ST. PETERSBURG -- When Marco Gonzales started the season, there was concern that the 26-year-old southpaw couldn't work deep enough into games. But as Gonzales has turned into one of Seattle's success stories, the question now is whether the club might need to begin limiting his innings workload over the
ST. PETERSBURG -- When Marco Gonzales started the season, there was concern that the 26-year-old southpaw couldn't work deep enough into games. But as Gonzales has turned into one of Seattle's success stories, the question now is whether the club might need to begin limiting his innings workload over the long haul.
Gonzales has quickly developed into one of the American League's more consistent performers at 7-3 with a 3.28 ERA in 13 starts. And with 74 innings under his belt, he is on pace to throw about 187 innings for the season if he continues starting every fifth game.
After not pitching at all in 2016 following Tommy John surgery, Gonzales totaled 126 1/3 innings last season between Triple-A and the Majors. He threw just 83 2/3 innings in 2015 while first dealing with elbow issues, and his career high is 156 2/3 innings in 2014 while in the Cardinals' organization, when only 34 2/3 of those games occurred at the Major League level.
Manager Scott Servais said prior to Sunday's 5-4 win over the Rays at Tropicana Field that Gonzales' workload isn't a concern right now. But given the Mariners' push for a playoff berth -- and any added innings that would be necessary in the postseason -- it will be interesting to see how they handle that issue later in the year.
"I think Marco has picked up a lot from [James Paxton], in some of the things Pax does in his between starts for preparation," Servais said. "Those guys seem to have found a very good routine to stick with.
"With Marco, his stuff is carrying deep into games. He was throwing 91 mph in the eighth inning the other night and it still looked as sharp as it did early in the game. For me, that's a testament to what they're doing between starts, and how they're feeling."
But the Mariners will keep an eye on Gonzales and the rest of their staff.
"I'm not concerned right now," Servais said. "It goes from, 'You never let him go deep into games' to, 'Now you're letting him go too deep into games.' We're just trying to win games. That's where the eyeball test comes in. What does it look like?
"There may be some starts down the road where Marco hits a little bump and you recognize it and get him out of the game. We did it with Paxton a couple outings ago. We got him out after five when he didn't really have it that night. But he's been really good, really consistent for us."
Servais said the club would consider bringing someone like Christian Bergman or Ariel Miranda up from Triple-A Tacoma for a spot start during a long run of consecutive games if they needed to go with an extra starter.
And there is another ready arm available in long reliever Roenis Elias, who gave up just two hits and a run over four innings in Saturday's 7-3 loss to the Rays, and has impressed in his first two outings.
"Obviously, he was starting at Triple-A, and if we had a hiccup in the rotation or whatever, I don't have any reservations about firing him in there," Servais said. "That's one of the reasons we acquired him, was for starting depth. I was really impressed with the way he threw the ball yesterday. He has good stuff. I know he's been here and had a good season a few years ago when they gave him the ball every fifth day. I like the way he competed."
• Reliever Dan Altavilla was checked out by the Mariners' team doctor in Seattle on Saturday and has a Grade 1 strain of the flexor mass in his right forearm. Servais said it's a mild strain, but "he's going to be down for a little while."
The right-hander was placed on the 10-day disabled list on Friday and isn't eligible to return until after the upcoming homestand at the earliest.
• Hisashi Iwakuma threw live batting practice on Friday at the club's complex in Peoria, Ariz., and will throw a bullpen session again in the next day or two as he continues working to return from September shoulder surgery.
• Nick Vincent was scheduled to throw an inning for Class A Advanced Modesto on Sunday, and he could rejoin the club in the next few days. He's been on the DL with a strained right groin since May 27.
Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.