TORONTO — Veteran right-hander Chris Young has hit a competitive wall, Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon believes, and won’t start as scheduled Thursday in the series finale at the Rogers Centre.
“I think he’s probably out of gas from a starting standpoint,” McClendon said. “I think the innings have piled up, and that’s to be expected. For guys not coming off surgery, the innings have piled up.
“He’s coming off surgery. He’s only human. He’s given us everything that he had and probably a little bit more. He’s tired.”
McClendon did not identify a replacement, although long reliever Tom Wilhelmsen looms as a leading possibility because the Mariners are carrying an 11-man bullpen.
Another option is Erasmo Ramirez, who has been the bullpen’s mop-up reliever since returning Sept. 1 from Triple-A Tacoma after making 14 starts earlier in the season.
The move comes after Young, 35, went 0-3 while allowing 17 earned runs and 27 hits over 18 1/3 innings in his last five starts. In contrast, he was 12-6 with a 3.07 ERA in his first 25 outings.
“It’s what is right for the club,” he said. “There’s no doubt it’s been a long, great season, but I feel good. I’m still be prepared to pitch. I’ll give the club the best I can whenever they need it.”
Young is 12-9 with a 3.65 ERA in 165 innings over 30 games, including 29 starts. He pitched just 37 innings last season in the minors after surgery and hasn’t worked more than 115 since 2007.
“The fatigue is somewhat natural,” he conceded, “especially considering from where I’ve come. Basically, I’ve been throwing since last July with no time off.
“I went from a rehab mode straight into competition mode in spring training to making (29) regular-season starts.”
Young gave up seven runs and eight hits, including four homers, in three-plus innings Saturday in a 10-1 loss to the Astros.
“I think there’s an element of fatigue to it,” he agreed, “but I also think if I had that start in June, we don’t talk about it as much. It gets magnified because of the situation we’re in.
“If we were 15 games out, the way the club’s been the last few years, it’s probably a non-issue. The timing of it was poor, and that’s on me.
“Nobody is more disappointed than I am about it, but Lloyd has to do what’s right for the club. If he feels that’s what is best, I’ll support him. I’ll be ready to help out however I can.”
Young resurrected his career after undergoing thoracic outlet decompression surgery June 11, 2013 on his right shoulder. He signed March 27 with the Mariners after failing to win a spot in Washington’s rotation.
“I’m not sure we would be in the position we’re in now if it weren’t for him,” McClendon said. “He did a tremendous job for us. He’ll pitch out of the pen. He was as gracious as he could be. A complete pro.”
Robinson Cano dismisses the suggestion the Mariners are pressing or cracking while going 10-10 in the September heat of their first serious postseason race in more than a decade.
He has a simpler explanation.
“We just aren’t very consistent,” he said. “I don't think it’s pressing. We are a team that has been like that. We'll win a few games in a row. And after that, we'll go and only get three or four hits.”
That’s been the case, certainly, through the first seven games of a grueling 11-game trip that concludes this week with four games against the Toronto Blue Jays at the Rogers Centre.
The Mariners opened the trip on Sept. 15 by getting just six hits in an 8-1 loss to the Angels in Anaheim, Calif. The next night, they had 14 hits in a 13-2 romp.
They managed a split in the four-game series against the Angels despite getting just seven hits over the final two games.
The Mariners arrived Friday in Houston and hit four homers in a 12-hit attack that carried them to a 10-5 victory but scored just four runs in losing the next two games.
It meant they entered the season’s final week trailing Kansas City by 1 1/2 games and Oakland by two games for the American League’s two Wild Card slots.
“We have to keep playing our game,” Cano said, “and do our job with men in scoring position. We (can’t) have one game where we score seven or eight runs and the one after that we just get nothing.”
Any small chance that rookie left-hander Roenis Elias might return this season ended when a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) exam confirmed a strained flexor bundle in his elbow.
Treatment involves no throwing for four-to-six weeks.
Elias left a Sept. 16 game against the Angels in Anaheim because of elbow soreness. He was examined last Friday in Seattle by Dr. E. Edward Khalfayan, the Mariners’ medical director.
The MRI took place Monday.
Elias, 26, was 10-12 with a 3.85 ERA in 29 starts.
Feeling lucky? Before Monday’s games, the Mariners were rated an 11/1 shot to win the American League pennant and a 20/1 to win the World Series in odds posted by Bovada.lv, the online gaming site.
The odds on making the playoffs: You’d get 5/1 if you bet yes, but 1/8 if you bet no.
Three major computer projections severely downgraded the Mariners’ postseason chances after losses Saturday and Sunday at Houston.
Again, these were prior to Monday’s games: ESPN had the Mariners at 13.0 percent; fangraphs.com had them at 17.3 percent, while Baseball Prospectus put them at 20.7 percent.
The Mariners carried a 45-32 road record into their final road series of the year. They need one victory in the four-game series to achieve the second-best road record in franchise history. The 2001 club was 59-22 away from Safeco Field…Lefty James Paxton, when he started Monday, became the 12th native Canadian to play for the Mariners in Toronto…Another Canadian, outfielder Michael Saunders, has five of his 50 career homers at the Rogers Centre. That matches his five homers at Camden Yards in Baltimore as his best in any away park…The other 10 native Canadians to play for the Mariners in Toronto: Jason Bay, Erik Bedard, Rob Ducey, Mike Gardiner, Dave Pagan, Ryan Radmanovich, Steve Sinclair, Paul Spoljaric, Dave Wainhouse and Jordan Zimmerman.
It was 14 years ago Tuesday — Sept, 23, 2000 — that Edgar Martinez broke Babe Ruth’s record for RBIs by a player aged 37 or older by getting Nos. 138 and 139 in an 8-2 loss to Oakland at Safeco Field.
Ruth had 137 RBIs in 1932 at age 37.
Martinez finished his age-37 season with a league-leading and career-high 145 RBIs. That ranks third on the Mariners’ single-season list behind Ken Griffey Jr., who had 147 in 1997 and 146 in 1998.
The Mariners and Blue Jays continue their four-game series at 4:07 p.m. Pacific time Tuesday at the Rogers Centre.
Right-hander Felix Hernandez (14-5 with a 2.07 ERA) will oppose Toronto knuckleballer R.A. Dickey (13-12, 3.82). Root Sports will televise the game.
The series continues at 4:07 p.m. Pacific time Wednesday before concluding at 1:07 p.m. Pacific time Thursday.
The Mariners then return home to finish the regular season with three weekend games against the Los Angeles Angels at Safeco Field.