Mariners’ right-hander Yovani Gallardo could get booted from the rotation this week, according to comments made by club manager Scott Servais on Sunday. Gallardo labored through his start against the Athletics on Saturday, expending 80 pitches in three innings and allowing two runs on five hits and two walks before getting lifted for Casey Lawrence in the fourth.
The Mariners aren’t exactly flush with starting pitchers, which makes the decision to remove Gallardo from the rotation a bit of a head-scratcher. Felix Hernandez and James Paxton are still laid up on the disabled list and likely won’t return to the mound until mid-September, while the rest of Seattle’s rotation currently ranks second-to-last in the league with a collective 5.03 ERA and 0.9 fWAR over the second half.
Pitching woes and injuries aside, however, the club entered Sunday’s series finale just 3.5 games back of a wild card spot and has a legitimate opportunity to vault over the other three AL contenders and make the postseason this year. In a non-contending season, maybe Servais would give Gallardo and his 5.79 ERA a longer leash, and maybe he wouldn’t. With the playoffs looming and a six-game stretch against the Astros and Angels fast approaching, that’s a risk the team can’t afford to take right now.
Without Gallardo, Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News-Tribune speculates that left-hander Marco Gonzales could get the nod for a spot start against the Angels next weekend. Gonzales was officially ousted from the rotation on Friday to make room for Mike Leake, and his 6.20 ERA and 5.4 SO/9 haven’t inspired much confidence during a handful of outings with the team. Like Gallardo, though, Gonzales’ performance on Saturday may have done something to change the Mariners’ minds. He crafted four scoreless innings in relief, punching out five of 13 batters and allowing just two hits as the offense rallied for a late win.
No matter which pitcher the Mariners decide on, they’re already pushing toward a record-breaking number of pitchers used in a single season, with 39. It’ll take more than one successful spot start to improve their standing in the wild card race and much more than that to propel them beyond the first couple rounds of the playoffs.