Mariners Notebook: Dunn, Margevicius make strong cases for rotation spot
When all is said and done, no pun intended, the back end of the Mariners rotation could prove to be as interesting as the top.
The battle for the sixth spot in the Mariners’ rotation continued Friday night in a cold, wet and windy Peoria, Ariz., as the Mariners took on the Reds. Nick Margevicius got the start with Justin Dunn following, each throwing three innings and according to Scott Servais throwing well, in the Mariners 4-3, 8-inning win.
“Marge threw the ball pretty well, had a good curveball going,” he said following the game. “I thought his stuff was really crisp, and the same with Justin Dunn. Those guys continue to show well in camp, they’ve taken steps forward.”
While Margevicius has gone to work refining his secondary pitches, it is the changes that Dunn has made that continue to stand out. The increased velocity has been one of the better stories of camp and on Friday night, the breaking ball grabbed notice as well.
“The slider got better toward the end,” said Dunn who went to work on the pitch after struggling to land it in the first inning.
Dunn’s curveball was effective as well. What he didn’t throw was the changeup, a pitch he acknowledged that despite work on in the offseason, will be relegated to the back of his repertoire as it needs time to develop. It was a pitch he didn’t appear to need Friday night for any of the Reds, including Dee Gordon, who he struck out.
“It was a fun at-bat,” he said of facing his former teammate. “A lot of trash talking last year and just knowing his caliber of player and how good he is as a player, it was fun to kind of stack up and see where we are at and also understand how he thinks and knows how I think. It was a fun one, I’m glad I got him.”
• While often the odd man out in a rotation takes over a long relief role in the bullpen, Servais said again Saturday morning that it is more likely that the player would be kept ready as a seventh option rather than put in the pen.
• Still no word on the results of Roenis Elias’ MRI. Better news on the Jarred Kelenic front, however, as Servais said that there was a meeting scheduled for later in the morning to lay out a plan to ramp up his on field work. Kelenic has not been seen on the field since straining his adductor muscle a week ago.
• James Paxton is set to make his 2021 Cactus League debut as the Mariners have slotted him into the Monday start against Arizona.
• While the results haven’t always been there, Servais has been happier with the plate appearances of a number of his hitters of late. That said, there are still a number of hitters who have yet to get going, most notably Evan White, who has not recorded a hit since Feb. 28. This week Servais looks to get the regulars who have struggled early more at bats to help get them on track.
“I think that’s the biggest thing that I have seen some of the guys who are struggling a little bit, it’s more their timing,” he said. “Getting their swing off, you see them late on some fastballs they should be putting in play. Hopefully the reps help.
• Worth keeping an eye on especially with the bullpen struggles and injuries, Erik Swanson went more to his breaking ball and splitter in his inning against the Reds, and had success. Servais pointed to Swanson’s appearance as one of the standouts in the win.