Mariners Notebook: Plan with 6-man rotation; setback for bullpen arm

Mar 18, 2021, 3:49 PM

Mariners Yusei Kikuchi...

The Mariners may have Yusei Kikuchi throw deeper in games this year. (Getty)


As they have all spring, Mariners pitchers Justin Dunn and Nick Margevicius will piggyback a start as the M’s take on the Giants Thursday night in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Dipoto: Trammell has ‘put himself in favorable position’ in LF battle

The two continue to compete for the sixth and final spot in the Mariners’ rotation, with the pitcher who comes up short most likely finding himself in Tacoma when the minor league season begins, pitching every five to six days and staying ready should a need arise at the big league level.

Coming off 2020’s stop/start, two-camp, two-month season, all clubs will be careful with their pitching. In choosing to employ the six-man rotation, the Mariners look to protect their starters by giving them the extra day of rest or work, but also could eventually see those starters go longer in games because of the extra day. To start, the hope is all six are ready to throw 100 pitches opening day, but as manager Scott Servais notes, it could be different with each starter.

“Each guy’s individual,” said Servais. “It’s really on an individual basis and then watching the game. If Marco Gonzales or (Justin Sheffield) or (James Paxton) are cruising along, let them go and extend them. We just have to take it game by game or week by week where guys are at.”

Another starter that could perhaps go deeper in games? Yusei Kikuchi. Does that sound like a bit of a surprise considering all of the 3-2 counts we have seen from him this spring? On his weekly show with 710 ESPN Seattle’s Danny and Gallant (listen here), general manager Jerry Dipoto said Thursday that’s part of the package you get with Kikuchi.

“The way he is using his pitches, particularly the cutter and changeup, has been so encouraging,” Dipoto said. “While Yusei does have the tendency to pitch in deeper counts, there is a lot of swing-and-miss stuff in there and it’s worth getting into those 2-2 counts to realize that. He also has a high capacity or threshold for carrying pitch total and that’s an encouraging thing, because for such a high potential strikeout pitcher, that is something that should play out.”

A skipped turn here or there could play into keeping pitchers healthy, as well, with Servais indicating that the Mariners would not go with the traditional skipping of the fifth or sixth starter and will use those extra off days where needed.

“We have to be very open to those ideas throughout the year. It’s going to be a challenge keeping all of these guys healthy,” he said. “Having a year like last year is so different, so unique, something we have never experienced before. You have to be open to all ideas.”


Taylor Trammell, LF
Ty France, DH
Luis Torrens, C
Kyle Lewis, CF
José Marmolejos, 1B
Sam Haggerty, 3B
Jake Fraley, RF
Jack Reinheimer, SS
Donovan Walton, 2B

Justin Dunn, SP

Nick Margevicius will follow Dunn in the game and get extended innings. Of note, Jarred Kelenic is not on the traveling squad for the game against the Giants. Wednesday night was his first appearance in a game since suffering an adductor strain in his left knee.

The game airs live on 710 ESPN Seattle, with first pitch set for 7:05 p.m.

Setback in the bullpen

Sometimes when you ask for an update, you don’t get the news you want to hear. That was the case Thursday as it was revealed that potential future closer Andrés Muñoz, who is coming off Tommy John surgery, suffered what Servais called a little setback a couple of weeks ago.

“He’s actually backed off the volume of his throwing and what he is doing right now. It’s pretty typical of guys coming back from TJ, sometimes there are periods where they will pull back guys and decrease the workload,” Servais said. “That’s where he’s at. He has not been doing a ton of throwing the last few weeks.”

Muñoz had progressed to throwing off a mound in camp before the shutdown. The hope had been that he could return as soon as early June.

The Mariners acquired the hard-throwing 22-year-old righty along with Taylor Trammell and Ty France in last year’s big trade with the Padres. He underwent Tommy John surgery last March while still with San Diego.

Mariners notes

• The Mariners have scheduled their first B game of the spring, and it will take place Saturday with Kikuchi getting the start instead of facing the division rival Rangers in Surprise.

• While not going into specifics on the hows or whys, Servais confirmed that Paxton has been or will be cleared to make his next scheduled start in a Cactus League game. Paxton, a native of British Columbia who was having work visa issues to this point, has been limited to throwing in sim games. Blame Canada.

• UW Medicine and the Mariners announced a partnership Thursday with the goal of helping COVID-19 vaccines reach underserved communities in the region. The Mariners will provide $2 million in funding to support UW Medicine’s community outreach strategies and mobile vaccination efforts, which are based primarily at Harborview Medical Center. The partnership involves both a mobile vaccination program and a community awareness campaign. For more information, click here.

Follow Mariners insider Shannon Drayer on Twitter.

M’s Observations: White’s slam, Kelenic’s return, relief standouts

Team: mariners
Date Starting Pitcher
Tuesday, May 30 @ 6:40 pm Yankees' Nestor Cortes LHP vs. Mariners' Logan Gilbert RHP

Mariners Roof Report

Brought to you by
Mostly Sunny
High 63° | Low 48°
Roof is open
Yankees at Mariners today at 6:40pm

Shannon Drayer

Seattle Mariners Eugenio Suárez Teoscar Hernández...

Brent Stecker

How big is Mariners’ 1st walk-off, success on homestand?

Seattle Mariners insider Shannon Drayer details what stands out about the M's and Eugenio Suárez in particular after his walk-off homer in Sunday's win.

2 days ago

Seattle Mariners Jarred Kelenic Cal Raleigh...

Shannon Drayer

Drayer’s Mariners Notebook: Castillo, Kelenic, 2B and more

With the Seattle Mariners off on Thursday, Shannon Drayer dove into some notes about Jarred Kelenic, the second base spot and much more.

13 days ago

Seattle Mariners J.P. Crawford...

Brent Stecker

Close look: 3 players who have helped Mariners get into a groove

Shannon Drayer, Seattle Mariners insider for Seattle Sports, details what stands out about J.P. Crawford, José Caballero and Bryce Miller.

23 days ago

Seattle Mariners...

Shannon Drayer

Drayer: Mariners’ ‘magic formula’ for wins can and should be different

"Comebacks are exciting, but this club shouldn't be in that position as often as it is," Shannon Drayer says of the Seattle Mariners.

26 days ago

Mariners Bryce Miller...

Shannon Drayer

Drayer: How prospect Bryce Miller fits into Mariners’ rotation plans

Bryce Miller is primed to make it three straight years where the Seattle Mariners debut one of their top pitching prospects in May.

30 days ago

Seattle Mariners...

Shannon Drayer

Mariners City Connect Breakdown: The story behind new uniforms

Get a look at everything the Seattle Mariners put into their new City Connect uniforms, as explained by Kevin Martinez, the team's VP of marketing and communications.

1 month ago

Mariners Notebook: Plan with 6-man rotation; setback for bullpen arm