Scott Servais after Mariners 8-4 loss to Baltimore
Following Saturday afternoon’s deflating loss to the Orioles — during which three of the four relievers they used combined to give up five runs in three innings — the Seattle Mariners shook up the bullpen again.
Mike Wright, who was designated for assignment by the club last month, but cleared waivers, was promoted from Triple-A Tacoma along with new acquisition Matt Carasiti, whom the Mariners signed to a minor league contract during the first week of June after he was released by the Cubs.
In corresponding moves, Gerson Bautista, who struggled in his first stint with the Mariners after returning from the injured list, was optioned to Triple-A. And, after being acquired from the Braves about a month ago, Jesse Biddle was designated for assignment, leaving Roenis Elias as the only left-hander in the bullpen. Both Bautista and Biddle allowed a pair of runs in the loss to Baltimore on Saturday.
“It’s the do-good league,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “If you do good, you stay. If you struggle a little bit, we’ve got to shuffle the deck a little bit in the bullpen.”
The bullpen has been a consistently frustrating project this season. The Mariners reached the halfway point of their season with Saturday’s loss to Baltimore, and through the first 81 games they’ve cycled through 28 relievers — including using starters Wade LeBlanc and Tommy Milone to follow openers, and having backup catcher Tom Murphy and rookie utility infielder Dylan Moore toss the ninth inning in four games when the score was out of reach.
Entering Sunday’s series finale against Baltimore, Seattle’s bullpen had the third-worst ERA in the majors (5.29) — better than only the Orioles (6.31) in the American League — and was responsible for 15 of the club’s 47 losses.
Sunday’s moves are the latest attempt to find some sort of consistency at the back end of games.
Wright has pitched better with the Rainiers since racking up a 9.00 ERA across seven games with the Mariners earlier this season, allowing 11 earned runs in 11 innings. He is 0-1 with a 2.66 ERA in six games with Tacoma since being outrighted there on May 22. Four of those games he started.
“Mike had made some pretty good adjustments while he was with us before,” Servais said. “He was getting banged around a little bit, but his results have been better. We’ll use him in a couple different roles. He could go multiple innings for us. Maybe one of these guys that end up being an opener. We’ll just kind of play it by ear right now.”
Carasiti started the season with Cubs affiliate Triple-A Iowa, was released on June 7, and immediately signed by the Mariners. He has recorded two saves in as many opportunities with Tacoma, and has allowed two runs in 5 2/3 innings across four games.
His only majors experience came in 2016, when he appeared in 19 games for the Rockies, allowing 16 earned runs in 15 2/3 innings. He pitched in Japan last season before returning to Chicago’s organization.
“He’s got a little bit league experience,” Servais said. “We’ll find out, quickly. These guys will get a chance to pitch.”
Bautista returns to Tacoma after posting a 0-1 record with one save and a 9.25 ERA in seven games with the Mariners. He has a fastball that reaches triple digits, but that velocity has often come with shaky command.
“We like his stuff,” Servais said. “He’s still a young guy. There’s some things to work on there.”
Biddle posted a 9.82 ERA in 11 games with Seattle, and lacked consistent command. Should he clear waivers, he will likely be sent to Tacoma.
Mariners reliever Chasen Bradford, who was placed on the 10-day IL with a strained right forearm on June 3, has been transferred to the 60-day IL.
Bradford was tending to a family issue back home, and was not in Seattle on Sunday, but Servais said a second opinion on test results suggested the injury is UCL-related.
“I don’t know if it’s a surgery situation or a rehab situation,” Servais said.
This is Braford’s second stay on the IL this season. He was on the 10-day IL in April with right shoulder inflammation.
When he has been healthy, Bradford has been of of Seattle’s more effective relievers, allowing nine runs across 16 2/3 innings in 12 games, while striking out 11 and walking four.