Mariners’ left-hander Drew Smyly will not start the season with the team after sustaining a flexor strain in his left elbow, reports MLB.com’s Greg Johns. The lefty reportedly injured his elbow in camp on Tuesday during a bullpen workout. He was expected to take the fourth spot in the rotation behind Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma and James Paxton, but club GM Jerry Dipoto says that a 6-8 week setback looks likely at this point.
Smyly, 27, completed a three-year track with the Rays in 2016. He pitched through 175 1/3 innings, his first full season after rehabbing a torn labrum in 2015, and came out the other side with a 4.88 ERA, 2.5 BB/9 and 8.6 SO/9. The Mariners acquired Smyly in January for outfielder Mallex Smith and two minor leaguers, and were expected to utilize the lefty as a core member of their rotation in 2017.
Now, it’s up to fellow left-hander Ariel Miranda to fill the No. 4 spot as the team prepares to open the season on Monday. According to Dipoto, Miranda was assigned to Triple-A Tacoma in order to remain stretched out as a potential sixth starter (via Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News-Tribune). In other words, the team was anticipating some health issues with their rotation, though maybe not quite this early in the year. Smyly is expected to seek additional opinions on his elbow in the coming week.
The Mariners acquired Yankees’ right-hander Nick Rumbelow in exchange for minor league righty Juan Then and left-hander JP Sears, per an official announcement on Saturday. Rumbelow made 17 appearances for the Yankees in 2015 before undergoing Tommy John surgery and could provide some bullpen depth for the Mariners in 2018.
The 26-year-old right-hander spent the majority of his 2017 season in Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, where he delivered an 0.62 ERA, 2.5 BB/9 and 9.3 SO/9 over 29 innings. The Yankees didn’t rush Rumbelow into a full workload after he missed the 2016 season recovering from Tommy John, but he didn’t appear to have any significant setbacks with his health or performance and should be ready to compete for a role next spring.
Sears, 21, was ranked 21st in the Mariners’ organization by MLB Pipeline. He was drafted in the 11th round of the 2017 draft and features a deceptive, low-velocity fastball that he can throw for strikes to either side of the plate. In his first year of pro ball, he split 17 games between Short-Season A Everett and Single-A Clinton, turning in an 0.65 ERA, 3.9 BB/9 and 16.6 SO/9 across two levels.
Then, 17, also completed his first year of pro ball after signing with the Mariners as a free agent. He went 2-2 in 13 games of rookie ball, pitching to a 2.64 ERA, 2.2 BB/9 and 8.2 SO/9 in 61 1/3 innings. Neither Sears nor Then will take the mound for the Yankees anytime soon, and offloading Rumbelow to the Mariners should clear up some room on New York’s 40-man roster as they prepare for the upcoming Rule 5 Draft.