When James Paxton went down with a season-ending injury earlier this month, the Seattle Mariners made a quick adjustment in their pitching plans by transitioning young left-hander Nick Margevicius from the bullpen to the starting rotation. In a few starts since joining the rotation, Margevicius has fared decently well (opponents are hitting only .224 against him this year).
However, after 4 strong innings against the Astros on Sunday, he was removed during the middle of the 5th inning after showing obvious signs of fatigue (spiking a curveball in the dirt on his first pitch, then hurling a low-velocity fastball over catcher Tom Murphy’s head shortly thereafter).
Mariners manager Scott Servais stated after Sunday’s game that Margevicius will hopefully be able to make his next start (slated for next Sunday morning in Boston), but I can’t be the only Mariners fan out there who sees a big problem with a regular starting pitcher being unable to make it through 5 innings effectively.
While reliever Ljay Newsome was able to save the day on Sunday by pitching two strong innings in lieu of Margevicius (without a proper warm-up, impressively), Newsome’s “pound the zone” approach is best served in settings such as what transpired on Sunday, or in long-lasting extra-innings duels in which high-leverage arms such as Rafael Montero and Kendall Graveman have likely already been used.
Is it the right time to call up Logan Gilbert?
The Mariners’ top pitching prospect (whose luscious tresses of hair only add to his brilliance on the mound) is ready for the bright lights of T-Mobile Park. Gilbert has shined in his Minor League career (a 10-5 record, 165 K’s, and a minuscule 2.13 ERA through 135 innings), and, while the sample size isn’t huge, he’s struck out 10 batters with only 1 earned run through 6 innings of work during the last two years of Major League Spring Training. In other words – the man knows how to pitch.
Listen, I get it. The Mariners want to manage his workload so he isn’t completely gassed by September (when the team could realistically be making a playoff push). Just like everyone else, I’d love to see Gilbert take the mound during that stretch of important games.
So, where’s the compromise? I believe it is in having Gilbert and Margevicius share the #6 spot in the rotation. Margevicius has shown that he can be an effective big-league pitcher, but he just might not have the stamina to be a 5 or 6-inning guy. If Margevicius takes the first 3 innings of his starts, opponents will input a starting lineup rich with right-handed hitters; this leaves Gilbert in an excellent spot for development in innings 4-6, facing mostly right-handed hitters and being tasked purely with trusting his stuff at the big league level and gaining confidence.
3 innings a week from Logan Gilbert for the next 3 months? Sounds to me like a pretty reasonable challenge for our top pitching prospect, while preparing him to perform at his best during crunch time.