The Jeremy Bonderman experiment came to an end Monday when the Mariners designated the Kennewick, WA., native for assignment two days after watching the Cincinnati Reds rock him for six earned runs in a 13-4 Seattle loss at Great American Ballpark. The Mariners recalled LHP Lucas Luetge from AAA Tacoma to take Bonderman’s place on the active roster.
Luetge, 26, was available Monday night for the start of a four-game series against the Boston Red Sox at Safeco Field. The Mariners have yet to announce who will replace Bonderman in the rotation. He had been scheduled to pitch Thursday in the series finale.
Speculation around the club suggests that veteran Erasmo Ramirez, 23, will be called up from Tacoma. He was penciled in as the No. 5 starter in spring training before he was injured. His rehab stint in Tacoma hasn’t been dazzling (5.06 ERA), but with another prominent youngster, Danny Hultzen, also 23, nursing a sore shoulder, the only other choice would be Taijuan Walker, 20, who has impressed in three Tacoma starts. But that is the problem — three starts in AAA. In 16 innings over the starts, he has given up one run, five walks and had 16 strikeouts.
The Mariners could avoid a premature call-up by returning Blake Beavan, who has had several solid innings out of the bullpen, to the starting rotation. But manager Eric Wedge said before the game that the new starter would come from AAA.
Luetge is embarking on his third stint with Seattle this season (April 1-9, May 1-25). In 11 appearances, he is 0-1 with a 7.15 ERA (9 ER, 11.1 IP) and has held opponents scoreless in in seven of 11 appearances. The Mariners used him for a career-high 3.0 innings on two occasions: April 9 (3.0 IP, 5 H, 2 ER) and May 21 (3.0 IP, 4 H, 2 ER).
In 22 games of middle relief with the Rainiers, Luetge struck out 45 in 31.0 innings while allowing 16 walks. He did not allow a run over his last five outings (7.1 IP, 10 strikeouts).
Bonderman, 30, was 1-3 with a 4.93 ERA in seven starts since the Mariners selected from Tacoma June 2. From June 7-23 (four starts) he went 1-0, 1.42 (25.1 IP, 4 ER), but had a major sag after that, going 0-2, 10.80 (8.1 IP, 12 R, 10 ER) in two starts.
Bonderman, who signed with Seattle as a minor league free agent Jan. 9, had a 2-4 record with a 4.52 ERA (32 ER, 63.2 IP) in 11 starts with AAA Tacoma and was named the PCL’s Pitcher of the Week for April 29-May 5.
When Bonderman, who won 67 games for Detroit between 2003-10, made his first start with the Mariners, he had not pitched in the majors in 975 days (Oct. 1, 2010) due to arm surgery and a variety of injuries. Raked for seven earned runs at Minnesota, Bonderman won three of his next four, lowering his ERA from 13.50 to 3.30.
But he allowed 10 earned runs on 12 hits over his next two, including a five-walk effort against the Reds Saturday.
Seattle has 10 days to trade, release or outright the contract of Bonderman to the minors.