29-year old righty reliever Troy Wilhelmsen has been yanked from the closer’s job for now. He has pitched in 28 games (0 starts) for the Mariners so far this year and he is 0-2 with 16 saves, a 3.77 ERA and a 1.12 WHIP. But, in June, Wilhelmsen has had his share of issues. He has pitched in 6 games (0 starts) so far this month for the Mariners and he is 0-2 with 4 saves, a 19.29 ERA and a 3.21 WHIP. He has given up 8 hits and he has walked 7 batters while whiffing 4 of them in his first 4 2/3 innings this month….which is pretty pathetic. 31-year old lefty Oliver Perez and 22-year old righty Carter Capps could share the closer’s job for the Mariners for the time being. Perez has pitched in 27 games (0 starts) so far this year for the Mariners and he is 1-1 with 1 save, a 1.11 ERA and a 1.32 WHIP. Capps has pitched in 26 games (0 starts) for the Mariners so far this year and he is 2-1 with a 3.54 ERA and a 1.36 WHIP. It will be interesting to see if Wilhelmsen can earn the trust of manager Eric Wedge and get his closer’s gig back in the near future. That being said, Perez and Capps have the stuff to convert a lot of saves for the Mariners.
The Mariners have signed 41-year old righty swinging catcher Henry Blanco to a 1-year deal. He played in 15 games for the Blue Jays earlier this year and he was 7 for 38 (.184 avg, .525 OPS) with 3 runs scored, 0 homers and 0 RBIs. Blanco has now played in 936 games in his first 16 years in the majors and he is 603 of 2,665 (.226 avg, .656 OPS) with 266 runs scored, 69 homers, 284 RBIs and 6 stolen bases. Blanco is still a solid defensive catcher and he will be rookie Mike Zunino’s new backup moving forward.
The Mariners have designated 33-year old righty swinging catcher Kelly Shoppach for assignment. Shoppach played in 35 games for the Mariners this year and he was 21 for 107 (.196 avg, .638 OPS) with 11 runs scored, 3 homers and 9 RBIs. Shoppach whiffed an amazingly awful 45 times while only walking 12 times for the Mariners this year. Shoppach has now played in 571 games in his first 9 years in the majors and he is 361 of 1,614 (.224 avg, .726 OPS) with 208 runs scored, 70 homers, 216 RBIs and 1 stolen base. Shoppach shouldn’t have too hard of a time finding a new job.
The Mariners have designated 26-year old righty swinging catcher Brandon Bantz for assignment. Bantz played in 1 game for the Mariners this year and he was 0 for 2 with a whiff. Bantz also played in 17 games in AA+AAA-ball for the Mariners this year and he was 11 for 55 (.200 avg, .582 OPS) with 5 runs scored, 2 homers, 5 RBIs and 1 stolen base. Bantz has now played in 256 games in his first five years in the minors and he is 186 of 817 (.228 avg, .668 OPS) with 108 runs scored, 18 homers, 105 RBIs and 2 stolen bases. I highly doubt that Bantz will be claimed off waivers, so he will probably stay with the Mariners in the minors.
UPDATE: (6/14/2013) - The Mariners have outrighted Brandon Bantz to AAA.
The Seattle Mariners have called up 22-year old righty swinging catcher Mike Zunino. Zunino played in 47 games in AAA-ball this year and he was 44 of 185 (.238 avg, .806 OPS) with 34 runs scored, 11 homers and 43 RBIs. Zunino has played in 91 games in his first two years in the minors for the Mariners and he was 102 of 346 (.295 avg, .961 OPS) with 69 runs scored, 24 homers, 86 RBIs and 1 stolen base. Zunino came into this season as the Mariners’ #1 prospect according to Baseball America. Zunino will take over as the Mariners’ starting catcher with Kelly Shoppach backing him up.
27-year old righty starting pitcher “King” Felix Hernandez and 32-year old righty starting pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma have been awesome at the top of the rotation for the Mariners so far in 2013. Hernandez has pitched in 14 games (all starts) for the Mariners so far this year and he is 7-4 with a 2.49 ERA and a 1.04 WHIP. He has given up 83 hits and 19 walks while whiffing 102 batters in his first 97 2/3 innings in 2013. Iwakuma has been even better than King Felix so far in 2013. Iwakuma has pitched in 14 games (all starts) for the Mariners so far this year and he is 7-1 with a 1.79 ERA and a 0.82 WHIP. He has only given up 64 hits and 14 walks while whiffing 87 batters in his first 95 1/3 innings this year, which are eye popping numbers. The Mariners hope this pair keeps rolling along in 2013.
23-year old righty reliever Carson Smith came into this season as the Mariners’ #16 prospect according to Baseball America. He has pitched in 18 games (0 starts) in AA-ball so far this year and he is 0-2 with 5 saves, a 2.45 ERA and a 0.98 WHIP. Smith has now pitched in 67 games (0 starts) in his first two years in the minors and he is 5-3 with 20 saves, a 2.80 ERA and a 1.25 WHIP. Smith gave up only 67 hits and 33 walks in his first 80 1/3 innings while whiffing 103 batters, which is impressive. Smith will likely get his first shot with the Mariners at some point in 2013, if he keeps rolling like he is right now.
The Mariners have placed 25-year old righty swinging catcher Jesus Sucre on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to June 5th, due to a left hand injury. Sucre has played in 8 games for the Mariners so far this year and he is 5 for 26 (.192 avg, .434 OPS) with 1 run scored, 0 homers and 3 RBIs. 33-year old righty swinging Kelly Shoppach will likely hand most of the work behind the plate until Sucre returns to action. Shoppach has played in 31 games so far this year for the Mariners and he is 19 for 98 (.194 avg, .629 OPS) with 10 runs scored, 3 homers and 9 RBIs.
35-year old righty starting pitcher Aaron Harang is back on the right path for the Mariners. He had a rough May, but he has been solid since May 1st. Since May 1st, Harang has started 5 games for the Mariners and he is 2-2 with a 3.52 ERA and a 1.01 WHIP. Harang has now pitched in 8 games (all starts) for the Mariners overall this year and he is 2-5 with a 5.82 ERA and a 1.29 WHIP. The Mariners have to be happy with the way Harang is now pitching and he could give them a solid #3 starter if he can keep up the good work.
The Mariners have placed 26-year old switch-hitting 1B Justin Smoak on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to May 30th due to a strained right oblique. He has played in 46 games for the Mariners so far this year and he is 37 of 154 (.240 avg, .694 OPS) with 15 runs scored, 3 homers and 8 RBIs. Smoak has now played in 331 games in his first four years with the Mariners and he is 269 of 1,177 (.229 avg, .687 OPS) with 113 runs scored, 42 homers, 128 RBIs and 1 stolen base. Smoak could be running out of time as the Mariners’ starting 1B if he doesn’t start hitting when he comes off the D.L.