The Mariners' rotation has been in an almost constant state of tumult since the beginning of Spring Training.
With injuries sidelining 2013 American League Cy Young Award contender Hisashi Iwakuma (strained finger tendon), top prospect Taijuan Walker (shoulder impingement) and hard-throwing lefty James Paxton (strained lat muscle), Seattle had to scour the free-agent market and its Minor League system to simply field five healthy starting pitchers during the first half of April.
Rookie left-hander Roenis Elias, a 25-year-old Cuban who pitched for Double-A Jackson last season, has been a steady presence since a breakout Cactus League earned him a spot in Seattle's depleted rotation. He'll look to continue his early-season success and help the 7-9 Mariners snap a four-game losing streak Saturday night in Miami after Giancarlo Stanton bashed a walk-off grand slam in the ninth to give the Marlins an 8-4 win in Friday's series opener.
Elias notched his first career win Monday in Arlington, going 6 2/3 innings while giving up five hits, one run and striking out five, as the Mariners topped the Rangers, 7-1. Elias scrambled out of first-inning trouble, then maneuvered his way through a formidable lineup in hitter-friendly Globe Life Park. He walked just two and tossed a career-high 104 pitches.
In three starts, Elias (1-1) has a 2.16 ERA and a 1.02 WHIP over 16 2/3 innings. He's been especially tough on left-handed hitters, holding them to a .133 batting average.
"I came here to make it to the big leagues and to play in the big leagues," Elias told reporters through a translator on Monday. "I was throwing my pitches like I wanted."
The latter is something Marlins starter Henderson Alvarez, 24, has struggled doing during his first three starts.
In his most recent outing, a no-decision against the Phillies, Alvarez worked a season-high six innings but gave up three runs on 12 hits and three walks. In 2014, he's 0-2 with a 4.30 ERA over 14 2/3 innings. All of his starts have resulted in Miami losses, although Marlins manager Mike Redmond said before Friday's win that Alvarez didn't receive much help in Philadelphia.
"We've got to put together a full game," Redmond said before Miami improved to 7-10. "We've got to play good defense and limit our mistakes. That's something we've had a tough time doing this year. We've made some mistakes that have cost us. It costs our pitchers pitches. We've got to do a better job of finishing games."
Marlins: Redmond with Washington roots
Redmond, who makes his offseason home in Spokane, Wash., attended Gonzaga Prep High School before going on to play baseball at Gonzaga University. He remembers going to see the Mariners play in the Kingdome before it was demolished in March 2000.
"We used to go to helmet day and bat day, batting glove day," Redmond said. "I don't remember ever missing Opening Day. I remember even in college going to watch the Mariners play. I spent a lot of time in the Kingdome. ... I went to Opening Day for 15 years, probably."
Redmond, 42, was born in Seattle and grew up in the nearby suburb of Kirkland before his family moved to Spokane. On Friday, he said his favorite Mariners were Alvin Davis, Richie Zisk, Ruppert Jones, Harold Reynolds and Spike Owen.
While attending Gonzaga in the early 90s, Redmond got to play a tournament in the Kingdome. He was thrilled.
"That was all I knew," Redmond said. "To me, the Kingdome was the big leagues. I thought it was the greatest place ever."
Mariners: McClendon concerned about bullpen
During the past week, the Mariners' makeshift rotation hasn't done much to protect the bullpen. In Tuesday's 5-0 loss to the Rangers, right-hander Blake Beavan lasted just four innings before he had to leave the game with shoulder tendinitis. The Mariners officially placed him on the 15-day disabled list on Wednesday.
In Thursday's 8-6 loss to the Rangers, Mariners starter Erasmo Ramirez went just two-plus innings and allowed six hits and five runs, raising his ERA to 7.50. Chris Young lasted only three innings on Friday before getting lifted for a pinch-hitter.
Another source of anxiety: The Mariners don't have an off-day until next Thursday.
Consider manager Lloyd McClendon worried.
"The bullpen being taxed the way it has been the last few days, I'm concerned," he said. "We need quality innings out of our starters. I've said this before: I think our bullpen is the backbone of our franchise, but if we continue to run them out there at the rate we're running them out there, we're not doing them any good. We've got to get quality innings from starters other than Felix [Hernandez]."
• Alvarez is 2-0 in three career starts against the Mariners.
• By going 3-for-5 on Friday, Marlins outfielder Christian Yelich extended his hitting streak to a career-high 12 games and raised his batting average to .338.
Adam Lewis is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.