By Shannon Drayer
Before I get into the Erasmo Ramirez situation a quick note. The Mariners made a roster move prior to today's game placing Josh Kinney on the 60-day DL and adding Kameron Loe to the 40-man roster. Loe had a clause in his contract that allowed him to opt out today if he wasn't placed on the 40-man roster and the team has elected to keep him.
As for Ramirez, as I noted earlier this morning, he is slated to back up Felix Hernandez on Wednesday. This on the heels of a two inning performance Thursday is somewhat concerning as this scheduling in no way facilitates building up to start in the rotation. It turns out there is a reason why the Mariners have cut back his innings.
When Ramirez was originally scheduled to pitch two innings following Jon Garland March 21, the plan was to start him three days later. That didn't happen. After the two innings where he gave up 4 runs he experienced a bit of triceps tightness so the next start was scratched as a precaution. He continued with his work, threw a good bullpen yesterday and is scheduled to throw 50 pitches Wednesday.
It is important to emphasize that Ramirez is healthy and at no time did he feel any trouble in his elbow. The tightness he experienced is not uncommon in spring training and the Mariners are being careful with him. It is clear that he will not build up enough to start the year in the rotation and I suspect that the Mariners will not put him in the bullpen. They will want him to build up and that most likely will have to happen in Tacoma.
So we are left with Brandon Maurer, Blake Beavan and Jeremy Bonderman fighting for the final two spots in the rotation. While Bonderman was considered a long shot to make this team when he was signed, it would appear now he has a chance. The reports from his last two starts have been particularly good and he has gone from a pitcher who looked like he was coming back to a guy who is fine tuning for the season. His fastball has sat at 92-93 in his most recent starts and he has had decent command. The biggest question mark for him at this point is can he consistently go out there every fifth day after surgery and long layoff. He looks good today, what happens tomorrow? One other issue with Bonderman is he is not on the 40-man roster. He is scheduled to throw 90 pitches tomorrow and if he throws well the Mariners could have an interesting situation on their hands.
As for Beavan and Maurer? In my eyes Maurer has been the most consistent pitcher not named Felix in camp this spring. Beavan is in need of a good start. It is impossible to say what direction the Mariners will go with this but clearly, what happens in the next few days will have a great impact on the final decisions.