Ariel Miranda Will Open The Mariners Spring Training On The Mound
By Adam Levi
Spring ball is only three days away and we now know who will be on the mound for spring’s opening day versus the San Diego Padres. It seems fitting that the Mariners hottest pitcher in the final month of last season will be on the hump for the M’s first game in Arizona in about 72 hours.
When the Mariners acquired Drew Smyly and Yovani Gallardo to fill out the back-half of the Mariners rotation, that left Ariel Miranda as one of few potential starters that would be pushed into a bullpen role.
Despite his 5-1 record, 2.62 ERA, and .172 BAA over six games throughout September of 2016, the Cuban-born breakout star will have to fight for a spot back in the rotation.
The fight begins on opening day of spring training when Miranda is set to start against the Padres this Saturday. He and other hopeful starters such as Chris Heston and Rob Whalen will also get their chances to prove worthy of a spot in the rotation.
But no matter how hard they fight, the caveat seems to be: Fight for a spot that will most likely open up if one of the starting five becomes injured.
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Servais even said that the use of Miranda and others in spring ball is to help avoid injuries from their top arms
"“We hope we get through camp without any injuries or hiccups,” Servais said. “If there is one, I hope he’s throwing well enough that he could step in and do that.”"
Surely Miranda’s performance at the end of last year is why he’s getting the first shot to impress the coaches ahead of Heston and Whalen.
But while the competition starts on Saturday, which will help those three guys create a pecking order for the pen come April, it will likely be their performances in games that actually matter that will give them a better shot at a starting spot down the line.
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If Miranda picks up where he left off last season, we should expect that he will again be the go-to filler when/if a spot opens up in the rotation. He can continue to make his case for that role during spring ball.