Mariners Moves: Andrés Muñoz to IL, Festa optioned in ‘pen shakeup

Apr 9, 2023, 11:04 AM | Updated: 11:22 am

Mariners Andrés Muñoz...

Andrés Muñoz pitches for the Mariners against the Houston Astros in the 2022 ALDS. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

(Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

The Seattle Mariners made an early-season bullpen shakeup on Sunday morning ahead of their series finale with the Guardians in Cleveland.

Seattle Mariners moves

• RHP Andrés Muñoz placed on 15-day injured list (right deltoid strain)
• RHP Matt Festa optioned to Triple-A Tacoma
• RHP Justin Topa recalled from Triple-A Tacoma
• RHP JB Bukauskas selected from Triple-A Tacoma
• 1B Evan White recalled from Triple-A Tacoma and placed on 60-day IL (left adductor strain)

Andrés Muñoz update

The loss of the hard-throwing Muñoz to the IL is certainly the most attention-grabbing move of the list. Mariners manager Scott Servais explained that it is as much precautionary as anything as Muñoz hasn’t been rebounding from his outings early in the year as well as usual coming off offseason ankle surgery.

“Andrés Muñoz we are going to give a little bit of a blow to,” Servais told reporters before Sunday’s game in Cleveland. “Andrés didn’t have a normal buildup in spring training. He just hasn’t felt great, kind of on the back of his shoulder he’s just been a little sore. Talking to the doctor here and where he’s at, I mean, you see the velocity’s there, but just the crispness to his pitches and how he’s doing it hasn’t been easy for him.”

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The 24-year-old Muñoz had a breakout season in 2022, posting a 2.49 ERA, 0.892 WHIP and 96 strikeouts to 15 walks over 64 appearances (65 innings), but his availability has been hindered so far in 2023 due to the shoulder soreness.

“We’re playing the long game here,” Servais said. “We know for us to be really good throughout the course of the season we need him, so… just giving him a couple of weeks downtime now is the right thing to do and let him get back to being kind of what he’s used to being. How he’s feeling right now, it’s like pitch, down three or four days, maybe pitch him again, you know, so we just thought that was the best thing to do at this time.”

Muñoz, who has appeared in four games this season, allowing no runs on four hits and a walk with three strikeouts, had imaging done on his shoulder Saturday night, which Servais said lined up with what the Mariners had been seeing.

“He doesn’t feel great, he’s not bouncing back really well,” Servais said. “This guy had offseason surgery on his ankle, it affected his buildup in spring training, his ability to throw many innings. We need him right and I want him right and clear in his mind that he’s going to respond and his arm feels good, and right now it doesn’t feel great.”

Matt Festa’s status

With the 30-year-old Festa, the Mariners are hoping he can get a reset with the Tacoma Rainiers after a rocky start to the season. He has allowed four earned runs on three hits and six walks while striking out five over 3 1/2 innings.

“His command has not been there. It’s important to all of our guys, certainly Matt,” Servais said. “It’s in there, the stuff has been fine, it’s just a matter of controlling counts and he knows that. Met with him this morning and just need to get him back on track. We need him, but we need the good Matt Festa and right now it’s been a struggle for him to get through innings.”

In 2022, Festa had a 4.17 ERA with 64 strikeouts to 18 walks over 53 appearances (54 innings) for Seattle.

New guys for Seattle Mariners bullpen

Topa, 32, and Bukauskas, 26, are both offseason additions for Seattle with MLB experience. Servais said they’ll be available out of the ‘pen right away after good showings in spring training.

“They’re ready to go. Certainly just coming from spring training, (we) like what we saw from those guys, so they’re gonna get an opportunity, they’ll get thrown right in the mix and we will go from there.”

Topa appeared in seven games for the Brewers in 2022, posting a 4.91 ERA (4 earned runs over 7 1/3 innings) with four walks and four strikeouts. He has allowed one run over three games with Tacoma this season.

Bukauskas has previously appeared in the majors with Arizona. In three games with Tacoma this month, he has allowed seven earned runs on seven hits and two walks with five strikeouts over 5 2/3 innings.

Placing Evan White on the 60-day IL created room needed to add Bukauskas to the Mariners’ 40-man roster.

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