The Mariners made a roster move this morning, recalling RHP Stephen Pryor from Triple-A Tacoma and optioning RHP Taijuan Walker to fill his spot on the Rainiers roster. Walker struggled with fastball command in his previous start versus the White Sox and with the Mariners sliding the rotation back one day to allow Hernandez to pitch in the upcoming three-game series against the Athletics, it made sense to send Walker back down to work on his fastball over two starts with the Rainiers rather than have him struggle against the A’s and then sit for nine days because of the All-Star break.
Now the M’s will send out Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma and Chris Young against the division leaders. McClendon also announced that reliever Tom Wilhelmsen will make his first career major-league start as the spot starter Thursday.
McClendon said it is a role he’s thought about for Wilhelmsen for some time. Prior to the season, Wilhelmsen was a dominant closer who endured some struggles to end the season. His success this year, often used for multiple innings, validates McClendon’s opinion.
“It’s intriguing,” McClendon said. “I wouldn’t be honest if I told you I hadn’t thought about it. He’s been impressive in the long role. It’s certainly intriguing, something that has been on my mind.
“(He has a) power arm, he’s got three or four quality pitches and he’s thrived in that long role . . . Realistically, three or four (innings). We’ll see how his pitch count goes.”
On paper, it appears that McClendon is putting extra importance on the Oakland series. The manager, though, said that’s not the case.
“I’m really not. I’m just doing what any other managers do,” McClendon said. “At the end of the first half you have an opportunity to put your best and most experienced pitchers out there . . . I learned a long time ago, you don’t put importance on one series. What happens if we get swept? Your season’s over? That’s why we don’t do that.”
As for the M’s lineup Wednesday that will face Twins’ RHP Kyle Gibson (7-7, 4.17 ERA), you will notice no Dustin Ackley and Mike Zunino catching. Some might have thought Jesus Sucre would make his debut tonight, it appears he’ll be catching Thursday’s bullpen outing.
1. Endy Chavez (L) lf
2. James Jones (L) cf
3. Robinson Cano (L) 2b
4. Kyle Seager (L) 3b
5. Logan Morrison (L) 1b
6. Corey Hart dh
7. Michael Saunders (L) rf
8. Mike Zunino c
9. Brad Miller (L) ss
rhp Roenis Elias (7-7, 4.19 ERA)