A little while ago I noted the Mariners have a happy little problem to deal with: who goes down to Tacoma when Hisashi Iwakuma is ready to return to Seattle?
As most of us suspected, it was a race between Roenis Elias and Mike Montgomery. As I noted, it would come down to just a couple/few starts. Since I wrote that post, here is how the two have fared:
- Elias – 2 games, 9.2 IP, 10 ER, 2 BB, 9 K’s, 0-2 record
- Montgomery – 2 games, 14.2 IP, 1 ER, 5 BB, 9 K’s, 2-0 record
You’ve got one guy, in Elias, who is pretty much exactly as he was last year: most of the time, he’s going to keep you in the game. He’s rarely going to dominate, but he’s also rarely going to give you a real stinker. In that sense, his being a known quantity pretty much sealed his fate. That and the fact that he had his only two stinkers in the past four starts.
Montgomery, on the other hand, is getting his first crack at the Major Leagues, and he’s been outstanding. He had back-to-back complete game shutouts and followed those two with a fine outing where he took us into the 6th inning while giving up only 1 run. He’s more than kept us in every ballgame he’s started, and in this case his being an unknown quantity is to his advantage. We don’t know how good he can be. Maybe this is just a really good stretch; maybe his stuff – over the course of a full season – won’t look quite as sparkling. Maybe he’s just getting lucky, and when the rest of baseball finally gets a book on him, they’ll take him to Pound Town. Maybe, at this time next month, we’ll be talking about Montgomery being the one going down to Tacoma to make room for Paxton, and none of this will matter.
Here’s what I know: Iwakuma has fairly big shoes to fill. He’s been a disgrace since the last month of last season and he needs to prove he deserves this spot in the rotation. Because if he comes back from the DL and struggles, I have no problem with this team trying to move him at the deadline. This team can do just fine with the likes of Elias and Montgomery entrenched in the rotation.
We’re still a little while away from Paxton returning; I don’t even know if he’ll be ready by this time next month! His isn’t an injury that strikes me as one from which you can hurry back. It’s good to know we’ve got enough young pitching to get us through. For now, Elias goes back to Tacoma, but I doubt he’ll be down there long.