Mariners notebook: Who is No. 2 in the starting rotation?
PEORIA, Ariz. – The Mariners are undecided about who will follow Felix Hernandez in the rotation, so much so that they had James Paxton and Hisashi Iwakuma both scheduled to pitch Friday.
Paxton, who is dealing with the head cold that is going around camp, was scratched from his start and should get a few innings in a minor league game on Saturday. With an off-day next week, the team has flexibility in setting the rotation, but for now it appears it will be Iwakuma starting the second game of the regular season.
“Nothing is definite,” Scott Servais said Saturday morning. “That’s what we are leaning towards now.”
Matchups play into the decision. With right-hander Kuma at No. 2 and lefty Paxton at No. 3, in the first 10 games Paxton would face the Astros twice and miss the Angels, while Kuma would face the Astros once and the Angels once. Paxton would also line up to start the home opener. Three days later the Mariners have an off-day, so we could then see Paxton slide back into the No. 2 spot, setting up a right-left-right-left-right rotation.
“We’re just trying to put our guys in the right spot,” Servais said. “We do have an off-day coming up on day 11 and at that point it could allow us to separate the lefties, which is something we will look at.”
Guillermo Heredia, CF
Jean Segura, SS
Mitch Haniger, DH
Mike Zunino, C
Taylor Motter, LF
Ben Gamel, RF
Tyler Smith, 3B
Mike Freeman, 1B
Rayder Ascanio, 2B
Dillon Overton, LHP
Scheduled to follow Overton: Evan Scribner, Jonathan Aro, Nick Hagadone, Jean Machi.
• The Mariners cut down a little more Saturday, assigning left-handed pitcher Ariel Miranda to Triple-A Tacoma and catcher Sebastian Valle to minor league camp. Miranda was a member of Seattle’s starting rotation late last season but was mostly auditioning for a versatile bullpen role where he could serve in middle and long relief and also be available for spot starts.
• Speaking of the Opening Series in Houston, it appears the Mariners will get a break as Astros pitcher Collin McHugh, who has been dealing with dead arm, will most likely start the season on the 10-day DL. McHugh held the Mariners to just five earned runs in his five starts against them last year.
• I am pleased to report Edwin Diaz has dyed his hair back to its original color – no more blond. Diaz said that was for the WBC only. All business that kid is. The Mariners have him scheduled to pitch in Cactus League games Sunday and Monday.
• Something to watch for: With Servais’ plan to ramp up the activity next week for his regulars, he is going to do something a little different with the relievers. Instead of having innings mapped out ahead of time like we have seen all camp and in previous years, he is going to use his bullpen more like a bullpen, bringing guys in more as situations dictate. So rather than knowing when they need to get up and ready, the relievers will have to approach their pen time more like they would a real game.
• Jarrod Dyson has been pushed back another day or two as he deals with sore legs. There was some thought that he would get into a game this weekend but now it looks like he will test his legs on Monday. No need to panic about the Mariners’ leadoff hitter, though. “Dyson, the hamstring, it’s not pulled, it’s not anything. It’s more fatigue,” Servais said. “He could play right now, but it is more the point we don’t want to expose him and take a chance.”