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Dipoto: Workloads of starters may lead to Mariners adding rotation help

Mariners LHP Marco Gonzales has more than doubled his career-high MLB innings total. (AP)

When it comes to discussing the Seattle Mariners and what they might do before the MLB trade deadline next month, the conversation tends to be dominated by starting pitching.

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General manager Jerry Dipoto doesn’t shy away from that fact, but if he acquires an additional starter between now and July 31, it won’t be because he wants to replace anybody in the current rotation.

“The only real concern we have with our starting rotation is as the innings start to pile up,” Dipoto said Thursday during his weekly interview with 710 ESPN Seattle’s Danny, Dave and Moore. “There are a couple of guys in there that are gonna wind up in innings thresholds that they’ve never been to before, and we want to be conscious of that.”

Those pitchers Dipoto alluded to would be James Paxton and Marco Gonzales.

Though Paxton is 29 and has been in the majors since 2013, injuries have held him back in previous seasons, and his career-high innings count of 136 in 2017 isn’t far away from his current total of 103 2/3 in 2018.

Fellow left-hander Marco Gonzales, 26, is just a few years removed from Tommy John surgery and has never pitched more than 122 total innings during a pro season. At 91 1/3 innings this season, he’s already more than doubled his career-high at the major league level.

If and when Dipoto starts shopping around for pitching help, he may be looking for someone who can spell the Mariners’ current rotation members down the stretch.

“If we have the ability to add depth in our pitching staff or even spread out our rotation – we’re not particularly looking to replace anybody because they’ve all been really strong contributors to what we’re doing,” he said.

That list of contributors includes veteran right-hander Félix Hernández, who has lowered his ERA from 5.83 to 5.10 since the start of June.

“The one guy we needed to get on track was Félix, and I feel for like the last five starts, Félix is really starting to find himself,” Dipoto said.

You can listen to the full Jerry Dipoto Show embedded above or download from the podcast page.

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