The Seattle Mariners started 2021 with a six-man starting rotation.
Barely more than a month into the season, injuries already have taken a toll.
With No. 1 starter Marco Gonzales on the 10-day injured list with a left-forearm strain, the Mariners have yet to announce who will pitch Monday when they host the Baltimore Orioles in the opener of a three-game series.
Fellow left-handers James Paxton and Nick Margevicius also are sidelined, with Paxton done for the season following Tommy John surgery after working just 1 1/3 innings.
The Mariners got some good news Sunday as Gonzales played catch before a 2-0 victory against the visiting Los Angeles Angels.
Right-hander Erik Swanson, a former starter turned reliever, was recalled from the team’s alternate training site Sunday and could start Monday. Swanson pitched two scoreless innings April 13 in Baltimore in his only major-league appearance of the season.
Mariners manager Scott Servais hinted it could be a bullpen day. With two days off in a five-day span beginning Thursday, that might give Gonzales a chance to return for his next time through the rotation.
“We’re going to have to lean on our bullpen. … With those off days coming up, I’m very hopeful that Marco is not out that long — maybe just a couple starts missing him,” Servais said. “But we’ll have to wait and see how that comes along.”
The Mariners’ stellar bullpen was taxed Saturday, having to pitch seven innings after right-hander Ljay Newsome lasted just two innings while stepping in for Margevicius. Seattle’s relievers pitched three more innings Sunday.
Servais seemed to dismiss the possibility of using an opener on Monday, something the Mariners have done a few times.
“The reason that you would use an opener is maybe you like that matchup against the top of their lineup in the first inning. That’s the reason behind an opener,” Servais said. “It’s not just to fire (a) guy out there, and he’s going to throw an inning, and then you could have another guy behind him throw an inning, and another guy behind him throw an inning or two. That’s not really the purpose of an opener, in my mind.”
The Orioles are scheduled to start right-hander Dean Kremer (0-2, 8.40 ERA). Kremer faced the Mariners on April 13 in the second game of a doubleheader at Oriole Park at Camden Yards and allowed four runs on four hits in three innings of a game Baltimore won 7-6.
The Mariners took three of the four games against the Orioles last month.
Baltimore had a three-game winning streak snapped Sunday in a 7-5 loss at Oakland.
Austin Hays homered for Baltimore and Trey Mancini drove in three runs, but the Orioles’ bullpen gave up two runs in the eighth inning.
“I’m really proud of how our team played this series,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said. “I thought our at-bats (Sunday) were really good against some good pitching, up and down the order. Super competitive, taking walks, getting big hits in big spots against a good team. Taking this as a positive even though this is a tough loss.”
–Field Level Media