Brandon Maurer pitched well again last night in Arizona, lasting five innings and giving up just one run on three hits to the world champion San Francisco Giants.
Maurer has been getting good results all spring. He’s pitched 15 innings, allowing two runs for a 1.20 ERA. His strikeout-to-walk ratio is 15-5, and he’s allowed only 13 hits.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know. Spring training stats don’t mean anything – that’s been proven over the years. But still, Maurer is making an impression in camp.
Say what you want about the stats, Maurer has the major league look on the mound. He has a big-time slider, which was his go-to pitch last night. He was composed and not rattled at all when a couple of Giants reached base in the first inning, getting a double play grounder to end the threat.
Maurer’s strong showing in the Cactus League is further complicating the Mariners starting rotation battle.
LOCKS: Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma, Joe Saunders.
SHOULD BE A LOCK BUT SOMEHOW ISN’T: Erasmo Ramirez.
FIGHTING FOR A SPOT: Blake Beavan, Jon Garland, Jeremy Bonderman, Brandon Maurer.
It will be interesting to see how this shakes down. Who will be the starting five?
Spring performance is far from the only factor. Contract status, roster status, injury history, and experience are also weighed.
Ramirez, Beavan, and Maurer are each on the 40-man roster, and each can be optioned to Tacoma. Garland and Bonderman are on minor league contracts, are MLB veterans, and are coming off injuries. Neither Garland nor Bonderman is on the 40-man roster, so a move would have to be made to bring either one to opening day.
I suppose at this time I am expected to be an “expert” and tell you how it’s going to shake down. The truth is, I have no idea what goes on behind the closed doors of the Mariners front office. Personally I side with youth over the veterans, but the Mariners have made veteran leadership a real priority this off-season. My hunch is that they will commit to Garland or Bonderman (probably not both) and send down the younger guys.
We also have a starting pitcher back-up in Tacoma. Your Triple-A rotation will consist of five of the following names: Erasmo Ramirez, Blake Beavan, Jeremy Bonderman, Brandon Maurer, Danny Hultzen, Andrew Carraway, James Paxton, DJ Mitchell, Taijuan Walker, Hector Noesi, and Anthony Vasquez. That’s a ton of guys – heck, I may have even forgot someone.
No decisions regarding the Tacoma starting rotation can be made until the Mariners make their decisions about the big league rotation. This may go down to the final day of March.
Add another name to the Rainiers roster: after last night’s game, the Mariners optioned outfielder Eric Thames to Tacoma.
Thames has played very well in the PCL in the past (with Las Vegas) and we should expect him to thrive here. He’ll be a key cog in the Rainiers lineup.
Also, the Mariners reassigned two players to minor league camp: reliever Logan Bawcom and catcher Mike Zunino.
Bawcom is a potential member of the Rainiers bullpen, although he could end up at Double-A Jackson on opening day.
We talked about Zunino a little bit yesterday. His assignment will launch a big domino effect among the catchers in the minor league system, resulting in roster shuffling of other receivers and possibly even lost jobs.
There seems to be a general feel among media members in Arizona that Zunino is going to start the season at Jackson. I’ll try to dig around on this some more when I get to Arizona next week.
Rainiers single-game tickets are on sale now – here is the link to the online sale. If you know you are going to attend the July 3rd game, or a few Friday and Saturday nights during the summer, or Opening Day, buying now will get you better seats.
- Ryan Divish has this report on Brandon Maurer‘s strong performance last night.
- Nice story from Geoff Baker on pitching prospect Taijuan Walker and his mother.
- Larry Stone checked up on a bunch of former Mariners players, including Mike Carp.
- One of the new guys at Lookout Landing has an interesting piece on the future of Hector Noesi. The article suggests that Noesi will be in the Tacoma bullpen.
- For those into prospecting, here is a valuable piece from John Sickels: his “prospect retrospective” on Randy Johnson.
- Friend-of-the-blog Jonah Keri has a massive, fun article on Grantland about the art of base stealing.
- Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em? Not in Colorado Springs.
March Madness starts tomorrow!