Who replaces Robbie Ray in the rotation?
By Trevor Pedro
The Mariners enjoyed an ultimate picture of health last season as Luis Castillo, Logan Gilbert, Robbie Ray, George Kirby, Matt Brash, and Chris Flexen made all of their scheduled starts. That NEVER happens in baseball. Aches and pains always cause starters to miss time or get bumped back in the rotation. We saw that this week when Marco Gonzales stepped up for Logan Gilbert. The rotation was dealt a significant blow this week, as veteran southpaw Robbie Ray is out of the year.
With Chris Flexen struggling and filling Ray's spot in the rotation, the team might look inside and outside the organization to stabilize the staff. The options are plenty, but if you ask President of Baseball Operations Jerry Dipoto, he will mark the trade route off the list for now.
Parsing Jerry's comments on Seattle Sports 710 morning show, the first one up (if Flexen continues to struggle) would be Easton McGee, mainly because he has options and adds another lefty into the rotation. McGee has performed well in Tacoma with a 3 – 0 record and a solid WHIP (1.22). The 25-year-old is good at avoiding barrels and inducing weak contact. Tommy Millone probably stays in Tacoma, as the team won't want to risk exposing the veteran to waivers again.
I keep gravitating back to the last sentence of Dipoto's comment, "a move to thrive and not survive." Easton McGee and, to an extent, Tommy Milone are likely survive-type moves. What is the thrive type move? It could be digging into a stacked Arkansas Travelers' rotation that includes top pitching prospects, Bryce Miller (6.41 ERA) and Emerson Hancock (7.50). Both are off to slow starts, meaning the team might be reluctant to make the call, but if you are looking at the upside, this would be the move.
We'll probably see Flexen get a few more starts to buy the team time as they sort out their pitching options. Here is to hoping Dipoto doesn't wait too long to fill the Robbie Ray-sized hole in the rotation; the Mariners' playoff hopes might depend on it.