Cactus League Nights: Mariners at Rangers

marc w · March 20, 2021 at 5:53 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Robert Dugger vs. Wes Benjamin, 6:05pm

Gone are the 7 inning games, the “rollover inning,” and the weird take-the-pitcher-out-in-one-inning-but-bring-them-back-in-the-next. The games are going to start looking a bit more normal from here on out. Adding to the verisimilitude is the fact that we’ve got a night game, and a night game against a division rival.

But it’s not a perfect simulacrum. For one, the M’s start Robert Dugger, an add-on in the Dee Strange-Gordon trade in late 2017 (the larger prize was Nick Neidert). Dugger was coming off a good year in the Midwest League, and went on to pitch quite well in AA for the Marlins. A poor start in AAA delayed his ascent somewhat, but he went on to pitch in the majors in both 2019 and 2020. His 2019 campaign was a somewhat rocky introduction, but so are most young starters’, and it was something he could buil…no, no, just no. Like many of the best things in life, Dugger utterly collapsed in 2020. He was Nestor Cortes Jr.’s doppelganger on the east coast, and his season lasted just a bit longer than Cortes’. And as with Cortes, the Marlins had seen enough – they didn’t want to stash him in their system, they just let him go.

He was briefly on the M’s 40-man, but passed through waivers when the M’s DFA’d him early this year. So why’s he starting here? Well, James Paxton is apparently still having some visa snafus, which seems odd, but whatever. There’s also the fact that they’re playing Texas, and don’t want the Rangers overly familiar with their actual starting rotation. Thus, Yusei Kikuchi was sent to start a B game where they still do rollover innings and teams can choose how many times they bat. Jarred Kelenic and Julio Rodriguez played in that one, too, which Cleveland “won” 3-2. Kikuchi struck out 7 in 4 2/3 IP, with 1 R allowed on 4 hits and a walk.

In this game, the M’s face Wes Benjamin, a lefty who pitched his first 20+ big league innings in last year’s crazy sprint-season. He throws about 91, same as Dugger. But while Dugger’s four-seamer sinks kind of like 2019 Justus Sheffield’s, Benjamin gets plenty of ride and carry on his. Also like Dugger, Benjamin throws a change, a slider, and a curve. There’s the makings of a decent change in Benjamin’s repertoire, but he hardly ever throws it.

1: Haniger, RF
2: France, DH
3: Seager, 3B
4: Lewis, CF
5: Torrens, C
6: Moore, 2B
7: Trammell, LF
8: White, 1B
9: Crawford, SS
SP: Dugger


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