COMMENTARY | The Seattle Mariners grabbed Jeremy Bonderman, who hadn't pitched in a major league game since 2010, off of the scrap heap prior to the 2013 season. Eventually, they called him up June 2 to make an emergency start against the Minnesota Twins. Bonderman ended up giving the club seven starts, four of which were good and three of which were disastrous.
As great as the story is that he came out of nowhere for a few starts and one win, the announcement July 8 to designate Bonderman for assignment should not come as a surprise. The Mariners simply had to make the move, which both makes the team better now and benefits its future.
Lucas Luetge is the man up for now, but that will likely be only temporarily or a precursor to another transaction. A marginally effective reliever in 2012, Luetge could stick around in Seattle for a while if the Mariners demote a struggling young pitcher like Carter Capps or Danny Farquhar, or if Oliver Perez is dealt in the next couple of weeks.
The more important factor is that the move will give Erasmo Ramirez, who is expected to be called up to start Thursday against the Boston Red Sox, a chance to be in the rotation at the major league level. Ramirez was expected to be a middle-of-the-rotation guy for Seattle this year, but a triceps injury kept him inactive until late May. Since returning, Ramirez has been pitching very well in AAA Tacoma while waiting for the inevitable call up.
After starting the season in the bullpen, Ramirez made eight starts in 2012, mostly experiencing success. Then only 22, Ramirez went 1-3 with a 3.36 ERA in his first stint in the big leagues. Most impressively, he showed excellent command of a low-90s fastball and sinker, striking out four batters for each one he walked.
The success has continued in seven post-injury starts in the minor leagues this year, leaving little reason for Ramirez to still be in Tacoma. His strikeout rate has even gone up to 8.66 per nine innings, the highest of any season during his minor league career. Ramirez should be a solid three or four starter for the Mariners in the future, who isn't overpowering but simply throws a ton of strikes.
Ramirez will almost certainly be an upgrade over Bonderman, despite the latter putting in a few good starts during his comeback effort. Even when Bonderman was pitching well, the numbers suggested that this was unsustainable, as he was striking out just 3.8 per nine and walking more than that. When Bonderman was bad, he was really bad, giving up at least six runs on three separate occasions.
The reasons to watch the Mariners right now are the numerous young prospects in the big leagues that could be making a difference in a Seattle uniform years down the road. Ramirez joins that group as possibly one the most exciting members. Bonderman earned another chance at the big leagues, and maybe showed enough to be picked up by another organization, but it was a move a long time coming.
Nathaniel Reeves is a lifelong Seattle sports follower who is studying journalism at the University of Washington. He currently covers sports for The UW Daily.
- Sports & Recreation
- Jeremy Bonderman
- Seattle Mariners
- The Mariners
- Erasmo Ramirez