Strengths and weaknesses of the 2013 Mariners starting rotation

Fresh faces to keep an eye on

My wife is in the final stages of pregnancy right now and she is sore, tired and uncomfortable. At the same time there is an air of excitement at the new life that is coming into the world. I doubt that she will ever read this so I think it is safe to say that I have similar feelings in thinking about the upcoming Seattle Mariners season.

I’m tired of this process, uncomfortable with where things are at, but excited for the potential.

With the Mariners out of Arizona it is time to see what this baby can do.  I better stop.

The Mariners rotation is a in a bit of flux.  Consider the fact that this time last year the Mariners rotation looked like this.

Felix Hernandez (The highest paid pitcher in baseball) who went 13-9 with a 3.06 ERA

Jason Vargas (Now with the Angels) went 14-11, 3.85 ERA

Hector Noesi (Now with Tacoma) had a banner year of 2-12, and 5.82 ERA yet the Mariners had him stick around for 22 games through out last season.

Joe Saunders, Seattle Mariners

Joe Saunders is one of the fresh faces this year, but with a serious veteran presence.

Blake Beavan  was 11-11 with a 4.43 ERA who was an obvious choice for this years rotation due to those stellar numbers.  Am I right?

Kevin Millwood (Now retired and many peasants rejoiced) 6-12 and a 4.25 ERA

Many analysts are saying the Mariners are going to win more games this year.  I heard one guy on sports radio give them up to 95 wins.  While I am optimistic by nature – that seems like pure hokum.

Can the current rotation muster up 95 wins?

Here is my analysis of the 2013 rotation

Felix Hernandez

Felix is good.  Apparently good enough to get a contract that values him higher than some small countries. His average number of wins from 2005-2012 is 14.  With a better offense behind him he could win more of those close games.

I will give him a projected 17 wins which is two less than his career high 19 in 2009.

Hisashi Iwakuma

Iwakuma was sort of on the 25 man roster last April.  Although it was well into the season before he even made an appearance. Yet this season he is considered to be the #2 starter on the team.

This comes from his 11 years of experience of pitching in Japan in which his average season win total was about 10 and an average 3.36 ERA.

Last year for the M’s he had 16 starts and went 9-5.  If his control is the same as it was last season he could have a good year with 14 wins. (His record season win total in Japan was 21). I actually think this is a bit low, but Iwakuma is still a bit of a wildcard to me, better to err on the side of realism.

Joe Saunders

Saunders is a former All Star that the Mariners are taking on to bring a veteran presence into the rotation this year.  He is this year’s Kevin Millwood with a bot more of an upswing.  Although coming out of spring he has an 11.57 ERA in 11 innings of work.  In 8 years of MLB experience, Saunders has accumulated an average of 14 wins per season and a career 4.15 ERA.

Brandon Maurer, Seattle Mariners

Brandon Maurer earned his spot, skipping AAA altogether to make the starting rotation.

It would be surprising to see his ERA any less than that this season meaning the M’s will have to score at least 5 runs per game to offset that.  Much has been said of how much better he will be in Safeco field.

Since 2009, Saunders’ ERA in Safeco Field is 1.37, but he has only pitched 3 games in that time he was pitching against the Mariners terrible offense.

If he lasts all season I say at best he would go 50/50 giving him a record of 11-11 or so. Surely he can make double digits right?

Blake Beavan

Beavan has shown us that in 2 years of time in the majors that he is capable of a win/loss percentage of .500.  I think he could be better this year.  Although I think technically he would be the first to go if the M’s want to bring in one of their “big three” this season.  If he starts the year showing that he has moved from throwing the ball to pitching then I will give him 12 wins.

Brandon Maurer

The rook has never pitched above the AA level before so this is a real crap shoot.  This spring he has an unbelievable 0.90 ERA and 1.250 WHIP.  He was the minor league pitcher of the year last year, but the M’s shut him down early wanting to save his arm.

He could light it up early.  However, once the scouts get a good look at him and he realizes how long this season is, is when we will get a more accurate view of his capabilities as a big leaguer.  So I will give him 9 wins.

That means the M’s starters would total 63 wins leaving the 32 games (in the 95 win scenario) with the bull pen.  That would mean the bullpen pitchers would have to average 4.6 wins each. 

That seems a bit high.  I would see it closer to an average of 3 putting the bullpen win total to 21 and a Mariner win total of 84.

I guess I just made my prediction.  I would be happy with an 84 win season.  That is 9 more wins that last year.  Achievable results.

Now excuse me, I have to go sleep on the couch.


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