James Paxton never had any of the big injuries, the ones that include torn ligaments or tendons. But it feels like he’s gone through just about everything else.
This time it’s a virus that Seattle Mariners manager Scott Servais said will likely keep Paxton from not only traveling with the team to Anaheim for a four-game series with the Los Angeles Angels, but also his next scheduled start, which was set for Friday.
“Just something else we’re keeping an eye on,” Servais said Wednesday.
It wasn’t the same bug Jean Segura had, which kept Segura out of the Mariners’ lineup for both games of their series against the San Diego Padres. Still it means Paxton might only get two or three more starts before the season ends after spending time on the disabled list earlier this season with a strained back and forearm contusion.
On top of that, Servais was trying to decide what to do with Felix Hernandez, who exited his last start against the Yankees on Sunday because of a strained right hamstring.
So if you thought the Mariners were still clinging to some hope of a miracle run to the playoffs, this is about as clear as the sign gets that they’ve moved on.
And this means Friday is likely a bullpen day. Roenis Elias, Casey Lawrence and Adam Warren all have starting experience, and with the Mariners’ clubhouse about as full as it can be with bodies thanks to the September call ups, arms shouldn’t be an issue.
What it can mean, though, is tryouts for next season.
“Most of these guys have been with us most of the season or have track records with us, so you don’t want to read too much into a small sample size,” Servais said. “But this does give us an opportunity to look at a number of guys. Shawn Armstrong has done great and worked his way into a nice little role with us right now. I’m sure there are some other guys who would like to take the opportunity and run with it, as well.”
Paxton has already pitched a career-high 150 1/3 innings this season and a career-high 26 starts. And he’s not the only one approaching career-high workload levels.
Wade LeBlanc is approaching his most innings thrown for one season. The last time he tossed at least 140 innings was in 2012 with the Padres.
Marco Gonzales tossed five innings Tuesday night in the Mariners’ 2-1 loss to the Padres. His 150 2/3 innings pitched this year is more than his previous career-high of 126 1/3 innings he threw between the majors and minors last year.
Servais said Gonzales’ continued workload is good for him – as long as he remains healthy.
“He’s hitting these innings marks for the first time which is really good,” Servais said. “Because down the road now he can say, ‘I’ve been there before. I’ve gone through that before.’ You don’t know how to do it until you go through it.
“But we will be very cautious with Marco going forward. We’ll keep a close eye on him in the rotation here through the end of the season.”
Servais wouldn’t admit to how many innings the Mariners had in mind for Gonzales entering the season, especially in his second year off of Tommy John surgery.
Gonzales cruised through the first half of the season with a 3.41 ERA in 113 1/3 innings pitched. He had a 1.78 ERA in four July starts.
Then came August. He had a 10.35 ERA in four starts before landing on the DL.
“He hit a wall. He had some rough innings in August and we had to pull back the reins and give him a breather and he didn’t feel good,” Servais said. “But he looked great (Tuesday) night. He looked like the guy we saw earlier in the year. It’s important that he finishes strong and I think he will.”
Right-hander Mike Leake (9-9, 4.11 ERA) starts the series opener for the Mariners against the Angels, who will start right-hander Matt Shoemaker (2-0, 3.45 ERA) at 7:07 p.m. Thursday at Angel Stadium.
The game will broadcast on Root Sports and 710-AM radio.