It was apparent yesterday, but it's been confirmed today that Brandon Maurer and Blake Beavan will round out the rotation. Maurer will actually be the No. 4 starter and Beavan the No. 5 starter. The main reason for that is having Maurer make his start in the pitcher friendly Oakland Coliseum instead of the bandbox known as U.S. Cellular field.
That means the first pitching match-ups are
- April 1 -- Felix Hernandez vs. Brett Anderson
- April 2 - Hisashi Iwakuma vs. Jarrod Parker
- April 3 - Joe Saunders vs. Tommy Milone
- April 4 - Brandon Maurer vs. A.J. Griffin
- April 5 - Blake Beavan vs. TBA of the White Sox.
Maurer had a perma-grin after the news.
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"I'm happy, clearly," he said. "I'm very excited."
He quickly went outside to call his parents in Southern California.
"It was good," he said. "I think my mom was getting a little choked up and my dad was rambling on about stuff."
To be clear, this was a spot that he earned. He came in and out-pitched everyone in camp, including veterans Jon Garland and Jeremy Bonderman, holdovers Beavan and Erasmo Ramirez and his more heralded fellow prospects - Taijuan Walker, James Paxton and Danny Hultzen.
Maurer impressed coaches with his ability to throw all five of his pitches and fearlessness to do so in any count. He also demonstrated the ability to adjust when one pitch wasn't working and get out of jams without allowing massive damage.
"It's definitely been a huge learning experience," Maurer said. "Having success was a positive part of that. I was just trying to go out there and battle through every game and work on pitches and get where I need to be to start the season."
It hasn't been the straightest path to the big leagues for Maurer since he was drafted in the 23rd round out of the 2008 draft out of Orange Lutheran High School.
He missed all of 2010 with elbow issues and then had the same elbow problems rear up again in 2011, limiting his appearances.
But 2012 was a breakout season. He posted a 9-2 record with a 3.20 ERA with 117 strikeouts in 137 2/3 innings pitched in Double A Jackson. He was named the Mariners minor league pitcher of the year.
"It's been a good ride," he said. "I've learned so much every year, turning myself into a pitcher and not just a thrower. This year, I've felt like a pitcher more than I have ever."
Beavan was all smiles as well. The thrill of being told you are on the team has not worn off on him.
"It's still the same," he said. "It doesn't change. Maybe when you become arbitration eligible or come in as a big free agent it might be different."
Even though he's got big league experience, there was no guarantee he'd make the team or the rotation.
"I told Carl (Willis) that his the most anxiety I've ever felt in a camp," he said.
With Maurer and Beavan in the rotation, it meant that Ramirez and Bonderman would not make the team. The Mariners made it official with Erasmo Ramirez being optioned to Triple A Tacoma and Bonderman being re-assigned to minor league camp.