SUNDAY: Altavilla has a Grade 1 flexor mass strain in his right forearm, manager Scott Servais told Greg Johns of MLB.com and other reporters Sunday. He’ll “be down a little while” as a result, Servais added (Twitter link).
FRIDAY: The Mariners announced Friday that they’ve placed right-handers Juan Nicasio and Dan Altavilla on the disabled list, recalled first baseman Dan Vogelbach from Triple-A Tacoma and selected the contract of right-hander Mike Morin. Nicasio is dealing with right knee effusion, while Altavilla’s injury is more troubling: a sprained right ulnar collateral ligament.
It’s another hit to the Seattle bullpen depth, which serves to underscore the importance of their early acquisition of Alex Colome in last month’s swap with the Rays. Nicasio and Altavilla will join David Phelps (Tommy John surgery), Nick Vincent (strained groin) and Erasmo Ramirez (strained Teres major) on the shelf for the time being. Seattle also recently just bit the bullet on an ill-fated two-year deal for left-hander Marc Rzepczynski, cutting the veteran southpaw loose and eating the remainder of this year’s $5.5MM salary in the process.
There’s no indication that Nicasio’s injury is especially serious, though the Mariners neglected to disclose a timeline on either newly injured hurler. An “effusion,” though, refers to swelling and a build-up of fluid around the knee joint. For Altavilla, the perils of any UCL injury are well known, and while the categorization of a sprain is better than news of a full or significant tear, a “sprain,” by definition, would indicate that there’s at least a minor degree of tearing/stretching in that ligament.
Altavilla has given the Mariners 20 2/3 innings of 2.61 ERA ball with a 23-to-15 K/BB ratio, while Nicasio has been mostly solid but had a pair of meltdowns that skew his numbers (two outings of four runs allowed). He’s sporting an ugly 5.34 ERA but a 2.56 FIP and a brilliant 37-to-2 K/BB ratio in 28 2/3 frames this year.
Seattle will turn to the 27-year-old Morin in an attempt to patch the latest bullpen holes. The right-hander debuted with the Angels in 2014 and turned in a brilliant rookie season (2.90 ERA, 8.2 K/9, 2.9 BB/9, 43.9 percent grounder rate in 59 innings), but he’s struggled in the Majors ever since. Seattle plucked him off waivers from the Royals back in December and later outrighted him to Tacoma. He’s been quite good there to open the season, logging a 3.24 ERA with 28 punchouts against six walks while allowing just one homer in 25 innings of work. The addition of Morin gives the Mariners a full 40-man roster.
Vogelbach, meanwhile, returns to the Mariners for another look at big league pitching. He’s struggled in limited looks at MLB opponents but has crushed Triple-A pitching at a .304/.445/.643 clip through 146 plate appearances so far in 2018.