Iwakuma to start second-half opener Friday, 5th spot open
Manager Lloyd McClendon won’t commit to a fifth starter in the rotation after not being impressed with Taijuan Walker’s latest outing in Tacoma.
Seattle Times staff reporter
The Mariners have set their post-All-Star-break rotation. Well, most of it.
Hisashi Iwakuma, brilliant in Saturday night’s victory over Oakland, will start the first game after the break when the Mariners open a three-game series against the American League West rival Angels in Anaheim, Calif., on Friday.
Felix Hernandez, expected to start for the AL in Tuesday’s All-Star Game, is scheduled to start for the Mariners on Saturday, with veteran right-hander Chris Young set for Sunday.
Rookie Roenis Elias will then start the series opener at home against the New York Mets next week.
After that, Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon wouldn’t commit to a fifth starter.
It was expected that Taijuan Walker would slide back into the back of Mariners rotation after a short stint in Tacoma. But despite the appearance of a decent outing by Walker for the Class AAA Rainiers — five innings, one run — McClendon was critical of the promising young right-hander on Sunday.
“I’m not trying to bash the kid, but how we go about our business and our level of expectations from the minor leagues all the way up to the big leagues, it’s got to change,” McClendon said. “Five innings, 83 pitches and one strikeout — that’s not a good outing, I’m sorry. Not for me. And you can write it. I don’t give a (expletive). I’m sure his agent will be calling mad at me, but we gotta do better.”
In two starts for the Mariners this season, Walker is 1-1 with a 3.60 ERA; he has nine strikeouts and seven walks in 10 innings.
Reliever Tom Wilhelmsen made his first career start last Thursday, but the Mariners have given no indication that that was more than a one-time deal (at least for the foreseeable future).
Another possibility in that fifth spot is young left-hander James Paxton, who is scheduled to make a rehab start for Class A Everett on Thursday. Paxton, out since April 8 with a lat strain, pitched a simulated game Saturday at Safeco Field and said he felt well afterward.
• The Mariners’ 51 wins are tied for the fourth-most in club history at the All-Star break. Their 51-44 record is fifth-best in the American League.
• Mariners reliever Brandon Maurer, a converted starter, threw a scoreless eighth inning Sunday, hitting 99 mph on the radar gun at least twice. He has not allowed a run in 102/3 innings of relief this season, with 12 strikeouts in six games. As a starter this season, Maurer had a 7.52 ERA in seven games.
Adam Jude: 206-464-2364
On Twitter: @a_jude