Ryan Rowland-Smith is scheduled to take the mound for the Tacoma Rainiers tonight. Don’t be surprised if he only lasts 3 innings or so – not because I think he’s going to get hammered, but because I have the feeling that he’ll be making his Mariner re-debut next Tuesdsay in Detroit.
RRS has pitched well in each of his last three outings in Triple-A, and quite simply, he’s better than Garrett Olson. With the M’s already five games out of first place, they’re teetering on the verge of non-contention, and they can’t really afford to run out the seventh best starter in the organization while better options linger in Tacoma.
With the desire to get Vargas some more rest and Morrow some development time in the minors, RRS looks to be next on the depth chart to get the call. With the way he’s pitched recently, he’s certainly earned his way back to the big show, and we’ve seen him get major league hitters out the past couple of years. He’s also the kind of pitcher who will benefit significantly from our outfield defense and Safeco Field, so it’s the M’s best interests to get Rowland-Smith back up here and starting every fifth day.
Of course, if the M’s don’t play well this weekend, we could see Vargas, Olson, Rowland-Smith, and Morrow all back in the major league rotation shortly. The M’s simply have to win two of three this weekend. Felix/Washburn/Bedard vs Huff/Ohka/Laffey? This is the kind of series that the team has to use to make up ground. You can lose Cliff Lee vs Garrett Olson. That’s understandable. The next three, though, the M’s are strong favorites. They can’t drop two out of three while the Angels beat up on the A’s if they want to stay in the race.