It appears that young right-hander Erasmo Ramirez will not be in the starting rotation on opening day. The Mariners had Ramirez scheduled to start a minor league game on Wednesday to keep his pitch count up.
Today, the pitching sheet shows that Ramirez will pitch behind Felix Hernandez on Wednesday. With Hernandez scheduled to go about 100 pitches, roughly six to seven innings, it means Ramirez will only get one or two innings work. You don't do that to a guy that's going to be a starter.
The move is somewhat perplexing. Ramirez had been solid for most of the spring - except for his last outing in relief.
But beyond that, Mariner manager Eric Wedge said a week ago that they view Ramirez as a starter only, despite showing he could pitch in relief last season. That thinking seems to have changed.
We don't know the thinking behind it. The Mariners have reasons we don't know about. There could be health issues or something we are not privy to. Ramirez has had elbow issues each of the past few seasons.
That is a very real possibility. There is some thought that his elbow may have acted up again, not allowing him to be stretched out properly to be ready for the season. If that's the case then the Mariners are right to slow play him a little. But usually with an elbow or shoulder issue, they shut them down immediately. Ramirez is still throwing.
Is this a case of roster crowding? Not necessarily. The Mariners are full on their 40-man and potentially have to make two or three roster moves. If they keep outfielder Jason Bay and reliever Kameron Loe, which does seem likely, they will have to designate two players for assignment. Casper Wells would be gone since he's out of Triple A options and plays the same position as Bay. And the other would be a pitcher - possibly Chance Ruffin or Yoervis Medina. The roster shifting would get touchy if the team kept Bonderman and had to clear a third roster spot. But it could be done.
Really what hurts Ramirez is his ability to pitch well out of the bullpen and the Mariners lack of relievers that throw more than an inning at a time. Every one loves the flamethrowers like Carter Capps and Stephen Pryor, but they can't and you don't want to use them for multiple innings. So at this point, you have only Charlie Furbush, who is a multi-innings guy. Loe is capable of throwing two innings but not much more. If you add Ramirez in to the pen, they have a pseudo-long reliever type. But the addition of Ramirez could make lefty Lucas Luetge the odd man out.
If you add Loe and Ramirez to Furbush, Capps, Pryor, Oliver Perez and closer Tom Wilhelmsen -- there's your seven and Luetge could be on the outside looking in.
And what about the starting rotation?
It leaves right-handers Blake Beavan, Brandon Maurer and Jeremy Bonderman remaining in the conversation.
At this point, Beavan is in the rotation. He threw 100 pitches the other day. Wedge likes his durability and believes the changes about getting on top of the ball and throwing on a more downward plane. Let's hope there's no more hit fiestas like the other day.
Today could be a big start for Brandon Maurer against the Reds. He has two starts - today and Saturday - to show the Mariners belongs. Bonderman has one start.
so your rotation would slot out ....
- Felix Hernandez
- Hisashi Iwakuma
- Joe Saunders
- Blake Beavan
I have no idea what's going on right now. We won't know till we get to ask Wedge postgame. Can the season just start already.