Just a week after the Mariners dropped to 2-8 with a five-run loss in a game they had jumped out to a five-run lead, the Mariners beat the Marlins 10-5 on Wednesday and left Seattle for a 10-game road trip following a 6-3 homestand.
The sky that was falling apparently propped back up with support of improved starting pitching, somewhat more consistent performances from the bullpen and an offense led by rookie Mitch Haniger.
At some point on the road trip, the Mariners will get back Jean Segura and Steve Cishek from the disabled list. Both are in the rehab assignment phase of their comebacks, with Segura expected back Sunday in Oakland or Tuesday in Detroit, and Cishek hopefully not behind. The return of Segura will give manager Scott Servais the opportunity to use utility man Taylor Motter in spots needed, be it for matchups, guys who need a day off or those who are struggling. Servais soon could have an additional option off the bench, as well.
The return of Cishek should help strengthen the pen and eventually allow the Mariners to swap their additional relief arm for another position player. With a healthy Cishek in the pen we should see roles more firmly established, resulting hopefully in a little more consistent performance from the pen. Once that is achieved the Mariners will most likely go back to seven pitchers in the pen, placing a fourth player on the bench, something that should give Servais more options he can use throughout the game, which he has not been able to do with just two position players and a backup catcher in reserve.
“You have less opportunities to pinch hit and kind of move guys around,” Servais said of the three-man bench. “As the game goes on, you kind of have to let it play out, other than pinch running for a guy late which is a little different than last year. It’s not pinch hitting in the eighth or ninth inning, it’s pinch hitting in the sixth inning that makes it more challenging, knowing there’s going to be another at-bat that comes around.”
The priority early in the season is to have enough pitching. At some point in the not to distant future, that extra arm in the pen should not be needed.
“Eventually we will go back to four guys on the bench. We have got to wait and see when,” Servais said.
At that point Servais will have another option on the bench, which could help late in games or even help in a position where a starter is struggling. With the roster flexibility the Mariners have, they will always have the ability to add the extra arm back if needed, but getting back to the more traditional balance with the four-man bench should help more in the long term.