Right-hander Christian Bergman gets his turn Friday on the Mariners’ rotation merry-go-round when the four-game series against Toronto continues at 4:07 p.m. Pacific time at the Rogers Centre.
Bergman, 29, comes with more of a big-league track record than the Mariners’ other patchwork replacements for a rotation that has four pitchers on the disabled list. He made 15 starts over 55 appearances at Colorado over the last three years.
The numbers weren’t great — 7-9 with a 5.79 ERA — but there might be a Coors Field factor involved. His ERA away from the Colorado launching pad was 4.78.
The point is this: Bergman is the best option the Mariners have, and he was off to a great start at Triple-A Tacoma prior to his May 7 promotion: 5-0 with a 2.17 ERA in five starts.
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"He’s dealing," general manager Jerry Dipoto said. "The reason why we picked him up is his command. His strike-throwing. In spring training, the stuff was blah, and the command was not great.
"He was just middle-of-the-plate, and he was behind 2-0, 2-1. And now you’re throwing below-average stuff in the middle of the plate. That’s not great. What he’s doing now is, instead of hitting the middle of the plate, he’s carving."
Bergman allowed one run in 3 2/3 innings May 7 in a hold-the-fort relief outing against Texas, which positioned the Mariners for a 4-3 comeback victory. Against the Blue Jays, the Mariners are hoping for five competitive innings.
"He’s not going to blow you away with stuff," manager Scott Servais said. "The ball really moves. He can bring it to both sides of the plate. Sink it and cut it."
***Toronto first baseman Justin Smoak went 3-for-3 with a homer and four RBIs in Thursday’s 7-2 victory over his former club. He has a .295 career average against the Mariners with a .380 on-base percentage and a .477 slugging percentage.
If Smoak had hit at that rate while playing for the Mariners, he’d still be with the Mariners.
***Second baseman Robinson Cano was a late scratch Thursday because of a strained right quadriceps muscle and is likely to be a game-time decision on Friday. Asked how he felt after Thursday’s game, Cano scrunched up his face and waggled an outstretched palm to indicate uncertainty.
***The Blue Jays are banged up, too. Reliever Joe Biagini is making his second straight start Friday after 74 straight relief appearances. He gave up one unearned run in four innings May 7 in a 2-1 victory at Tampa Bay.
Toronto has three starting pitchers on the disabled list: J.A. Happ (elbow), Francisco Liriano (shoulder inflammation) and Aaron Sanchez (split fingernail). It’s possible Sanchez could be activated in time to start Sunday’s series finale.
***Also missing for Blue Jays: third baseman Josh Donaldson (calf), catcher Russell Martin (shoulder) and shortstop Troy Tulowitzki (hamstring) are on the DL. Designated hitter Kendrys Morales remains slowed by a strained hamstring.
***Nelson Cruz went 2-for-4 with a homer and a double in Thursday’s loss. He us batting .396 in 27 games since April 10 with eight homers and 29 RBIs.
***The Mariners have already ditched one veteran center fielder (Leonys Martin) and Jarrod Dyson appears headed toward backup duty once Mitch Haniger returns from the disabled list (expected later this month).
Dyson is in a 4-for-35 skid over his last 13 games, which dropped his slash total to .202/.294/.257.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners