league option years remaining and has already been traded twice in his career, so it’s certainly possible he changes hands again in the coming days.