ST. PETERSBURG -- Lloyd McClendon didn't specifically confirm that Erasmo Ramirez would start again in Monday's series finale with the Rays, but the Mariners manager said Friday that his club would keep its pitchers in rotation and not move anyone up after Thursday's off-day.
The Mariners could have bumped Hisashi Iwakuma up to Monday and kept him on regular four-day's rest, but McClendon said he'll instead give Iwakuma the extra day of rest and pitch him Tuesday against the Yankees, in what figures to be a much-hyped match against Japanese rookie sensation Masahiro Tanaka.
The other Mariners starters will remain in their rotation slots going forward into the upcoming homestand, which means Chris Young and Roenis Elias will face the Yankees on Wednesday and Thursday, with Felix Hernandez getting Friday's start against the Rangers.
McClendon was a little evasive on the specifics of Ramirez starting as scheduled on Monday, however, saying only that "we will stay in rotation." Ramirez lasted just three innings in Atlanta on Tuesday after being called up to take Brandon Maurer's spot, and Ramirez is 1-4 with a 6.82 ERA in seven starts on the season.
There isn't an obvious replacement for Ramirez, however. Taijuan Walker will make his third rehab start for Triple-A Tacoma on Monday and could still need at least one more outing after that, having thrown just two innings and 56 pitches in his last opportunity.
James Paxton has been cleared to start playing catch again on Monday, but remains at least several weeks away in a best-case scenario, after his rehab program was halted by a sore shoulder following one start in Tacoma.
One possible solution would be promoting veteran Matt Palmer from Tacoma, as he's been pitching fairly well after a late start to the season due to injuries. Palmer, 35, last appeared in the Majors for the Padres when he pitched three games in relief in 2012. He was 13-5 with a 4.22 ERA in 57 outings -- including 17 starts -- for the Angels from 2009-11 and also started three games for the Giants in '08.
The 6-foot-2, 235-pound righty has spent most of his career in the Minors (65-69, 4.05 ERA in 296 games over 13 seasons). Palmer was 6-8 with a 3.84 ERA in 25 games last year for the Dodgers' Triple-A Albuquerque club and is 1-2 with a 2.14 ERA in five starts for Tacoma this season after signing a Minor League contract last winter.
Despite allowing just two hits and one run, Palmer was pulled after three innings and 48 pitches in his last start for Tacoma on Thursday in what could have been a prelude to getting him ready to come back on just three-day's rest on Monday, if needed. That would allow Seattle's other starters to stay in rotation, as McClendon indicated, though Palmer would need to be added to the 40-man roster.
Or the Mariners could stick with Ramirez, who is with the team in St. Petersburg and is 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA in three career outings against the Rays.