Mariners call up Justus Sheffield to follow Yusei Kikuchi Friday; Shawn Armstrong DFA’d

Apr 26, 2019, 11:22 AM | Updated: 11:27 am

Justus Sheffield will make his Mariners debut on Friday night against the Rangers. (Getty)...

Justus Sheffield will make his Mariners debut on Friday night against the Rangers. (Getty)


Justus Sheffield will make his Mariners debut Friday night at T-Mobile Park.

Mariners beat Rangers 14-2, Gonzales improves to 5-0

As expected, the team has called up its No. 1 prospect to follow Yusei Kikuchi in a short start against the Rangers. To make room on the 25-man roster for Sheffield, right-handed reliever Shawn Armstrong has been designated for assignment.

The left-handed Sheffield has made four appearances at Triple-A Tacoma this season, recording a 3.93 ERA while striking out 11 and walking 14. Acquired from the New York Yankees as the centerpiece of the James Paxton trade, Sheffield followed an ‘opener’ Monday in his last Tacoma outing to prepare for coming out of the bullpen Friday. With just three days rest he is not expected to pitch more than a few innings following Kikuchi.

“He’s not going to throw 100 pitches,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said Thursday about Sheffield. “Just try to get us to the point in the game where we can go to the bullpen and go from there.”

Sheffield is expected to be optioned back to Tacoma following the game so reliever Mike Wright, who was acquired earlier this week from the Baltimore Orioles, can be added to the 25-man roster. With the decision to pitch Kikuchi in shortened starts every five or six outings, something that will lessen his workload as he adjusts to pitching on a different schedule than he did in Japan, there is a good chance that Sheffield could make a return appearance in another month.

The roster moves made before Friday’s game are about sticking to a development plan for Kikuchi. This presented a challenge as there was only one player in the bullpen with minor league options left: Chasen Bradford, who has been one of Seattle’s more effective relievers.

While Armstrong put up solid numbers for the Mariners in 2018, allowing just two earned runs over 14 appearances and striking out 15, he has struggled in his four outings since coming off the injured list for an oblique strain. The Mariners have seven days to trade, release or outright Armstrong to the minors if he clears waivers.

If Armstrong is picked up by another team, he will have left a very good impression on the Mariners as he was leaving, according to bench coach Manny Acta.

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