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Mariners will give Marco Gonzales one more start, still deciding on James Paxton

Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Marco Gonzales (32) pitches against the Texas Rangers during the first inning of a baseball game Saturday, Sept. 22, 2018, in Arlington, Texas. (Michael Ainsworth / AP)
Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Marco Gonzales (32) pitches against the Texas Rangers during the first inning of a baseball game Saturday, Sept. 22, 2018, in Arlington, Texas. (Michael Ainsworth / AP)
By Tj Cotterill Tacoma News Tribune

SEATTLE – Marco Gonzales prodded enough to get the Seattle Mariners to commit to starting him one more time before the season ends on Sunday.

Mariners manager Scott Servais confirmed plans to start the former Gonzaga standout on Thursday in the series opener against the Texas Rangers before going with Wade LeBlanc on Friday.

He said he’s yet to determine whether they’d do the same for James Paxton and give him one more start before riding off into the offseason.

“We’ll wait and see on Saturday and Sunday, yet,” Servais said. “If he feels well, I would bring him back again and we’d look at probably 80-85 pitches.”

Paxton said Monday night that he’d like to get one more start to get closer to 160 innings pitched for the season. He was limited to 71 pitches when he tossed four innings in Monday’s loss to the Athletics, and Paxton allowed two runs and three hits with five strikeouts – pushing his season total to 199 strikeouts.

One more K and Paxton would become the sixth pitcher in Mariners history with 200 strikeouts in a season, joining Randy Johnson (seven times), Felix Hernandez (six), Mark Langston (four), Floyd Bannister (one) and Erik Hanson (one).

“You could still see he had the pneumonia and there was a drag on his body and energy level,” Servais said. “Hopefully he gets a next turn around and in four days he feels better and the results allow him to go deeper into the game.”

Servais said he’s also leaving open using Erasmo Ramirez for one more start, but that will depend on how Mike Leake is after Tuesday’s start.

5 for 25

The Mariners do have the fortune of a rotation that was more solidified top to bottom than any in the majors. They entered Tuesday as the only team in baseball to have five starters make at least 25 starts.

And take that stat while considering where the rotation was last year. Ariel Miranda was the only pitcher to make at least 25 starts, and he’s no longer with the club.

Paxton, Gonzales and LeBlanc have each reached career-high marks in starts and innings pitched this season. Felix Hernandez, who will start for the final time this year on Wednesday (with a career-high 5.46 ERA) has started 27 games. Leake made his 31st start Tuesday night.

That’s helped turn their rotation into what was a perceived weakness going into the year into maybe their greatest strength, outside of second-half trips to the disabled list for Paxton, Hernandez and Gonzales.

“As crazy as it sounds, when you got that many guys making that many starts what it really does is solidify what’s going on at the minor-league level,” Servais said. “Because you don’t have all the juggling around like we did last year.

“I look back to the Braves when they had those guys every year pumping out starts with Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz, and what that does is it really solidifies your organization from top to bottom. Unfortunately we just didn’t do enough on offense to win enough games and make a run in the second half.”

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