September 3, 2013 at 3:06 PM
James Paxton to start Saturday as Mariners go to six-man rotation
The youth infusion continues by the truckload for the Mariners, though not necessarily in relation to any dazzling statistics put up by the prospects being brought in. Today, the Mariners called up James Paxton, Hector Noesi, Chance Ruffin, and Carlos Triunfel.
Of that bunch, it’s possible none will still be here come next spring, which is indeed one of the reasons the Mairners are bringing them up now. Last December, at the winter meetings, general manager Jack Zduriencik was increasingly frustrated by his attempts to get value in return for prospects via trade. He said at the time that his fellow GMs were drawing a clear line of demarcation between guys who had even minimal experience in the majors versus those who did not. So, Zduriencik could talk all he wanted about Nick Franklin and his vaunted “Big 3” pitchers to other teams last winter, but they were not about to ow to the hype of prospects who had yet to be battle-tested in the bigs. Zduriencik’s strategy this season now seems to be to get as much playing time as possible in the majors for a boatload of prospects and minor leaguers in order to try to flip some of them this winter.
And that means, we’re about to see a bunch of guys in the majors who normally would not be here based on what they’ve done to earn it in AAA.
Paxton went 8-11 with a 4.45 ERA in AAA and is joining what will be a six-man rotation going forward. He’ll start against the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday and continue in the rotation the rest of this month. Taijuan Walker goes tomorrow here in Kansas City, then will start once more next Tuesday in Seattle. He gets the extra day’s rest because of Paxton now joining the rotation.
After that, Walker will have hit his innings limit and then Brandon Maurer will take his spot in the six-man rotation the rest of the way.
Just as a heads-up here, Felix Hernandez is still feeling somewhat sore in his side after yesterday’s cramping up that forced him from the game in the seventh inning.
Hernandez is still scheduled to pitch Sunday against the Ryas, but if he doesn’t get better quickly enough, the Mariners could push him back a bit until the side heals.
Mariners pitching coach Carl Willis said Hisashi Iwakuma has about 19 more innings left before his innings limit of 210 is reached. So, that’s about three more starts, give or take. With off days and thesix-man rotation, they could probably space things out enough so that Iwakuma finishes the year with the team.
Noesi and Ruffin are here to bolster the bullpen, since, with all the young arms, we could see some relief work needed en masse.
Noesi was 3-3 with a 5.83 ERA in 11 starts and four relief outings in AAA.
Ruffin was being transitioned to a starting role in AA ealrier this season, where he went 4-4 with a 3.90 ERA. He then made only two AAA starts, going 0-2 with a 9.00 ERA before being transitioned back to a reliever in mid-July because of his innings count. Starting five weeks ago, he’s since posted a 1.74 ERA in 13 outings. So, those numbers are fine, as long as you exclude his starting numbers up to then.
Triunfel hit .282 with a .723 OPS in AAA, but is out of options next spring and doesn’t appear to have a future role with the club — other than perhaps as a utility player if the Mariners wanted to save money in that area. A onetime highly-regarded prospect in Seattle’s system, there have been internal concerns about Triunfel’s discipline and response to coaching at every step of his minor league development. Since his first stint with the Mariners ended in late June, his monthly OPS totals in Tacoma dropped to .642 in July, and .604 in August before earning his latest promotion.
One notable name not called up: Blake Beavan.
It seems there is a limit to mediocre AAA numbers that even the Mariners are not prepared to swallow right now.
As for Carlos Peguero, this would seem to be his kiss of death where the 40-man roster is concerned.