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There was plenty to discuss last night on The Geoff Baker Show on Sports Radio KJR and discuss we did. Much of the discussion surrounded the upcoming July 31 trade deadline and what the Mariners should be doing. A common consensus seemed to be that the team should hold on to its bigger impact veterans so as to keep this winning run going and I have little problem with that.
But as I mentioned numerous times on the show, I would like to see this team do something to bolster its chances for right now if the Mariners keep winning before the deadline arrives in six days.
The biggest need I see right now is for a right-handed relief pitcher for the bullpen. I think the offense has some pieces coming off the disabled list in Michael Morse and Franklin Gutierrez that would rate as impact bat acquisitions were they brought in from elsewhere, so they will already be huge adds coming in.
Rotation-wise, the team could call up James Paxton and Taijuan Walker for some MLB action, which again gives you more depth on the starting side. Even though Walker is on an innings-count limit, you could get the most out of him in August if need be and then use Paxton to fill in some gaps after that.
But the bullpen is still highly vulnerable from the right side. At this point, I don’t think the Mariners can even afford to think about trading Oliver Perez without running the serious risk of the bullpen coming undone. There is nobody right now who can fill an eighth-inning setup role and consistently get right-handers out on a nightly basis other than Perez.
Charlie Furbush has had a pretty solid season, but he’s still not a guy I’d feel comfortable using down the stretch against both righties and lefties on a nightly basis. From the left side? The bullpen is fine.
But from the right side, even closer Tom Wilhelmsen has been vulnerable. I know Stephen Pryor is coming back off the DL and that should help. But expecting him to fill that eighth-inning spot with his limited MLB experience and lack of playing time this year is just asking for trouble if you trade Perez.
That’s my take, anyway.
If this is truly a .500 or so team by next week with two months to go, I’d hope to see the team try to bolster its bullpen from the right side and at least give itself a fighting chance to try to sneak back into second wild-card contention. But if this team goes into the Dog Days of August with a bullpen lacking experience and any real right side presence, all these wins we’ve been seeing of late could dry up in a hurry.