BRENT STECKER

Yovani Gallardo, Mariners searching for answers after another short outing

Jun 2, 2017, 6:00 AM | Updated: 9:40 am
Yovani Gallardo threw just three innings Thursday while Casey Lawrence threw five in relief. (AP)...
Yovani Gallardo threw just three innings Thursday while Casey Lawrence threw five in relief. (AP)
(AP)

Following Thursday’s 6-3 loss to the Colorado Rockies, Mariners manager Scott Servais praised the work of Casey Lawrence, who went five innings on the mound to keep Seattle’s bullpen in good shape heading into the weekend. While five innings sounds like a decent outing for a starting pitcher, Lawrence actually came into the game in relief of Yovani Gallardo, who couldn’t make it into the fifth stanza for the second time in his last three starts.

“Can’t say enough about the job that Casey Lawrence did today,” Servais said. “Really appreciate his effort.”

Servais had a different tone when talking about Gallardo.

“He’s frustrated by it, you know, we’re frustrated by it,” Servais said. “We needed him to get deep in the game today. He certainly didn’t have it, then really struggled throwing strikes after that.”

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On a pitching staff that has been hammered by injuries, Gallardo has been the lone starter in the Mariners’ original rotation to not land on the disabled list yet this season. Even with that silver lining, the results haven’t been there in 2017 for the 31-year-old righty. An ace early in his career with the Milwaukee Brewers and an effective middle-of-the-rotation arm two seasons ago with the Texas Rangers, Gallardo came to Seattle hoping to bounce back from a rough, injury-plagued 2016 with the Baltimore Orioles. And while he’s been able to stay healthy, he has not been able to avoid the big inning, which is why he sits at 2-6 with a 6.24 ERA and 1.66 WHIP after 11 starts for the M’s.

After Gallardo lasted just three innings in Thursday’s defeat, giving up five runs on six hits and three walks, both he and Servais seemed to be searching for answers to his lackluster season so far.

“I’ve been feeling great. This is the best that I’ve felt the past two, three years,” Gallardo said. “You can see it by the way the ball’s coming out, velocity and everything, it’s been up. It’s just frustrating. It’s very frustrating for me. … I prepare myself each and every start to go out there and give the team an opportunity, a chance to win, and when something like that happens, it’s tough. I wish I had a better answer for it, but I haven’t done my job this year.”

Servais hinted that Gallardo may soon be working on some things with the Mariners’ coaching staff.

“We gotta get Gallardo back on track and get him doing what he does, getting us six innings, keeping us in the ballgame. It just hasn’t happened here a couple times for him,” he said.

Judging by Gallardo’s comments, he is willing to try out whatever is in store.

“Gotta keep working, and whatever I have to do, I have to figure it out. I have to figure it out as soon as I can,” he said.

If he doesn’t, it wouldn’t be all that shocking to see the Mariners move him out of the rotation when Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma and Drew Smyly return from the DL. At the same time that Gallardo has faltered, Christian Bergman looks to be finding a groove after being called up from Triple-A, throwing seven scoreless innings or more in two of his last three appearances. Rookie Sam Gaviglio has lasted five innings in each of his last three starts as well, and then there’s Lawrence, who has some experience starting in the big leagues and clearly impressed his manager on Thursday.

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Yovani Gallardo, Mariners searching for answers after another short outing