Taijuan Needs More Time
Walker had his third rehab start since the most recent shoulder injury setback on Monday, and this time the results were a bit better. Walker managed to throw 77 pitches over five innings giving up four hits and two runs.
Both runs came on solo shot-homers.
The next day, Walker reported no ill effects from his most recent outing, and the Mariners took him off the 15-day disabled list where he’s resided since spring training. Unfortunately, it does not mean we get to see Walker pitch this Saturday which would be his normal turn in the rotation.
No, instead we get yet another dose of the Erasmo Ramirez show.
Why you ask? Seconds after Walker was removed from the DL, he was optioned to AAA. He’ll be starting for the Rainiers instead.
While no official reason has been given for this move, it’s pretty clear that the M’s want to see Walker throw a few more games in AAA before recalling him.
In one sense, I like this move. Walker is a young pitcher. He’s coming off an injury to his throwing shoulder. There is no need to rush him back, so let him build up some innings and his pitch count a bit.
The problem is that by sending Walker to AAA, it means Ramirez is here to stay a while longer. And his numbers aren’t very pretty.
On the season, Ramirez has a 1-4 record in eight starts with just 37.2 innings thrown. His ERA is 5.97. He’s allowed 25 runs and nine homers. He’s walked 18, and opponents are batting .294 against him.
What’s the alternative? Brandon Maurer? Uh… no.
Simply put: the M’s are out of arms. If they want to play it safe and let Walker build himself up a bit more, then Ramirez is what we get and for likely at least two more starts.
Given that a player optioned to AAA cannot be recalled to the big leagues for 10 days, that not only means Ramirez started starting Saturday, but there’s a strong likely hood he’ll pitch next Thursday in San Diego as well.
Technically, yes, the M’s could call Walker back for that game by a matter of a couple of hours, but I don’t see it happening. I’ve been wrong before, though.
This move wasn’t made to get 1-2 more starts for Walker in AAA. I think we’ll be lucky to see Walker back before the All-Star break. Unfortunately, a very scary thought would be seeing Walker seriously hurt by coming back too quickly, and the M’s know this.
Ramirez pitching in all of those starts until then? Now, that’s a really scary thought. Which dose of bad do you like the most?
Make the move, recall Walker and pray, or play it safe and know every fifth game could easily be a nightmare?
It’s a real pickle the M’s have found themselves in, and unfortunately, I just don’t see any other options.