Felix, Paxton to return as Mariners set rotation

Felix, Paxton to return as Mariners set rotation

SEATTLE -- The Mariners' starting rotation for one of the most important stretches of their season is set.

Felix Hernandez and James Paxton will return from the disabled list for the upcoming week. Hernandez will start Thursday at the Rangers and Paxton will follow on Friday to open up a three-game series with the Astros.

Ariel Miranda, Marco Gonzales and Mike Leake will start the first three games of a four-game set with the Rangers in that order.

"You feel good about it," Mariners manager Scott Servais said of having his rotation set.

Paxton has been on the 10-day disabled list since Aug. 11 with a strained left pectoral muscle and Hernandez has been on the disabled list since Aug. 5 with right shoulder bursitis.

Paxton on heading to the DL

Servais said Hernandez and Paxton will only be able to throw about 50 pitches, meaning lefty Andrew Albers and right-handers Andrew Moore and Yovani Gallardo will still be used significantly in a piggyback roles.

"I wish I had 75 or 80 pitches to work with, but we'll get the ballgame going and get [Hernandez and Paxton] out there, hopefully they feel good and healthy and build upon that one for the next one," Servais said. "We're looking at those guys making four starts for us, and hope that all four are very important."

Servais said Erasmo Ramirez will likely start on Saturday against Houston, although that's unofficial. Ramirez was terrific in Sunday's 5-3 loss to the Angels, allowing two earned runs in 6 2/3 innings, striking out seven.

• Erasmo keeps rotation rolling

The decision to start the left-handed Gonzales over Moore on Tuesday was dependent on matchups, according to Servais. The Rangers have several dangerous lefty hitters -- most notably Joey Gallo, Rougned Odor, Shin-Soo Choo and Nomar Mazara -- which present a better opportunity for Gonzales.

Josh Horton is a reporter for MLB.com based in Seattle. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.