- Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto told Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times and other reporters on Friday that the M’s are hoping to address their pitching staff by the deadline. “We’ve certainly had our feelers out there on a variety of different things that would help our pitching staff, whether it be bullpen or starting pitching,” said Dipoto, adding that “we would prefer to focus on pitching.” Dipoto’s less concerned about upgrading the Mariners’ position player group, which will soon get the suspended Robinson Cano back, though Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports says (video link) the team’s “open to any upgrade” – even an offensive one. The same is true regarding the Diamondbacks, who are “exploring a wide range of possibilities,” Rosenthal reports. Although, the bullpen is the likeliest area that both Seattle and Arizona will address, per Rosenthal.
A few notable players were activated from the disabled list today…
- The Mariners have activated right-hander Felix Hernandez; he’d been on the DL with lower back tightness, though it’s possible the DL stint had more to do with roster management than with the injury itself. The 2010 AL Cy Young Award-winner has continued to trend downwards this season, evidenced by a 5.13 ERA (and a 4.64 FIP that doesn’t paint a much more optimistic picture). He also sports a 7.43 K/9 that would be a full-season career low. In order to make room for the righty on the active roster, Seattle has optioned outfielder John Andreoli to Triple-A Tacoma.
- White Sox outfielder Nicky Delmonico will finally return after missing two months with a broken hand. After an intriguing 2017 rookie season in which he hit .262/.373/.482, the 26-year-old has failed to replicate that type of production. His .217 batting average and .292 slugging percentage are both dreadful disappointments across his first 139 plate appearances of 2018, though his 11.5% walk rate is a nice silver lining.
- Avisail Garcia will also make a return to the White Sox. The 27-year-old enjoyed a tremendous breakout campaign last season during which he batted at a .330 clip and slugged 18 homers across 561 plate appearances. However, the 2018 season has seen him walk at just a 1.4% clip, so while his .282 batting average is fairly impressive, his .297 on-base percentage looks almost like a liability. He’s managed to hit nine homers and six doubles across 148 plate appearances, though, which makes for a .542 slugging percentage.
The Mariners announced today that they have outrighted reliever Mike Morin. That move helped clear the way for two promotions, with first baseman Dan Vogelbach and outfielder John Andreoli joining the active roster.
This is the second time Morin has been bumped from the Seattle 40-man roster this season. The 27-year-old righty has recorded six strikeouts against one walk in his four MLB innings this year but has also allowed three earned runs on six hits.
Morin turned in a strong rookie showing back in 2014 with the Angels. (The Halos organization drafted him and promoted him to the majors while their front office was run by current Seattle GM Jerry Dipoto.) Since then, however, Morin has struggled to find success despite generally sporting promising peripherals. Over his career, Morin carries a 4.66 ERA but a 3.32 FIP, 3.89 xFIP, and 3.42 SIERA.
The Mariners announced that they’ve agreed to a multiyear contract extension with manager Scott Servais. The length of the deal isn’t yet known.
“Scott has created a culture here in Seattle that allows players to be successful,” general manager Jerry Dipoto said of Servais. “They are encouraged to be themselves, which has resulted in a loose environment, while still maintaining the focus on team above self. His leadership has also been evident through the ongoing growth and impact of one of the best coaching staffs in Major League Baseball. He has been the right leader at the right time for the right team and I look forward to many more years together.”
The extension for Servais comes two weeks after the Mariners locked up Dipoto, who, like Seattle’s manager, had been in the final year of his contract. The Dipoto-Servais duo has been together since 2015, and the Mariners have posted a solid 222-199 record with them at the helm.
While the Mariners have also extended their major league-worst playoff drought to 16 years under their current leadership, the team may finally break that ignominious streak this season. The M’s will begin the second half of the campaign on Friday with a 58-39 record, which gives them a three-game edge over the American League West rival Athletics for the AL’s last wild-card spot.
Given how difficult it is to quantify the performance of a manager, it’s debatable whether Servais – an ex-major league catcher – has had a significant impact on the Mariners. Thanks in some part to Servais, though, the Mariners have exceeded preseason expectations in 2018 and have done so without one of their best players, second baseman Robinson Cano, who’s simultaneously recovering from a fractured right hand and serving an 80-game suspension. Cano has appeared in just 39 games this year, making Seattle’s success all the more impressive.
With Cano slated to return in mid-August, Servais & Co. will work in the meantime to stay in playoff position. The club entered the All-Star break in an awful skid, as it followed an eight-game winning streak by losing eight of 11. But regardless of whether Seattle recovers and finally returns to the postseason this year, it appears Servais will be atop its dugout for the foreseeable future.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Rupp has yet to earn a chance at the majors this season after spending the last three years as a frequently utilized member of the Phillies roster. He has spent time in 2018 with the top affiliates of the Rangers and Twins organizations, hitting well with the former and then struggling with the latter.
It’s certainly possible that Rupp will be called up to Seattle at some point, though he’ll need to play well and wait for an opportunity. In the near-term, when Mike Zunino returns from the DL, the M’s can either designate the out-of-options Chris Herrmann or (as seems more likely) option down David Freitas.
