The Seattle Mariners loss to the Rockies Wednesday brought upon another edition of the failed bullpen days Seattle has been deploying with several starters injured. In this episode, Keynan Middleton made the start as the opener, getting rocked for five hits and five earned runs in one inning, putting them in a hole they ultimately could not climb out of.
It was the seventh time the Mariners have done this, and it dropped their record to 1-5 in those games. Whether it’s been Middleton or Robert Dugger or even Erik Swanson the opener hasn’t worked. The only time it remotely has is when the team turned to Swanson, before the bullpen ultimately imploded.
The opener just hasn’t worked for the Seattle Mariners
Now to be fair, injuries have been problematic for the Seattle Mariners. The opener wouldn’t even be a factor had they not lost Justin Dunn, Justus Sheffield, James Paxton, Nick Margevicius, and Ljay Newsome to injury. And if Hector Santiago didn’t get made an example of by Major League Baseball, then this isn’t a discussion either.
But injuries have hit, and Rob Manfred pushed an agenda so here we are. And the Seattle Mariners cannot under any circumstances run another opener out next week. Santiago will be back, and while the veteran has starting experience, he probably cannot give you more than three or four innings comfortably.
So what about Darren McCaughan? The rookie made an impressive debut, allowing zero hits over five innings in Colorado, surrendering just one earned run on a sacrifice fly. He’s a natural starter and could conceivably give the Mariners another five innings the next time around.
The concern though, is the next time this spot in the rotation comes up, it’s against the Houston Astros. And facing the Rockies isn’t anything like facing Altuve, Correa, and the Astros regardless of the ballpark.
The Seattle Mariners just selected the contract of Darren McCaughan, who has been pitching very well in Tacoma. Who is he?
The solution? It’s tricky. The kneejerk thing to do would be to try and make a trade. But is there really someone out there that can be had a reasonable price? And with Justin Dunn beginning to throw off the mound, a return for him could be nearing.
But whatever the team does, it cannot be the opener. It absolutely must be McCaughan, Santiago, or someone else like Ian McKinney that has natural starting experience and give them at least three or four innings. Because if the team continues to deploy bullpen days, they’re pretty much guaranteeing a loss every five days until Dunn returns.