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Mariners ace Marco Gonzales will ‘miss at least a couple of starts’ with forearm strain

UPDATED: Thu., April 29, 2021

Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Marco Gonzales winds up during the first inning of the team's baseball game against the Houston Astros on Tuesday, April 27, 2021, in Houston.   (Michael Wyke)
Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Marco Gonzales winds up during the first inning of the team's baseball game against the Houston Astros on Tuesday, April 27, 2021, in Houston.  (Michael Wyke)
By Ryan Divish Seattle Times

The morning after Wednesday’s frustrating late-inning implosion in a loss to the Houston Astros somehow felt worse for the Seattle Mariners.

It wasn’t the lingering regrets over all that went wrong or the mistakes made in blowing a three-run lead. No, it was something much worse. It was the news that they will be without their best starting pitcher for at least two to three weeks.

During his video media session before Thursday’s series finale against the Astros in Houston, Mariners manager Scott Servais announced that left-hander Marco Gonzales was being placed on the 10-day injured list because of a left-forearm strain.

“Coming out of the start the other night, Marco felt a little soreness/tightness in his left forearm,” Servais said. “We were able to get him an MRI (Wednesday). He does have a mild strain in his forearm, so he’s going to miss at least a couple starts. Fortunately, it’s not too serious, but it’s something that we want to stay out ahead of. So that’s where we’re at there.”

The Mariners recalled right-handed reliever Domingo Tapia off the taxi squad to take Gonzales’ place on the 25-man roster.

Gonzales, the former Gonzaga standout, pitched six innings, allowing two runs on five hits with three walks and four strikeouts in a 2-0 loss on Tuesday. He has a 1-3 record and a 5.40 ERA in five starts this season. But in his past three starts, including the past two when Seattle was shut out by opponents, he’s posted a 2.50 ERA.

Was Gonzales dealing with a forearm issue in his first two starts where he struggled?

“No, it really hasn’t been anything, just came up after the game,” Servais said. “He said he felt it on his last inning out through the other night. I knew nothing about it during the game about that. It was after the game. Talking to the trainer and talking to him, I thought it was something he should get checked on.”

Gonzales joins lefties James Paxton (Tommy John surgery) and Nick Margevicius (left shoulder strain) on the injured list. The Mariners’ six-man rotation is down to four original members – Yusei Kikuchi, Justus Sheffield, Justin Dunn and Chris Flexen – from the opening day roster.

Ljay Newsome has replaced Margevicius, who replaced Paxton in one spot. So who will replace Gonzales?

Many fans want it to be top pitching prospect Logan Gilbert, who is currently en route to Tacoma to start the Triple-A season on May 6 with the Rainiers.

Gilbert recently threw 74 pitches in a minor league spring training game. That means his pitch count has been built up to a decent level. However, the Mariners had planned to give Gilbert a slow build-up to making his MLB debut. With no minor league season in 2020, the hope was to get him at least five to 10 starts with Tacoma before bringing him up. They also want to control his innings pitched total to allow him to pitch at the MLB level in September. It’s much easier to do that at the minor league level than the big league level.

If the Mariners choose to go another route, they could look at right-handers Jimmy Yacabonis or Robert Dugger to fill in on a temporary basis.

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