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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7 Comments

  1. I see your train of thought, but I think it’s a little too early to start getting that far ahead of ourselves. It’s conceivable that Maurer could still be stretched out and turned into a starter again, but the club wants to see what he can offer them as a reliever right now. From what I understand it’s probably a pretty fluid situation down the line.

    As far as Walker is concerned — why? A reliever generally becomes a reliever after they’ve failed as a starter and it is way, way too early to start drawing conclusion on Walker’s career. Let’s see how he does once he’s called up and gets half of a major league season under his belt, and then wait another year or two to see how things are turning out.

  2. Any chance Walker or Maurer could be a future closer? Less wear and tear…less thinking involved. Both have electric stuff that can shut the door at the end of a game. Or…who do you see as the M’s future 9th inning answer?

  3. I agree with McLendon. Maurer has always had the “stuff”. The problem was, IMO, that he started thinking too much about a strategy, instead of just throwing the ball. His fastball is better, and short stints of success may help him, should he be needed as a starter.

    It’s absolutely the right thing to do, IMO.

  4. I have to agree, Maurer did look excellent tonight, and I’m glad to see the velocity back up to where it can be devastating to any hitter. The difference with Ramirez though is that he doesn’t really have a ‘plus’ pitch. He won’t blow you away with velocity and his breaking stuff isn’t anything special, but hypothetically he’s a command guy. When he’s locating his pitches he can be an effective pitcher as he’s shown in the past, but take away the location and he has to rely on luck. Whereas any pitch compared to a 100 mph fastball is going to mess up a hitter’s timing. Look at Aroldis Chapman in Cincinnati right now with his heat and the fact he’s added in a changeup to his arsenal. He’s been practically unhittable.

  5. Not so fast on Maurer!!! He was ELECTRIC tonight!!!! He topped out at 99 TWICE!! Absolutely destroyed Big Papi and the Red Sox in the 8th! If this is what we’re to expect of Brandon Maurer on a regular basis then the Mariners gonna have some tough decisions to make. It definitely makes moving a bullpen arm at the trade deadline in a deal that much easier. Farquar, Wilhelmsen, Leone, Maurer, take your pick. Lets add some offense to the outfield. Preferably a corner piece to go along with Saunders and Jones.

  6. This team is going to get way better soon, which is saying something since they’ve been getting good results thus far. That’s the best type of improvement: internal.

    Walker replacing Ramirez is awesome. Getting Saunders (one of my favorite players) back is also a big improvement. The bullpen is deep and talented. Maurer could be another plus arm in an already deep pen. And our DH production should get better with Hart/Smoak replacing the scrubs who have been filling that role. Adding talent to a team that has overachieved is awesome.

    I’ve been more than a bit suspicious of this clubs ability to be a legit contender, but things are looking up. This is the most exciting Ms team in a long while. Hell yeah.

  7. Sure hope Walker gets the start Monday in Houston! As a Seattle transplant to Houston, I am planning on going to the game! Also, it seems like Erasmo has pitched better than Maurer. His last couple starts weren’t THAT BAD, he just can’t give them many innings…Why don’t they move Erasmo to the bullpen and leave Maurer in AAA to work on his craft?

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