The ever-active Jerry Dipoto was kind enough to let fans savor the joys of Opening Day before getting back to making moves. The Seattle Mariners general manager didn’t make a trade on Tuesday though. Instead, right-handed reliever Evan Marshall was claimed off waivers from the Arizona Diamondbacks. Drew Smyly was moved to the 60-day disabled list to make room on the 40-man roster — we’ll get to that shortly.
Marshall, 27 in a couple weeks, was a fourth-round draft pick of the D-Backs in 2011. After three years in the minors working exclusively as a reliever, the right-hander debuted in the majors in 2014. In what’s been his best work to date, he threw 49 and 1/3 innings and posted a 2.74 ERA with a 2.89 FIP. He struck out 30.7 percent of the batters he faced while walking 8.1 percent.
Since that season, things haven’t gone as well. Marshall has bounced between the majors and Triple-A the past two seasons with minimal success. In 28 and 2/3 innings between the two seasons in the majors he owns a 7.53 ERA and a 5.76 FIP. His command became a significant issues as he walked 13 batters while striking out only 16 in that span.
Marshall’s success in 2014 came in large part from a sinking fastball that comfortably sits in the low-to-mid nineties and generates a ton of ground balls. He also utilizes a changeup and a curveball. The fastball was his bread-and-butter though, and has helped him have success against right-handed hitters.
During parts of three years in the big leagues, right-handed hitters have managed to hit a .292/.363/.438 slash line against him. Left-handers on the other hand have enjoyed facing him, posting a .336/.398/.517 slash line.
Perhaps one of the biggest challenges for Marshall is recovering from an August 2015 injury. While pitching against El Paso, Marshall took a line drive in the head that resulted in a fractured skull. Without attempting to delve into the psychology of an injury or an athlete, it’s reasonable to suggest the impacts of an injury as traumatic as this would linger beyond the usual recovery time. The right-hander missed the remainder of the regular season.
Marshall was optioned to Triple-A Tacoma and will begin his season there on Thursday with the rest of the Rainiers. He does have a minor league option remaining, which offers the Mariners some additional flexibility. He has shown an ability to get right-handers out in the majors and Dipoto is certainly hoping to draw out what allowed him to be successful in 2014.
Now onto Smyly. The left-hander’s move to the 60-day DL shouldn’t be too surprising as the timeline for his elbow strain is in the six-to-eight week range. But it all but guarantees Seattle won’t see the 27-year-old until June. Technically, he could come off the DL for a May 30th or 31st start against the Colorado Rockies, but that seems unlikely.
With that news in mind, the Mariners also gave an update on Felix Hernandez who exited Monday’s game early with groin tightness.
Felix getting treatment today on sore groin. Servais’s now “hopeful” he’ll be ready Saturday.
— Bob Dutton (@TNT_Mariners) April 4, 2017
Felix insists he will make his next start, but there has to be concern over him potentially aggravating something. That was the context in which he was removed from last night’s contest, a 3-0 loss to the Houston Astros.
The addition of Marshall doesn’t necessarily correlate with Hernandez or Smyly’s injury. But at the saying goes, you can never have enough pitching.