Mariners could have an interesting decision to make with Wade Miley, Taijuan Walker coming back

Jun 26, 2016, 7:48 PM | Updated: Jun 28, 2016, 10:24 am
Wade LeBlanc earned consideration for a spot in the rotation with six scoreless innings in his M's ...
Wade LeBlanc earned consideration for a spot in the rotation with six scoreless innings in his M's debut. (AP)

Taijuan Walker threw a bullpen session before Sunday’s game and all went well. All indications are he will make his scheduled start on Thursday. Wade Miley also threw a bullpen Sunday as well as a rehab game in Everett on Friday in which he did not allow a hit in the four innings he pitched. Fingers crossed, the Mariners’ rotation is getting closer to healthy.

This is where things could get interesting. I have always refused to answer the “what happens when (insert pitcher name here) gets back?” because almost always something happens and there is no decision to make. This week, however, could be decision time as Wade LeBlanc’s six-inning, no-run performance on Friday may have warranted a closer look.

“It’s good we actually will have to make some tougher decisions here,” manager Scott Servais said Sunday. “Obviously what Wade LeBlanc did the other day was a huge boost for us. A guy that certainly has great pitchability and we feel good about running out there. Well have some discussions with (general manager Jerry Dipoto) and our coaching staff. We will have a plan.”

The fact that Servais acknowledges there is a decision to be made is interesting.

After a solid start to the season, Nathan Karns has struggled since mid-May, averaging just five innings per start and running an ERA of 5.40. He’s had trouble pitching out of the stretch and he’s been bitten by walks as well. At some point, he may be better off working out his problems at the minor-league level. LeBlanc is not a perfect fit as he would be a third lefty starter in the rotation, but he does run reverse splits so it may be doable in the short turn. It is an option.

What is not an option, at least immediately, is running with six starters.

“My initial response: no, I don’t like that,” Servais said.

Still, Servais acknowledged that when Felix Hernandez returns, there is the possibility that going six deep from time to time could help with Felix coming off his calf strain and if Walker’s foot issue lingers.

“It could,” Servais said. “We will look at it and look at the schedule when Felix is actually back. But I’d like to get the real Taijuan back, have (James Paxton) going, get Karns on track, (Hisashi Iwakuma) is there, Felix is coming then we are there where we were early in the season. Let’s shoot for that one.”

That would be plan A. There would be options, however, should a plan B be needed. A move will need to be made Wednesday to get Miley back on the 25-man roster.

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Mariners could have an interesting decision to make with Wade Miley, Taijuan Walker coming back