Young to stay in rotation; Walker in long relief

Veteran righty slated to face A's on Sunday as McClendon maps out stretch run

Young to stay in rotation; Walker in long relief

SEATTLE -- After some deliberation, Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon confirmed Monday that veteran right-hander Chris Young will start Sunday's series finale against the A's at Safeco Field.

Young battled through some fatigue and a couple of tough starts in late July, but the Mariners believe he's back on track after getting some extra rest between starts and then throwing five innings with four hits and two unearned runs in a 4-2 victory over the Rangers on Saturday.

The 6-foot-10 hurler will be given three extra days of rest before that Sunday start as well, but McClendon plans to stay in a normal five-day rotation with his group the rest of the way as the club plays out its final 20 games and attempts to land a postseason berth for the first time since 2001.

The decision to keep Young in the rotation means rookie Taijuan Walker remains in the bullpen, available in long relief or if needed for a spot start down the line. McClendon said the choice to stick with Young was simple, given he's gone 12-7 with a 3.35 ERA in 28 games and been an integral part of the team's success.

"He threw five solid innings with no earned runs. He's healthy," McClendon said. "I said before, the only criteria was whether or not he was healthy.

"He's feeling good, now we'll back him off a little to give him a little extra rest, but he's healthy and ready to go. He gave us a chance to win a ballgame, and that's how I judge things."

The three-game set with the A's looms large as Seattle is chasing Oakland for the top American League Wild Card berth and the chance to host the AL Wild Card Game, as well as trying to hold off the Tigers for the second Wild Card spot at the same time.

James Paxton will face the A's Jason Hammel on Friday, followed by Felix Hernandez vs. Sonny Gray on Saturday and Young vs. Jon Lester on Sunday.

The Mariners will then throw Hisashi Iwakuma, Roenis Elias, Paxton and Hernandez in a four-game series in Anaheim as they open a tough 11-game road trip. Elias will get an extra two days' rest in that series, with Iwakuma staying on his regular turn as an offshoot of Thursday's off-day. From there, those five will pitch in order the rest of the way, if all goes as planned.

And, yes, that plan would have Hernandez lined up to pitch the final regular-season game against the Angels on Sept. 28 -- or available to be held back for the Wild Card Game two days later, if he's not needed in the finale.

"It is what it is," McClendon said. "We don't have any more days off after the 11th. I've got my poker hand and I'm playing it."

Greg Johns is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.