Erasmo sent down, is Walker up next?

 After another relatively poor outing against the Boston Red Sox last night, the Seattle Mariners have made the move to send Erasmo Ramirez down to Triple-A Tacoma, and have recalled Brandon Maurer to take his place on the roster. It appears that Maurer’s time with the big league club will be short lived however, as top prospect Taijuan Walker could be back in the major league rotation as soon as Monday. If that is indeed the plan, Maurer will provide a fresh arm in the bullpen for the next four games before the top prospect would potentially be recalled.

We discussed the Erasmo/Walker situation earlier in the week and noted that a poor showing from Ramirez and a strong outing from Walker on Tuesday night could result in the pair switching places in the organization. As luck would have it, the M’s top prospect would throw a complete shutout for the Tacoma Rainiers in which he gave up just four hits and one walk to go along with eight strikeouts. He threw 109 pitches and 75 were for strikes. Prospect Insider’s Jason A. Churchill was at Walker’s start last night and noted on Twitter that Walker’s fastball was still sitting at 95 and 96 miles per hour in the ninth inning after being in the mid-90’s throughout the night. Churchill also raved about Walker’s curveball as well, which is great to see.

On the major league side of things, Ramirez was his usual self against the Red Sox. Despite walking three batters in the first inning the right-hander managed to escape unharmed, but would go on to give up a two-run home run to Brock Holt and finish with five walks in four and one third innings. His struggles with control were apparent last night, and it’d be fair to say that he was lucky to have allowed just two runs to the struggling Red Sox offense.

It’s probably best for both parties to have Ramirez spend some time in Triple-A and reset. He’s still relatively young so allowing some of the pressure of pitching in the major leagues to alleviate could let him focus on fixing his control issues or they could decide his future with the teams could be as a reliever.

Maurer, a former starter, has been pitching out of the pen for the Rainiers for the last three weeks and will give manager Lloyd McClendon another option in the bullpen after being forced to get four and two-third innings out of his relievers last night. In 11 innings over that span the 23-year old has given up four earned runs but has seven strikeouts and three walks in that time. More importantly, he’s been able to get the velocity on his fastball back up to where it was prior to his injury struggles.

Maurer is still young enough that he could transition back to a starter, but McClendon seems to like the idea of using him as a reliever for at least the next little while. “It gives him less chance to think about things,” said McClendon on Wednesday.

It has to be noted though that the M’s could simply skip Ramirez’s former spot in the rotation as they have both tomorrow and next Thursday as off days. Although at this point in time and considering the circumstances, it appears much more likely that Walker will indeed make his long awaited season debut on Monday against the Houston Astros.

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Tyler Carmont

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