The latest from the still-unfurling carnage that is the Mariners' rotation? Right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma has been placed on the 10-day disabled list with shoulder inflammation. Iwakuma had knee concerns recently but seemed to past those. Now, though, it's his shoulder, and that's of course a potentially greater concern for the pitcher.
Iwakuma's deactivation of course occurs against larger backdrop of what's befallen Seattle starters in 2017. Consider ...
- Tenured ace Felix Hernandez has been on the DL since April 28 with shoulder inflammation. .
- Lefty Drew Smyly has yet to pitch this season because of a flexor strain. .
- Lefty James Paxton, who had been working on a breakout season, is on the DL with a grade 1 forearm strain. .
For those counting, yes, that's four Seattle starting pitchers -- i.e., 80 percent of the hoped-for rotation -- presently on the disabled list. To put a finer point on it, the Mariners' rotation right now consists of Yovani Gallardo, Ariel Miranda, Chase De Jong, Dillon Overton, and ... Christian Bergman? Not an optimal arrangement, that.
Already, the M's have used seven different starters, and when Bergman starts soon against the Blue Jays, he'll be the eighth. Sam Gaviglio was recalled to take Iwakuma's spot on the active roster, and he could soon make a spot start. So that's nine, possibly. Assuming Smyly makes it back within his expected time-frame, that's perhaps 10 starters used in the first half of the season. Maybe more, of course.
In related matters, the Seattle rotation thus far in 2017 ranks 12th in the AL in starters' runs per game, 13th in quality start percentage, and 14th in innings per start. Given the current state of things, those numbers could get worse. That latter figure -- innings per start -- is troubling because it of course means the bullpen's being taxed to excess. The bad news is that nothing predicts future injuries as well as recent injuries. Things may get better, but that's not to be assumed.
In light of all this, it's worth noting that the M's begin play on Wednesday just one game below .500 and just 1.5 games out of second wild card position. Unless they get healthier in the rotation, though, continuing to tread water will be a challenge.