Who will the Mariners odd-man out be in the starting rotation?

BUFFALO, NEW YORK - JUNE 30: Justus Sheffield #33 of the Seattle Mariners throws a pitch during the fourth inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at Sahlen Field on June 30, 2021 in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Joshua Bessex/Getty Images)
BUFFALO, NEW YORK - JUNE 30: Justus Sheffield #33 of the Seattle Mariners throws a pitch during the fourth inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at Sahlen Field on June 30, 2021 in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Joshua Bessex/Getty Images) /
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The Mariners added Tyler Anderson to the team just before the trade deadline in the hopes of shoring up their rotation, getting them a fifth starter. Now, they have a rotation of Flexen, Kikuchi, Gonzales, Gilbert, and Anderson.

However, what are Servais and the Mariners going to do when Justin Dunn and Justus Sheffield come back to the team from their injuries? That will give them seven starters, which leads to a few questions about what they will do for the remainder of the season.

The Mariners are finally going to have too many starting pitchers.

Normally, teams don’t fall into a position like this. The Mariners are in the playoff race, so they can’t just punt by continuing to give bullpen days or trying out minor-leaguers. Sometimes it’s a success, but more often than not, it seemed to be a failure. If they were healthy, we likely would see an entirely different team. They have AN ENTIRE ROTATION that’s hurt when you count Paxton, Dunn, Sheffield, Margevicius, and Newsome.

So, the Mariners had to trade for Tyler Anderson to shore up their rotation until either Justus Sheffield or Justin Dunn come back. Both pitchers are still expected out until Mid-Late August, so we won’t have to worry for a bit still. It’s a fun question to think about though.

I think when one comes back, it actually won’t be a worry. Going to back to the six-man could actually be the answer. It will keep Logan Gilbert’s innings down, and help ease some of the workload for different reasons on the rest of the pitchers. Marco has had a funky year, with injuries and some bad starts. Keeping his innings down so he never feels overtaxed could be good for him, and for the Mariners in 2022.

We just traded for Anderson, so it wouldn’t make sense to toss him in the bullpen. If they wanted a bullpen guy, then Dipoto and crew could’ve gone that route at the deadline instead. With Flexen and Kikuchi, they can limit their innings and bring back some of that earlier effectiveness we saw from them to potentially finish out the season strong.

The real question becomes, what happens when BOTH Dunn and Sheffield come back? I really do think that the Mariners are going to put Sheffield in the bullpen. There seems to be a worry that he might not have that combination of stuff and stamina to make it as a starter. This means that he could focus on the pen instead, upping the velocity and turning into a wipeout guy there, instead of a bottom of the rotation starter.

It’s either that, or the team decides that Gilbert has thrown enough, and shuts him down. There are two sides to this as well. If the Mariners fall completely out of the race, then there won’t be too much of a reason to push Gilbert, and they can shut him down. However, if they are still in the race, you could see them shut him down for a couple of weeks.

Teams in contention have done this plenty before. They are worried that if they make a run in the playoffs, you could end up with up to six extra starts from a pitcher, which could easily be 36 extra innings. Shutting Gilbert down at the end of august for two weeks, skipping three starts or so, wouldn’t be an awful idea. Well, he would probably be super angry and the team might suffer, but for the supposed long-term health and future of the team, you can see the rationale behind the argument.

Personally, putting Sheffield in the bullpen and dropping back to a six-man rotation seems like a great option to me. You get Dunn and Sheffield back in the fold, and all your starters get to keep throwing. What’s nice is that the Mariners will have seven worthy starting pitchers, which isn’t an awful place to be.

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