Mariners notebook: Looking ahead with the starting rotation
ANAHEIM, Calif – Good things happen when the Mariners and Angels do not play.
Last night, the A’s lost about 40 minutes after the Mariners and Angels finished, giving the Angels the division title and keeping Seattle within two games of a wild-card spot. Today, before the Mariners took the field, Oakland lost again, giving Seattle the chance to pull within one by the end of the night. Not a must-win but a should-win and a heck of an opportunity.
With his team securing its spot in the playoffs and the division championship, Angels manager Mike Scioscia is resting his regulars. Instead of Mike Trout, Albert Pujols, David Freese and Josh Hamilton, the Mariners will be facing the B-squad.
Split-squad to Surprise lineup for the Angels
This lineup has a grand total of eight hits off Felix Hernandez, who will start for the Mariners tonight.
As an added bonus, Jered Weaver has been scratched as well and Wade LeBlanc will start in his place. Scioscia is doing this no doubt to line up his pitching for the postseason.
If the Mariners make the postseason they will not have that luxury and it’s looking more and more like Hernandez will be needed to start that final game of the season. Should that happen, with the way the pitching is lined up and no easy way to manipulate it, we most likely would be looking at Chris Young starting the wild-card game with Taijuan Walker backing him up. If the Mariners won that game then Game 1 of the Division Series could be started by either Hisashi Iwkuma on one extra day of rest or James Paxton on regular rest. Felix could start Games 2 and 5 on regular rest.
• Felix Hernandez enters the game just seven strikeouts short of reaching his career high of 232, which he set during his Cy Young season in 2010.
• Roenis Elias was flown to Seattle earlier today for an MRI on his left elbow but we have yet to hear the results.
• With the Mariners scheduled to land in Houston around 4 a.m. Friday, Taijuan Walker was sent ahead of the team to be ready for his start.
• James Paxton has not allowed an extra-base hit in his last five starts. Paxton has been impressive in his abbreviated rookie season, and as I mentioned on Twitter (and if you don’t follow me, you should @shannondrayer), while his stuff is fantastic, he doesn’t slack off on the preparation. When he was called up to the Mariners last September he was eager to use all of the tools pitchers have available in the big leagues. He watched tons of videos and did his best to use the numbers and scouting reports available. This is an enormous amount of information and this year he has received some help in learning how to process it all. He has been learning about preparation from Chris Young, who is known to be one of the best in baseball when it comes to preparation.