Mariners Shut Down Danny Hultzen

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According to Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times, the Mariners have decided to shut down Danny Hultzen for the remainder of the season. Hultzen is said to be dealing with shoulder fatigue, and the M’s opted not to risk further injury. Divish also notes that there is still hope the 25-year-old southpaw will be able to pitch in the Arizona Fall League or in the instructional league this winter.

The career of Danny Hultzen has been a turbulent one. The Seattle Mariners spent the no.2 overall pick in the 2011 draft on the University of Virginia alum. Hultzen was billed as a “pro ready pitcher,” and was expected to race through the M’s system. Instead, injuries have derailed his career. Hultzen missed the entire 2014 season recovering from offseason shoulder surgery, and pitched just 8 innings this season before being shut down.

Hultzen has been dominant when healthy in the minor leagues. He sports a career record of 14-9, and has registered an ERA of 2.84 across 35 outings. Hultzen has struck out 186 hitters during his career, and has walked 87 over the course of 167.2 innings. He was well on his way to making his Mariners debut in 2013 before going down with the shoulder injury. Across 6 starts with the Tacoma Rainiers in 2013, Hultzen was 4-1 with a 2.05 ERA.

After making a brief appearance with the Mariners in Spring Training, Hultzen began the 2015 season with Seattle’s double-A affiliate in Jackson. The former top prospect made just 3 starts for the Generals, going 0-0 with a 3.38 ERA. He struck out 8 and walked 5 across 8 innings of work. There is little doubt Seattle was hoping to see more from Danny in 2015, but playing it safe is likely a wise decision.

It is anyone’s guess what the future holds for Danny Hultzen, but I wish him the best. He always comes across like a nice young man with a very positive attitude. Hultzen was constantly lumped together with Taijuan Walker and James Paxton in the minor leagues. The three young hurlers represented the future of the Mariners’ starting rotation. Danny was by far the most pro ready of the group, and yet he is the last of the three to take the mound at Safeco Field.

Many will use today’s news as concrete proof the Mariners made a critical mistake in drafting Hultzen. However, if the Washington, DC product never escapes the “bust” label, it will not be for a lack of effort. Not many lefties have the raw ability of Danny, and not many have his misfortune either. Had it not been for the numerous injuries, Hultzen would likely be sitting in the dugout at Safeco Field right now. Some notable players were selected after Hultzen in the 2011 draft, but he was the right decision at the time.

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I sincerely hope the Mariners decision to end Danny Hultzen’s 2015 season allows him the extra rest he needs to regain full health. A strong showing in the Arizona Fall League could propel him to make him M’s debut in 2016. I still believe it may be best for his future to transition to the bullpen. This would allow him to make it to Seattle sooner, and would place less strain on his problematic left shoulder. There is always room for an effective left-handed reliever, and Hultzen has more than enough talent to carve out a long career.

Next: Mariners Trade Target: Jonathan Lucroy

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