With ace Tyler Glasnow moving to the 60-day injured list with right-elbow problems, Michael Wacha is returning to the Tampa Bay Rays’ rotation.
The veteran right-hander is scheduled to start Friday night in Seattle as the American League East-leading Rays try to snap a three-game losing streak with Glasnow out because of a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament and a flexor strain.
“I’m feeling good,” Wacha said. “(I’m) looking forward to getting back out there (Friday).”
Just don’t expect Wacha (1-1, 4.54 ERA) to go very deep into the game.
He began the season in the Rays’ rotation before moving to the bullpen as a long reliever and hasn’t pitched at least three innings in an outing since April 27.
“I feel like pitch count is not built up as much as I’d like it to be,” Wacha said. “We’re going to go into it, and I’m going to be honest with how I’m feeling and everything. I don’t think we’re going to be pushing it too far, but just working on getting that pitch count back up.”
Wacha, a former first-round draft pick by St. Louis who went 59-39 over seven injury-plagued seasons with the Cardinals, pitched six scoreless innings to beat the New York Yankees 8-2 on April 16. He gave up just one run over five innings on April 27 in a game the Rays won 4-3 against Oakland before being sent to the bullpen.
His past two appearances have been as an opener, so he has been preparing for games like a starter.
“Everything happens for a reason,” Wacha said. “I just look forward to any opportunity that I can get, whether it’s in the rotation or whether it’s in the bullpen. I feel in myself that whenever they call me to go out there and pitch, I just want to go out there and compete the best I can, like I’ve always done.”
Wacha has made two career starts against Seattle, going 0-1 with a 6.48 ERA.
The Mariners are scheduled to start left-hander Yusei Kikuchi (3-3, 3.67), who has been the most dependable member of Seattle’s oft-injured six-man rotation this season.
Kikuchi, who will face the Rays for the first time, has made seven quality starts over his past eight outings and was knocked out of the other game, June 5 against the host Los Angeles Angels, after taking a hard one-hopper off his right knee in the fifth inning that caused him to leave early.
He pitched seven shutout innings Saturday at Cleveland, allowing just three hits, before the bullpen blew a lead in a 5-4 defeat in 10 innings.
The Mariners won the series opener 6-5 Thursday on pinch-hitter Kyle Seager’s run-scoring single with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning.
“It was supposed to be a day off (for Seager), but when you get to the ninth inning and you’ve got that bullet … you’ve got to take the shot,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “He had a good at-bat and came through. It was a good team win to start the series.”
Ty France and Luis Torrens homered for the second time in the past three games for the Mariners.
–Field Level Media