Seattle Mariners

Bullpen picks up another member as Mariners close in on franchise record for players used

The Seattle Mariners could easily match a single-season franchise record in Houston this weekend.

Entering Friday night’s series opener against the Astros, the Mariners had used 59 players this season, just two shy of the club-record 61 used in 2017. And now, following a flurry of transactions in the past few days, Seattle is carrying two more players who have yet to make their debuts.

Right-hander Reggie McClain was promoted from Triple-A Tacoma ahead of Friday’s game, while right-hander Zac Grotz was called up from Double-A Arkansas earlier in the week.

Both relievers were selected to help fill out a bullpen — and a 40-man roster, which is now at 38 players — that lost two of its more experienced arms in Roenis Elias and Hunter Strickland just before Wednesday afternoon’s trade deadline. (Gerson Bautista was also recalled from Tacoma as an extra arm.)

And, both McClain and Grotz will make their MLB debuts in their first appearance with the Mariners, joining 13 other players who have done the same this season.

“Going forward for us it creates, again, opportunity for younger players to come in, and (for us to) find out more about them,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said following Wednesday’s trade deadline.

McClain is 3-4 with a 2.23 ERA with three different Mariners minor league affiliates this season, with 22 walks and 72 strikeouts in 29 games, including three starts.

The 26-year-old told reporters in Houston on Friday that a new throwing program and workout plan over the offseason helped him put on about 20 pounds on his 6-foot-2 frame while increasing his velocity.

McClain was drafted by the Mariners in the 13th round in 2016 out of Missouri, and was primarily a starter early on in his professional career before converting to a reliever this season.

He appeared with both Single-A Modesto and Double-A Arkansas before earning his promotion to Tacoma on the final day of May. He posted a 3.29 ERA with 18 walks and 34 strikeouts with the Rainiers.

Grotz joined the Mariners after Wednesday’s deadline passed, but did not appear during the Rangers series.

The 26-year-old had spent the entirety of his season with Arkansas, posting a 4-4 record and 2.51 ERA with 11 walks and 69 strikeouts in 26 games, including six starts. Nine of his relief appearances spanned multiple innings, which is a trait the Mariners have valued in their relievers.

Before joining Seattle as a minor league free agent in the offseason, Grotz spent parts of four seasons with the Astros, Dodgers and Mets organization. He was drafted by Houston in the 28th round in 2015.

NO STOPPING NOLA

Rookie infielder Austin Nola led the Mariners in several offensive categories in July, slashing at .350/.391/.633 for the month with six doubles, a triple, three homers and eight RBIs. He had a 1.024 OPS and seven multi-hit games.

Before this year, Nola had never hit more than six home runs in any minor-league season.

“It’s amazing the transformation he’s made in his offense game and what he’s doing at this level, based on everything he’s been through in his career,” Servais said recently. “It’s awesome to see. I’m really happy for him.

“And he’s not backing off. He’s staying with the program, he works as hard as anybody we’ve got. We’ll keep making adjustments to what he’s doing here, but he’s handled everything we’ve thrown at him and done really, really well.”

SEAGER’S STREAK

Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager has started to find some rhythm at the plate in the past two weeks after a shaky start to his shortened season.

Entering Friday night’s game against the Astros, Seager had a nine-game hitting streak, which was the longest active streak in the American League.

Seager is 12-for-34 with two doubles, a triple, three home runs and seven RBIs during that span.

INJURY UPDATES

• Ryon Healy (back, hip) will undergo season-ending hip surgery, Servais told reporters in Houston on Friday. Healy spoke with doctors at Stanford about his ongoing injury issues, and surgery was recommended. He has not played since May.

• Felix Hernandez (lat, shoulder) started a rehab assignment with Short-A Everett on Friday, while Tim Lopes (concussion) started a rehab assignment with Tacoma.

• Braden Bishop (lacerated spleen) is participating in full baseball activities and could go out on a rehab assignment as early as next week.

• Mitch Haniger (ruptured testicle) will start participating in regular pregame workouts when the Mariners return home from Texas.

Lauren Smith covers the Seattle Mariners for The News Tribune. She previously covered high school sports at TNT and The Olympian, beginning in 2015. She is a graduate of the University of Washington and Emerald Ridge High School.
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