The Mariners announced some roster moves in between games of today’s doubleheader. They have selected the contract of left-hander Tommy Milone, with right-hander Matt Festa being optioned to create room on the active roster. In order to make space on the 40-man roster, righty Joey Gerber has been designated for assignment.
Milone, 35, is a veteran who appeared in each season from 2011 to 2021. As soon as he gets into a game here in 2022, it’ll mark his 12th straight MLB season. He’s appeared for many teams in that time, including a previous stint with the Mariners in 2019, as well as spells with the Nationals, Athletics, Twins, Mets, Orioles, Braves and Blue Jays. One of the softest throwers in the league, Milone is able to survive by limiting free passes. His 17.7% career strikeout rate is certainly low, given that this year’s league average is around 22%. However, his 5.6% walk rate is a few ticks below this year’s 8.3% league average.
Signed to a minor league deal in the offseason, Milone has made seven starts for Triple-A Tacoma this year. In 32 innings, he has a 1.13 ERA, with a 24.8% strikeout rate and 6.8% walk rate. That tiny ERA is certainly nice, but is likely being depressed by a .208 BABIP and 100% strand rate, neither of which are sustainable. Nevertheless, the Mariners will give him a shot to see if he can replicate those kinds of results at the big league level.
As for Gerber, 25, he was an eighth round selection of the Mariners in the 2018 draft. A pure reliever, he’s never made a start in his professional career. He pitched well in the lower levels of the minors and earned his way up to Double-A in 2019. In 22 2/3 innings there that year, he put up a 1.59 ERA with a whopping 31.3% strikeout rate, 7.3% walk rate and 37.5% ground ball rate. In 2020, the minor leagues were wiped out by the pandemic, but he was able to reach the majors, throwing 15 2/3 innings for the Mariners that year. Despite always racking up Ks in the minors, he only struck out 9.7% of hitters he faced in the bigs, though in a small sample size.
Despite those promising minor league numbers and making his MLB debut at the age of 23, he has since hit a wall due to injuries. Back surgery prevented him from pitching at all in 2021, either in the majors or minors. This year, a forearm strain has kept him out of action, except for a single-inning appearance in the Complex League on June 11. His current health situation isn’t publicly known, but will certainly have a bearing on next steps. Since injured players can’t be placed on outright waivers, it’s possible that Gerber ends up on release waivers in the coming days.