The Seattle Mariners suffered a pretty big blow to their bullpen this week. David Phelps will miss the entire season after suffering a torn UCL. Many have speculated who might be added to the ‘pen, but few have mentioned Erasmo Ramirez.
In a recent report, Jon Heyman was told the Mariners are sniffing around to add more pitching. This came in the same breath as reporting that Astros starter Collin McHugh is being shopped by the Astros. How does McHugh fit into Seattle’s rotation?
Well, the Mariners plan to carry just 4 starters until April 12, when they will finally need a 5th starter. Erasmo Ramirez, who entered the season as the teams 4th starter, is unlikely to be ready by then. So instead of rushing Ramirez, or pushing Rob Whalen and Ariel Miranda to early, adding McHugh gives the team a true #3 or #4 type.
This would also allow Seattle to use Ramirez in the role he is best suited for. Which also happens to be a similar role to David Phelps.
Seattle signed Wade LeBlanc Saturday morning, who will serve as the long man to start the season. This would allow Ramirez to take his time coming back, and conceivably end the need for Ramirez in the bullpen.
However, the Mariners still have question marks that will play out in April. Guys like Casey Lawrence, Dan Altavilla, and LeBlanc, are far from locks. This isn’t even accounting for the potential injuries as well.
Even if the Mariners don’t currently see Ramirez as their Phelps replacement, they still need more starting pitching depth. McHugh makes sense for the Mariners even if Ramirez was healthy. Erasmo can and will play a vital role on this 2018 season. But for the Mariners, it would be better if it was out of the bullpen, instead of making 25 starts.