Seattle Mariners left-hander Justus Sheffield has averaged just over five innings a start this season.
When he made his only start against San Diego last season, he held the Padres to a run on six hits in six innings and earned the win.
The ability of Sheffield to go moderately deep into games could be crucial for the visiting Mariners in the second game of a three-game series against the San Diego on Saturday night.
On Friday night, Seattle starting pitcher Chris Flexen lasted only 1 2/3 innings, hours after the Mariners lost four relievers — Robert Dugger, Anthony Misiewicz, Drew Steckenrider and Will Vest — to the 10-day injured list due to Major League Baseball’s COVID-19 protocol.
Clearly, the Mariners are in a bind.
The Padres have won seven straight games and 10 of their past 11 to move into a first-place tie with the San Francisco Giants in the National League West. The Mariners have lost four straight and are 3-9 over their past 12 games.
And now Seattle is down half of its bullpen coming off Friday night’s 16-1 loss to the Padres.
“We’re not out of the woods yet,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said Friday as his team awaited the outcome of more COVID-19 tests and contract tracing. “I understand that getting vaccinated is a personal choice, but it does affect a lot of other people. There are different things you have to look at here.
“A few of our players have just bought themselves a ticket to spend the next 10 days at the Omni Hotel in San Diego as they’ll be quarantined here. They will not travel with us going forward until that seven to 10-day period expires.”
Sheffield (3-3, 4.62 ERA) will be matched against 21-year-old left-hander Ryan Weathers (2-1, 1.37), who could be piggy-backed by right-hander Dinelson Lamet (1-0, 2.25 ERA).
But the bigger question is what can the Mariners do to stop a Padres offense that had 17 hits Friday night while giving Manny Machado a night off? And Wil Myers could return from the COVID protocol Saturday.
“One through eight did a great job tonight,” Padres manager Jayce Tingler said. “I love going lefty-righty, lefty-righty, lefty-righty with the lineup. It makes it tough matchups both for starters and later in the game (against relievers). I love (Trent) Grisham at one and Manny at two. At three, Jake (Cronenworth) is one of best contact hitters in the game. Fernando (Tatis Jr.) at four gives you someone who can beat you a lot of ways and (Eric) Hosmer is a great contact guy at No. 5. It will be nice to get Wil back.”
Sheffield has a 1.46 WHIP and a .280 opponents’ batting average this season. In 39 innings over seven starts, he has given up 25 runs (20 earned) on 44 hits and 13 walks with 31 strikeouts.
The Padres are giving Weathers a key role while trying to limit his innings. In nine games (four starts), Weathers has given up four runs on 13 hits and seven walks with 20 strikeouts in 26 1/3 innings for a 0.75 WHIP.
With the Padres having started a stretch of playing 20 straight days, Tingler said that, after Saturday’s game, the Padres could go to a six-man rotation through mid-June with both Weathers and Lamet starting.
–Field Level Media