Phones In Tacoma Soon To Be Ringing
The playoff chase is on and help could be just 30 miles or so south for the Seattle Mariners.
The AAA Tacoma Rainiers are full of players to choose from, some deserving a look and others not so much. MLB rules allow the Mariners to call up as many as 15 addition players for a total of 40 for the final month of the season.
Will the M’s call up that many guys? Probably not but they will definitely do something. There is no reason not to. Here’s a few names I expect to see on a Mariner’s uniform come September.
I know what you are thinking. Why call up relievers when the M’s already have baseball’s best bullpen? The answer is simple– REST!
Think back to the M’s blowout loss on Wednesday to the Rangers. That game was over by the 3rd inning and the M’s put a lot of innings on the bullpen that day that didn’t mean much in the grand scheme.
Whether it’s the M’s blowing someone out, or being blown out, in that type of situation it’s nice to have someone to throw out there that you can take a look at. Give them a chance, evaluate them, etc. It’s not going to change the outcome of the game anyway.
In addition to garbage time pitching Luetge is a lefty and it never hurts to have an extra lefty in the pen when you are trying to mix and match late in a tight game.
The Mariner’s rotation looks pretty solid with Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma, James Paxton, Chris Young and Roenis Elias. That doesn’t mean that manager Lloyd McClendon won’t continue to tinker however.
One thing McClendon has shown in his first year as the M’s skipper is that he’s not afraid to bump a starter out of the rotation by a day or two, to get the matchup he wants in a key series.
You don’t see a lot of that in majors anymore, at least not without someone in the rotation getting hurt which forces the Manager’s hand. I like it personally. Baseball is all about getting the right matchup after all.
Erasmo Ramirez has been much more Mr. Hyde than Dr. Jekyll for the Mariners this year. That doesn’t mean he’s not going to get a shot in a spot start or two in September though.
The other name I think the M’s will consider is Taijuan Walker. Hailed as the Mariner’s top pitching prospect we haven’t seen a whole lot of Mr. Walker this year either due to injury or his poor performance.
Walker has struggled for the most part in his handful of Mariner outings and he hasn’t fared a whole lot better in AAA either. I just don’t think we’ve seen the real Taijuan Walker just yet however.
Walker is just a kid. He just turned 22 this month. The jury isn’t even close to being out about Walker yet.
I fully expect Walker to get a couple of chances with the M’s this September to start and he’ll most likely head to spring training in April of 2015 with a very realistic shot of making the starting rotation out of camp.
The Mariners continue to look for offense as their great pitching just keeps on rolling. There are a few names down in AAA that will probably head North as September approaches.
Justin Smoak has been on tear as of late down in AAA. He’s hitting .444 in his last 10 games there. I realize he has struggled yet again with Seattle this year at times but I still think he’s going to get another look.
Will he flat out replace Logan Morrison? Not, at this point. I see Smoak getting a spot start against a tough lefty or as a pinch hitter off the bench.
Smoak plays a very slick game at first base with his glove too. I think you’ll see Smoak as a late inning defensive replacement at first base.
Another name down there that’s familiar is that of Corey Hart. Hart has spent much of the past month or so injured and on a rehab assignment in AAA. It is not exactly going well for him down there but it’s not horrible either.
In the last 10 days Hart has posted a .265 average. That’s not sexy but I still think the M’s will give him a call up. He can get an AB here and there against a tough lefty off the bench.
McClendon has already mentioned carrying a 3rd catcher after September rolls around so look for Humberto Quintero to be called up. I think he’ll catch some games to give Mike Zunino some much needed rest after catching so many in his first full season of MLB.
Another familiar name we’ll likely see is Stefen Romero who’s hitting close to .500 in his last 10 games. He can spell a corner outfielder here and there down the stretch.
James Jones is also a candidate which could come up and provide pinch running services as well as late inning defensive upgrades in the outfield.
Exactly how much playing time these guys see will be largely dictated on how close the pennant race continues to be through September. If the M’s stay in contention McClendon will likely play his regulars more often. If not, then look for them to get considerable playing time as the M’s look toward 2015.