The Seattle Mariners continued the moving and shaking of their roster on Wednesday as they optioned the struggling Brandon Maurer to Triple-A Tacoma, re-calling infielder Alex Liddi to take his place on the roster.
The Mariners will be going through the next few games with 14 hitters on the active roster as they continue to deal with nagging injuries to Justin Smoak and most recently Michael Morse.
The demotion of Brandon Maurer stands as no surprise, as Maurer has been punished by major league hitters this season. For the season, Maurer was 2-7 with a 6.93 ERA and a 1.68 WHIP. Both left-handed hitters and right-handed hitters were terrorizing Maurer this season, as he allowed a slash line of .332/.391/.573 to opposing batters.
Mariners fans started off with high hopes for Maurer after he came out of nowhere to make the team. There were some who were worried that Maurer was making too much of a jump too soon, as he completely bypassed the Triple-A level. Unfortunately, those people wound up being right.
Not everything that happened to Maurer can be blamed fully on him. Remember, he was awarded a rotation spot due not only to a tremendous spring training, but also to injuries to other starters, most notably Erasmo Ramirez.
In all honesty, if not for Danny Hultzen's injury at the end of April, there is a legitimate chance that this move might have been made earlier, with Hultzen being in line to take Maurer's rotation spot. Both Maurer and the Mariners were stuck in the unfortunate position of having to leave Maurer in the rotation due to a lack of other options.
At this point, there should be no reason whatsoever that would require Maurer making the trip back to Seattle until at least 2014. Again, this is nothing against Maurer; this is simply acknowledging when a player is not ready to pitch in the big leagues. If the Mariners had continued to let Maurer walk out every fifth day, it would have done more damage than good. When young pitchers start getting hit hard, most of them start going away from the mechanics that got them to the majors. In turn, they develop bad habits that make issues worse.
Realistically, the Mariners probably wish they could have sent Maurer down earlier, but the untimely injury to Hultzen, along with the inconsistencies of Hector Noesi and Blake Beavan, put Seattle in a tough spot. Thankfully for the Mariners, Ramirez is coming off his first rehab start in Double-A Jackson on Tuesday, and he could potentially fill the hole in the rotation moving forward. In the meantime, expect the aforementioned Beavan or Noesi to fill out the M's rotation.
Again, Maurer's numbers don't really show that he was bad; they show that he just wasn't ready. Maurer should spend the rest of the 2013 season in Tacoma refining his pitching skills and building up his confidence, as he prepares to fight for a rotation spot in 2014.