- There was some buzz last month about the Mariners discussing a trade for Cole Hamels, though the Seattle Times’ Ryan Divish hears that the Mariners’ “interest was greatly overplayed.” Whatever talks the M’s and Rangers had about Hamels could have been simply due diligence on the part of Seattle GM Jerry Dipoto, who “checks in on every player and will never toss away any proposal immediately.”
- The Mariners’ general need for pitching is further explored by Divish as part of his mailbag piece, as he isn’t sure Seattle will necessarily target a starter. For one, a clear top-of-the-rotation arm may not be available. The team’s search for such a pitcher is further complicated by the fact that some members of Mariners ownership and the upper-level management team aren’t keen on acquiring players who are only under contract for the rest of this season (i.e. Hamels or J.A. Happ, another pitcher linked to Seattle on the rumor mill.) It should be noted that Hamels is technically under control for 2019 via a club option, though at a steep cost of $20MM. As for a more controllable arm on a frequent Mariners trade partner, Divish doesn’t believe the M’s have the prospect depth to obtain Chris Archer from the Rays.
- The Mariners have selected the contract of right-hander Matt Festa from Double-A and optioned fellow righty Christian Bergman to Triple-A, the team announced. Festa is now in position to make his M’s debut two years after they picked him in the seventh round of the 2016 draft. Now 25, Festa has been formidable in relief this year, having pitched to a 3.13 ERA with 12.51 K/9 against 1.99 BB/9 in 31 2/3 innings. He ranks as Seattle’s ninth-best prospect at MLB.com.
The Mariners announced today that they’ve placed lefty James Paxton on the 10-day DL due to lower back inflammation and selected the contract of righty Mike Morin from Triple-A Tacoma. The Mariners also optioned Gordon Beckham and Nick Rumbelow to Triple-A, recalling righties Christian Bergman and Casey Lawrence to fill those roster spots.
Luckily for the M’s, the Paxton injury isn’t serious. GM Jerry Dipoto told Joel Sherman of the New York Post earlier today, even, that the plan is to utilize the All-Star break to get Paxton some extra rest after back discomfort forced him from last night’s game in the first inning (Twitter link). He’s scheduled to start the Mariners’ fourth game of the second half, so it seems this is somewhat of a procedural move to get some additional fresh arms in the ’pen.
Morin, 27, saw two games of action earlier in the season with Seattle before being outrighted off of the 40-man. He has spent the bulk of the season at Triple-A, where he owns a 3.60 ERA over 35 frames with an appealing blend of 9.3 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9. Over 172 career innings in the bigs, Morin carries a 4.60 ERA.
Mariners fans are holding their collective breath after James Paxton exited last night’s start in the first inning with an apparent injury. Per Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times, Paxton was lifted due to some discomfort in his lower back. Clearly, this would’ve been Paxton’s last start before the All-Star break anyhow, so the plus for the team is that he’ll have an extended period of time to rest up and hopefully return in healthier form. If the Mariners want to truly be cautious with their ace, they could slot him into the back of the rotation coming out of the break, giving him extra time in an effort to ensure that his back issue is cleared up. The injury doesn’t appear to be serious, though there’ll understandably be at least some apprehension around the situation until Paxton can make it through a start or two without further incident. Seattle can ill-afford to lose Paxton, who heads into the break with a 3.70 ERA, 11.7 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 through 119 1/3 innings.
With several players hitting the disabled list this afternoon, we’ll round them up in this post:
- The Mariners announced that starter Felix Hernandez will hit the DL owing to lower back tightness. It seems the idea is to afford him a longer rest by lining up the placement with the coming All-Star break, as Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times tweets. Reliever Nick Rumbelow and infielder Gordon Beckham will head onto the active roster, with outfielder John Andreoli being optioned out. Hopefully for the M’s, a bit of a respite will allow Hernandez to bounce back in the second half. It has been a frustrating season to this point, as he has allowed 5.13 earned runs per nine over 105 1/3 innings.
- Likewise, the Nationals announced that closer Sean Doolittle is hitting the shelf with left toe inflammation. His placement is retroactive to July 7th, meaning he’ll be eligible to return immediately after the break. The roster will get two fresh arms in Wander Suero and Austin Voth, while fellow right-hander Jefry Rodriguez was optioned after his start yesterday. As for Doolittle, it had been hoped that he would be able to return to action, but the team can ill afford an un-utilized roster spot with a tired relief corps. The club has other capable late-inning arms to turn to, though obviously the fervent hope will be that this placement will stave off any more concerning health matters.
- Indians righty Josh Tomlin is going to the DL with a right hamstring strain, per another announcement. He’ll be replaced by Adam Plutko, who has seen seven games (including six starts) of action in the majors this year. Tomlin has struggled both before and after being bumped from the rotation. Though he hasn’t been hit quite as hard in a relief capacity, he’s still allowing a .256/.294/.538 slash to opposing hitters while working from the bullpen. The 33-year-old owns a 6.98 ERA with 5.5 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9 — and an unhealthy 3.9 homers per nine — over 49 total innings this year.