Should Paxton not be ready, Wednesday's game will fall to an all-bullpen day, a less-than ideal situation against an Astros team battling for a playoff berth. McClendon has tried to play all the playoff contenders tough down the stretch in fairness to the teams they're competing with, but doesn't have many options in his rotation with Taijuan Walker shut down to limit his workload, Paxton dealing with his finger and Mike Montgomery and Edgar Olmos both sent home in September.
"I will put my best guys out in the field, but we are where we are and the injuries are such that there's not a lot we can do," McClendon said. "We'll do the best we can."
The Mariners will be in a little better shape to face the A's on the final weekend after Thursday's off-day. But McClendon will wait until Felix Hernandez's next throwing session on Monday before deciding if his ace will pitch on Friday or Saturday.
The current order would have Hernandez lined up to pitch Friday on Fan Appreciation Day, but McClendon could opt to flip-flop him with Hisashi Iwakuma in order to gain an extra day of rest, given Hernandez had some elbow tightness in his previous start before throwing six innings without issue in Saturday's 3-2 loss to the Angels.
"He doesn't throw until tomorrow, so we'll see," McClendon said prior to Sunday's series finale with the Angels.
McClendon said Elias would likely start the season finale next Sunday afternoon against the A's.
• Outfielder Stefen Romero was not with the Mariners for the Angels series after flying home to Seattle to have tests on his shoulder after running into the wall in Kansas City. Romero has hit .190 with one home run in 21 at-bats in 13 games as a September callup.
Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB, read his Mariners Musings blog, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.