Catcher John Jaso is hitting leadoff for the Mariners against the Tigers and Drew Smyly on Wednesday. It’s the first time since 1978 that a Mariners backstop has found himself atop the order.
Larry Stone of the Seattle Times points out that Bob Stinson was the only previous catcher to lead off for the Mariners, doing so twice in 1978.
Jaso has a fair amount of experience leading off, having hit there in 51 games with the Rays. He batted .262/.360/.393 with 33 runs scored in 191 at-bats, which is really pretty good.
However, the odd thing is that the Mariners have him leading off against a lefty tonight. Jaso, a left-handed hitter, has rarely started versus southpaws in his career. He has a .183/.320/.268 line in 82 lifetime at-bats against left-handers.
Of course, the alternative option is probably Chone Figgins, so what’s the harm?
Jon Morosi of MLB Network and FOX Sports reports that the Mariners have acquired starter Chris Heston from the Giants. The Giants will receive a player to be named later, per Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports.
Heston, 28, logged only five innings in the majors this past season as he battled an oblique injury and otherwise spent most of his time with Triple-A Sacramento. Heston was solid out of the Giants’ rotation in 2015, posting a 3.95 ERA with a 141/64 K/BB ratio in 177 2/3 innings over 31 starts.
Heston will be under team control through 2021. He’ll provide depth for the Mariners’ rotation in the meantime.
Joe Nathan‘s agent, David Pepe, says his client wants to pitch in 2017, per ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick. “He’s like the Energizer Bunny,” Pepe said.
Nathan, 42, came back from Tommy John surgery in July, pitching two scoreless innings for the Cubs with four strikeouts and two walks. The Cubs released him and the Giants picked him up, and Nathan went on to pitch 4 1/3 scoreless innings down the stretch with five strikeouts and two walks.
According to FanGraphs, Nathan’s velocity wasn’t where it used to be, which is to be expected of a pitcher in his 40’s coming back from major elbow surgery. Still, with teams always on the hunt for bullpen depth, it would be shocking if Nathan didn’t get any bites before spring training starts.