April 12, 2019
The Mariners made two roster moves today, activating reliever Shawn Armstrong from the injured list and promoting fellow right-hander Ruben "R.J." Alaniz from Triple-A Tacoma. Pitchers Erik Swanson and Matt Festa were sent to Tacoma to make room.
Armstrong was expected to be a significant contributor to the Seattle bullpen from the get-go, but landed on the IL just before the club opened the season in Tokyo with an oblique strain. The career reliever spent the bulk of last season with Tacoma, where he went 2-5 with a brilliant 1.77 ERA, and impressed with the big club after a promotion to Seattle; in 14 relief appearances with the M's he pitched to an ERA of just 1.23 with a WHIP of 0.818.
Alaniz is less well-known, a free-agent signee yet to make his Major League debut. A nine-year minor-league veteran, the 27-year-old spent 2018 in the Tampa Bay Rays' organization, pitching at four steps on the minor-league ladder, most with the Triple-A Durham Bulls. With Durham he went 1-3 with a 3.38 ERA in 422⁄3 innings in between minor calf injuries, topping 95 on the radar gun with regularity. His pro career has shown flashes of brilliance, but also been marred by suspensions for recreational drug abuse.
Swanson, acquired in the James Paxton deal with the Yankees last fall, made his big-league debut in the just-concluded series in Kansas City, tossing two innings and allowing two runs against the Royals. He will return to the starting rotation for Tacoma. Festa began the season with impressive stuff, with scoreless innings in each of his first four appearances, but was rocked for five earned runs in an inning and two-thirds between his last two appearances versus the White Sox and Royals.