Mariners Bullpen: Andrés Muñoz update, new plan for prospect Evans

Jun 5, 2024, 9:12 AM | Updated: 10:16 am

Seattle Mariners bullpen Andrés Muñoz...

Andrés Muñoz of the Seattle Mariners looks on before leaving a June 4, 2024 game. (Brandon Vallance/Getty Images)

(Brandon Vallance/Getty Images)

There was a scare for the Seattle Mariners on Tuesday night, as Andrés Muñoz came crashing to the ground attempting to make the tag on a play at the plate after throwing a wild pitch in the ninth inning. Muñoz got up quickly, but he lingered at the plate, causing catcher Cal Raleigh to look toward the dugout to indicate a trainer may be needed.

Mariners closer Andrés Muñoz exits game after collision at home plate

As Muñoz approached the mound, the trainer, manager Scott Servais and others met him there. After getting checked out briefly, those assembled on the mound stepped back and Muñoz took a warmup pitch to make sure he was OK. Rather than getting back on the mound, he headed to the dugout, where he stayed for a bit before eventually walking back up to the clubhouse.

“Muny has got a little issue going on with his lower back,” Servais said after the game. “The play at the plate didn’t help things there. He didn’t feel he was 100% so we had to go to Sauce (Tayler Saucedo).”

Muñoz has been dealing with a lower back issue the past couple of weeks but has been able to pitch through it with treatment. He may have been feeling it Tuesday night in Oakland as he appeared to stretch it a bit on the mound a couple of times in the ninth inning, and his velocity was down a tick from his yearly average when it perhaps should have been up due to not having not pitched since Friday.

“It’s something he has been able to work through, being able to pitch, and he has been so effective,” Servais said. “He’s had an unbelievable season for us, but an awkward fall on his back, we will take a look at it, take some pictures and go from there.”

What stands out to Ryne Stanek about Mariners’ bullpen success

Muñoz was wearing a therapeutic back wrap when he left the clubhouse but was moving normally. We will learn more after the MRI.

“We are always concerned,” Servais said. “He’s so good. He’s one of the dominant relievers in the league and we lean on him heavily with as many close games as we play, but ultimately we have to do the best thing for the player. We will get it checked out and see where it takes us.”

Muñoz has carried the high-leverage workload for the Mariners since Matt Brash and Gregory Santos were injured in spring training. Best case scenario is Muñoz will need only a few days rest.

Arms on the way?

The scare with Muñoz came on a day that started with encouraging signs 1,900 miles apart that help could be on the way.

In Oakland, Santos (right latissimus dorsi strain) threw from the bullpen mound. He threw over 20 pitches, both fastballs and breaking balls, under the watch of trainers and coaches who had set up Trackman to monitor the data. Santos was instructed to throw at 70-80% effort and had to be slowed down with his velocity, exceeding what was expected. It was an encouraging step forward but important to note the team is being very deliberate in how they bring him back.

Across the country in North Little Rock, Ark., Logan Evans made his first appearance out of the ‘pen, throwing two innings with one run allowed (none earned) on two hits, a walk and a hit by pitch for the Double-A Travelers.

Evans, who was a 12th-round pick out of Pittsburgh by the Mariners last July, ranks as the organization’s top pitching prospect by Baseball America.

Why rising Mariners prospect Logan Evans needs to be on your radar

Evans entered the day with a 0.84 ERA, with 43 strikeouts in 43 innings as a starter for the Travelers. At this time, his most immediate path to the big leagues would be as a reliever, but the Mariners ultimately see him as a starter. A move to the ‘pen to help the big league team this year would likely be temporary.

More on the Seattle Mariners

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Mariners Moves: Robles officially signed, another ‘pen option added
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