The Mariners have agreed to a minor league pact with former Red Sox right-hander Marcus Walden. The signing was first announced by the Gastonia Honey Hunters of the independent Atlantic League, for whom Walden had been pitching to begin the season. Mariners director of Triple-A communications Paul Braverman tweets that Walden will join the team’s Triple-A rotation, making his first start today.
Now 34 years old, Walden pitched well in Boston from 2018-19, totaling 92 2/3 innings of 3.79 ERA ball with a 23.3% strikeout rate and 9.1% walk rate. That includes 78 frames of 3.81 ERA ball in a supercharged 2019 run-scoring environment that saw 58 players club at least 30 home runs. Walden was hit hard in 13 1/3 innings during the shortened 2020 campaign (14 runs in 13 1/3 innings) and hasn’t pitched in the Majors since, however. He’s had stints with the Triple-A clubs for the Red Sox, Cubs and Brewers along the way, pitching to a mid-4.00s ERA at each stop.
Over the past two seasons, Walden has spent 70 1/3 innings pitching with the Atlantic League’s Gastonia club, working to a combined 2.82 ERA. That includes 20 innings of 2.70 ball so far in 2023, though it’s perhaps his 24-to-2 K/BB ratio that’s garnered more attention (31.2% strikeout rate, 2.6% walk rate).
Seattle’s rotation took a huge hit early in the season when former AL Cy Young winner Robbie Ray required Tommy John surgery, but the team’s rotation remains strong. Luis Castillo, George Kirby and Logan Gilbert have all pitched well — Kirby, in particular — and rookie Bryce Miller has come up to the Majors and stepped seamlessly onto the starting staff. In 25 1/3 innings over his first four outings, he’s logged a sensational 1.42 ERA with a 25% strikeout rate against a 2.3% walk rate.
The fifth spot is a bit murkier. Veteran Marco Gonzales had been posting solid enough numbers for much of the season, but a recent eight-run drubbing at the hands of the Red Sox sent his ERA skyrocketing from 4.42 to 6.10. He’s now yielded eight runs in two of his past four starts (although three of those were unearned). Fellow vet Chris Flexen has struggled when he’s been asked to step into the rotation as well.
The journeyman Walden isn’t likely to jump into that mix anytime soon, but he’ll join southpaw Tommy Milone as an experienced arm in Tacoma who could be called upon for a spot start or to give the ’pen some length if the need arises. In 366 2/3 career innings at the Triple-A level, Walden has a 4.47 ERA.
Milone should be fitted with an ankle bracelet that alerts any and all authorities should he ever venture outside the Tacoma city limits.
I hate to see Marco Gonzales begin to fade, but the hard truth is that very few pitchers really stay around very long.
Gonzales has had a pretty good run, though, and I am glad for him in that regard.
$32 mill is a good pull for a few years as an average starter.
I personally think its unfair to judge Marco solely on his occasional clunkers like his last start in BOS. Marco might be “the weak-link” in the rotation but people need to put that into perspective:
The league average ERA for an SP5 is around 4.50.
Even this yr- In 5 of Marco’s 8 starts he has given up 3R or less, and 3 of those 5 starts were Quality Starts (6 or more ip, 3R or less.)
People only seem to recall his clunkers. No-one remembers games like his CG Shutout of the Angels last year where Trout got the “Golden Sombrero!”
I personally think fans compare Marco to our other 4 SEA Pitchers- I see and hear plenty of Mariners fans doing just that. Thats fantasy land.
Btw- This signing is just purely maintaining Org Pitching Depth. Imo The Mariners will promote Brian Woo before they use this guy.
What has always concerned me about Marco is that he has to locate pretty much perfectly in order to be effective. If he is even off his command a smidgen, he gets taken to task. Bombs away, because his max velo is like 90mph. So I’m always on pins & needles when he starts, even though I love his bulldog attitude & his artistry in pitching (when everything is on.)
In my opinion the game of Baseball desperately needs more Pitchers like Marco Gonzales. Marco is not afraid of contact, in fact he wants it. He obviously doesn’t want barrels or hard hits but much like he has done tonight in his 4th Quality Start, he wants weak contact and an alert defense behind him. Thats “the art of Pitching.”
Imo MLB needs more Pitchers like Marco because the game is currently trending toward Pitchers who are chasing K/0’s and elite velocities. IMO The modern game needs more balance with Pitchers like Marco.
The game would be better off if we saw more defenders show off their elite skills.
Don’t get me wrong, a 2H 7 inn shut out by Logan Gilbert or Bryce Miller is fun to watch but so is a well timed dbl play by your defense.
Ayrbhoy, I blame the bats when Marco loses. I have liked him since day one. But we gotta keep hitting.
I am pulling for him in tonight’s game against Oakland to once again impress us.
Mariners cornering the market on over-the-hill minor league mediocre-stars.
So is “Walden’s Sound” gonna be a suitable sequel if Marcus does a thorough job?
@DCartrow. Was that supposed to be some kind of pun on Walden Pond?
Instead of a mere pond it implies the whole Puget Sound?
I can’t imagine what else it could have been.
But if so, it was too far a reach to be successful.
i expect this guy to be slingin’ zeros outta the bullpen in no time