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Mariners' use of 'opener' strategy in bullpen game backfires immediately in road loss to Rockies

Ryan Divish, The Seattle Times on

Published in Baseball

DENVER — A bullpen start that featured the usage of an opener?

In terms of generating anger, outrage and disgust, those two oft-used baseball strategies seem to unite an often-divided Mariners fan base that usually only agrees the organization has continued to fail them.

On a hope-you-remembered-deodorant Wednesday afternoon at Coors Field, the Mariners ended their post-All-Star break road trip in disappointing fashion, employing some form of those two strategies to less-than-desired albeit somewhat expected results in a 6-3 loss to the Rockies.

It was a somewhat disappointing finish to the five-game road trip where Seattle, now 51-45 on the season, finished 3-2 instead of 4-1.

With season-ending injuries and subsequent surgeries to lefties James Paxton (Tommy John) and Nick Margevicius (Thoracic outlet syndrome) and right-hander Ljay Newsome (Tommy John) plus lefty Justus Sheffield (forearm/oblique strains) and right-hander Justin Dunn (shoulder strain) not close to returning, the Mariners have an open spot in their now five-man rotation that once was a six-man unit. General manager Jerry Dipoto, a man of many transactions, has been trying to find some sort of replacement in the interim but has yet to finalize a deal for even a veteran mired on a team’s Class AAA roster.

The dearth of starting pitching depth around baseball is palpable. Teams are afraid to end up in Seattle’s position. The asking prices for what would normally “cash consideration” or “player to be named later” returns are high.

 

And unless Dipoto finds a pitcher in the next day or two, the Mariners will make another bullpen start again in five days.

“Everybody wants to focus on those games,” manager Scott Servais said before the game. “Most teams in the league are going to have days like this.”

He mentioned the Dodgers and Yankees being forced into bullpen games due to injuries to their rotation. But no team has employed the bullpen start as often or as consistently as the Mariners.

“Coming into this season, I think teams were accepting of the fact of how hard it was going to be to keep starting pitching healthy because of the shortened season last year,” he said. “Does anybody look forward to them or like them? I know managers don’t. But it’s just the world we live in. You knew this was going to happen at some point during the year.”

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