Cishek pitches, bullpen scrambling

Seattle Mariners pitcher Steve Cishek throws during spring training baseball practice, Saturday, Feb. 20, 2016, in Peoria, Ariz. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel) AZCR111 (Charlie Riedel / The Associated Press)

I hate to sound like a broken record, but the path forward for the Mariners bullpen isn’t getting any easier.

First for the good news.  Presumed closer Steve Cishek pitched in his first game today since March 6th.  He threw an inning and struck out one.  All good. Hopefully we’ll see him again soon.

But today was not a good day if you’re cheering Seattle pitching.  James Paxton was rocked for seven runs in two innings.  I know it’s spring and guys are working on stuff, and the desert air does funny things with breaking pitches.  But I remember thinking the same thing last year.  It feels a little “I’ve Seen that Movie Too.” A great Elton John reference for those too young to remember. Even so, the big blow ups by Iwakuma against the Giants yesterday and Paxton against the A’s feel a little too deja vu for comfort. Late comebacks against third line pitching count little for comfort.

Today Bob Dutton in the News Tribune shared some of the measures the Mariners were considering as they cope with their bullpen injuries.

  • They’ve moved left-handed starter Mike Montgomery to the bullpen.  Out of options, Montgomery becomes a placeholder until the return of Charlie Furbush, while fellow-lefties Vidal Nuno and David Rollins still have minor league options.
  • They are hoping Evan Scribner may return by the end of April
  • The loser of the Paxton-Karns competition may end up as a bullpen arm.
  • Joel Peralta and Blake Parker, though both have pitched well enough, are not currently on the 40-man roster.  Though there is currently room, when Scribner returns somebody will get the heave ho.  As long time major league veterans, both are out of options, and neither are likely to clear waivers.

So, dunno ’bout the rest of you, but I’m white-knuckling it on further bullpen news.  I truly believe the ability of the M’s to compete this year will be based on the ability of the ‘pen to improve on last year’s performance.  Everything could work out, but the road to success is sure looking rocky.



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