Here’s the official version on the Mariners’ revamped rotation:
They aren’t sure who is going to start Sunday’s series finale against the Chicago White Sox, and manager Lloyd McClendon didn’t juggle his starting pitchers to line up his top three starters to face Toronto.
“I’ve told you guys,” McClendon said Tuesday in his pregame news briefing, “that every chance I get to give them an extra day, I’m going to do it. I think we’ve done OK with it.
“Last time I checked, we had the best pitching in the American League. Why break something that’s not broken?”
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Except the Mariners aren’t giving any of their starters extra rest until they create an opening Sunday by pushing Felix Hernandez, their ace, back one day.
That enables Hernandez to start Monday against the Blue Jays, who lead the race for the American League’s final wild-card spot. The Mariners started play Tuesday trailing Toronto by two games.
That plan also pushes Chris Young back one day to Tuesday. But Hisashi Iwakuma is slotted to start Wednesday, on normal rest, for the final game in the Toronto series.
“Everybody can’t get an extra day,” McClendon explained.
Regarding Sunday, all signs point to the Mariners recalling right-hander Erasmo Ramirez from Triple-A Tacoma. Ramirez started last Saturday for the Rainiers but isn’t scheduled to start Thursday in his regular turn.
“Erasmo is throwing fairly well (at Tacoma),” McClendon said. “He threw well when he was here. He gave us an opportunity to win games. I would say he’s definitely in the mix.
“So is (Taijuan) Walker. Bullpen options. I’m just not sure.”
Walker started Monday for Tacoma at Albuquerque and took a beating in a 12-5 loss by giving up eight runs while throwing 68 pitches in 21/3 innings.
Outfielder Michael Saunders, barring a setback, could start a rehab assignment Thursday at Tacoma in his recovery from a strained left oblique suffered July 10 on a swing against Minnesota.
Veteran utilityman Willie Bloomquist, in contrast, continues to recover slowly from a bruised right knee, which occurred July 23 running out a ground ball against the New York Mets.
Saunders underwent a full on-field workout prior to Tuesday’s game against Atlanta, but Bloomquist said he’s been restricted, so far, to work in the pool and perform low exertion on an exercise bike.
“I thought I’d be better at this point than I am right now,” Bloomquist said. “It’s getting better, but I thought I would be a little closer than I am now. No jogging yet. I couldn’t begin to think about jogging yet.”
BASEBALL’S ‘BEST TOOLS’
Does it surprise anyone that Felix Hernandez was picked as the American League’s best pitcher by the league’s managers for Baseball America’s annual “best tools” survey?
Injured Yankees rookie Masahiro Tanaka was second, followed by Tacoma native and new A’s lefty Jon Lester.
Hernandez was also having the AL’s best change-up, while teammate Hisashi Iwakuma was picked as having the league’s second-best command (behind new Detroit lefty David Price.)
Robinson Cano drew mention as the AL’s third-best hitter behind Detroit first baseman Miguel Cabrera and Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout. Cano was picked as the No. 2 defensive second baseman behind Boston’s Dustin Pedroia.
IMPROVING ODDS, TOO
The AL managers aren’t the only group that views Hernandez as the AL’s top pitcher. He is also now a 9-4 favorite to win the Cy Young Award in the latest odds posted by Bovada, the online gaming service.
White Sox lefty Chris Sale is second at 3-1, followed by Detroit right-hander Max Scherzer, the 2013 Cy Young recipient, at 6-1. Oakland right-hander Sonny Gray and Cleveland right-hander Corey Kluber are 7-1.
Cano is tied for third at 10-1 odds with White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu to win the AL’s Most Valuable Player award. Trout is a prohibitive favorite at 2-5, while Cabrera is 7-1.
Cabrera was the 2012 and 2013 recipient of the AL MVP award.
Fernando Rodney’s reputation as a tightrope closer — what McClendon terms a “top-stepper” (in regard to his position in the dugout) — might be undeserved.
Among AL closers, only Kansas City’s Greg Holland has more “clean saves” than Rodney. A clean save is defined as the closer retiring every batter he faces.
Holland has 15 “clean” saves through Monday. Rodney is tied with Boston’s Koji Uehara with 13. Angels closer Huston Street has 16 clean saves, but 13 came while pitching for San Diego in the National League.
Double-A Jackson is remembering the late Tony Gwynn, and honoring his family, by wearing a No. 19 uniform patch for the remainder of the season. Gwynn died from cancer on June 16.
“We have placed a 19 patch on our home uniforms to honor Tony and his family,” Generals general manager Jason Compton said. “This is something we wanted to do because of the great relationship we have with (his brother) Chris.”
Chris Gwynn is the Mariners’ director of player development.
If the White Sox hold to their current plans, the Mariners won’t face All-Star lefty Chris Sale in their upcoming four-game weekend series at Safeco Field. Chicago lists Scott Carroll, Jose Quintana, Hector Noesi and John Danks as its four starters. ... The Mariners, prior to Tuesday, were 37-16 in games when they hit a homer and 22-5 when they hit more than one. They are 20-38 when they failed to hit any home runs. ... Prior to Tuesday, Seattle had played 68 games decided by two runs or less. That matched Baltimore for the most among AL clubs.
The Mariners and Braves conclude their two-game series at 12:40 p.m. Wednesday at Safeco Field. Right-hander Chris Young (9-6, 3.19 ERA) will oppose Atlanta right-hander Julio Teheran (10-7, 2.69).
Root Sports will broadcast the game.
The nine-game homestand continues Thursday with the start of four weekend games against the Chicago White Sox.