Paxton on the shelf, Walker shines in rehab start and Iwakuma getting closer
By Shannon Drayer
A good-news and a not-so-good but not terrible news situation for the Mariners Wednesday as two pitchers appear to be well on their way back from injury and one is being shut down.
James Paxton has been placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left lat. The plan is to rest him and re-evaluated after 15 days. The hope is he will be able to resume throwing after the re-evaluation. Lucas Luetge has been recalled from Tacoma to take his place on the 25-man roster. Chris Young will make Paxton’s next scheduled start, which is the series finale against Oakland on Sunday.
If they stay in rotation, Roenis Elias should make the start Monday in Texas and then the Mariners will need a starter for the game Tuesday. Taijuan Walker may be an option. Walker threw five innings of three-hit, one-walk and 10-strikeout ball in his start for Jackson Wednesday night.
Not an option will be Hisashi Iwakuma but he is making good progress. On Wednesday he threw a bullpen session of 34 pitches – 30 fastballs and four curves. He is scheduled to throw another bullpen and will add pitches and a pitch, the slider.
I asked pitching coach Rick Waits about when Iwakuma would throw the pitch that would put the most pressure on the finger that was injured, the splitter, and it turns out he has been throwing it, just not off the mound. I was told Iwakuma has been throwing all of his pitches in his catch sessions. This is good news.
While there isn’t a plan put down in ink yet for Iwakuma, if his bullpen sessions continue to go well we could see him throw a simulated game on the upcoming road trip and if he continues to progress we could see him sent out on a rehab assignment on the next home stand. First thing is first, however, he needs to continue to build arm strength in the bullpen sessions.