Performance of rotation excites Servais

Mariners manager likes what he's been seeing, even with Felix on the DL

Performance of rotation excites Servais

SEATTLE -- Even without a timetable for the return of ace Felix Hernandez, Mariners manager Scott Servais likes the direction his rotation is headed.

"I think we're on the brink of putting together a really good streak here," Servais said. "Streaks are driven by starting pitching. When you talk about winning 8 out of 10, or 9 out of 11, I really feel we're about to go off on one of those runs. We've got our full squad back position player-wise, we're pretty healthy there, but out starting pitching is starting to get back on track. That excites me as much as anything."

Over the last seven games entering Sunday, Mariners starters had a 1.18 ERA, allowing six earned runs in 45 2/3 innings.

Taijuan Walker, who was 0-6 with a 5.77 ERA in a seven-start span from May 1 to June 3, allowed just three hits in eight scoreless innings in his last start, a 5-0 victory over the Indians on Wednesday.

James Paxton, called up from Triple-A Tacoma to take Hernandez's spot, has turned in two solid outings after a rocky first start. Paxton, 0-2 with a 2.25 ERA, pitched 6 1/3 scoreless innings during Saturday's Mariners loss. Only four of the 11 runs he has allowed are earned.

Left-hander Wade Miley was 6-0 in his last nine starts, despite a 4.50 ERA, heading into Sunday's outing against Texas. After going 0-3 in April, Hisashi Iwakuma has rebounded to even his record at 5-5. Nathan Karns, 5-2 overall, was 3-0 in May, but he has struggled in his last two starts, lasting fewer than five innings each time.

"James Paxton, Taijuan Walker are really starting to get it going again," Servais said. "I think Paxton's been outstanding. He's really pumped some life into our starting pitching."

Walker's eight shutout innings

Paxton has shown flashes before, going 3-0 with a 1.50 ERA as a September callup in 2013; he then went 6-4 with a 3.04 ERA in 13 starts during an injury-plagued 2014. He was 3-4 with a 3.90 ERA in 13 starts last year and then opened this season at Tacoma.

Servais, in his first year as manager, likes what he's seen recently of Paxton.

"I can't speak to what he's done in the past here. I wasn't here," Servais said. "I can only see what I've seen the last two outings, which is different than anything else I've seen this year, which is Spring Training and that first one in San Diego. He's been very aggressive, he's pitching with a little bit of an edge, a little bit more fire and emotion outwardly."

The news has not been so positive on Hernandez (4-4, 2.86 ERA), on the DL with a strained right calf. He will stay behind when the Mariners head out for a 10-game road trip.

"Felix is not going to make the trip. The medical staff thought it would be better for him to stay back and lock in on his treatment here," Servais said. "It's hard when you're traveling to get treatment and a time set aside for one guy. We have a designated trainer for the guys that stay back, so he'll stay back and keep building up from there.

Servais said there still is no timetable for Hernandez, who went on the DL retroactive to May 28.

"Don't have it yet," Servais said. "We'll just have to wait and see until he can start running and doing some other stuff on that leg."

Jim Hoehn is a contributor to based in Seattle. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.