So many choices…
The Seattle Mariners went out and stockpiled a lot of pitchers this offseason. That is on top of the slew of young talent they already have in the minors and in their current starting rotation.
We saw Michael Pineda get traded away, but we also saw a big list of new names come to town to compete for spots in the Mariners starting rotation. Veterans like Kevin Millwood and Oliver Perez were signed to minor league deals and offered spring training invites.
With the insane depth at the pitching position, the Mariners have quite a quandary on their hands.
They run a 5 man rotation and have twice that many to choose from this season.
Who do they choose?
Here is my prediction for this year’s starting 5 for the Mariners.
1. Felix Hernandez – RHP
King Felix Hernandez is a dominant force on the mound. His fastball is scary and he doesn’t even use it to its full potential. Instead, he uses his two-seam fastball which has so much movement, it baffles hitters. He also has a wicked curve ball and slider that he throws in there as well.
He is still only 26 years old and is getting better seemingly each season.
Last year, he was 14-14 with a 3.47 ERA and recorded 222 strikeouts vs 67 walks.
2. Jason Vargas – LHP
Jason Vargas is not an overpowering pitcher, although he shows flashes of it at times. He likes to use finesse and relies heavily on his change-up.
He mixes his pitches well and keeps a good balance that usually leaves the hitters guessing.
Vargas is 29 years old and is hardly a veteran.
He still has a long way to go before he hits his prime which makes him even more lethal in this talented Mariners rotation.
Last year, he was 10-13 with a 4.25 ERA and recorded 131 strikeouts vs 59 walks.
3. Hisashi Iwakuma – RHP
Hisashi Iwakuma came to the Mariners this offseason via free agency from the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, where he played with Yu Darvish.
Last season, the Oakland A’s actually won the bidding to try and reach an agreement with Iwakuma, but could not reach one in time.
Iwakuma had a pretty dominant fastball before a shoulder injury.
He still uses it well, but it has only topped out at 94 MPH since the injury.
He has a splitter, a slider and a two-seam fastball as well. He is mainly a ground ball pitcher who relies on his splitter to get him out of jams.
He tends to jam his opponents and has great control.
He is going to be 31 years old this season.
Last season for the Eagles, Iwakuma went 6-7 with a 2.42 ERA and 90 strikeouts vs 19 walks.
4. Blake Beavan – RHP
Blake Beavan came over from Texas in the deal for Cliff Lee. He made his debut for the Mariners on July 3rd last season, beating the San Diego Padres. Beavan has a two-seam and four-seam fastball, a slider and a pretty good change up.
Beavan is 23 years old and is just scratching his potential. With a rotation of good pitchers around him Beavan is just a few runs in support away from becoming a really good pitcher.
Last season he was 5-6 with a 4.27 ERA and 42 strikeouts vs 15 walks.
5. Kevin Millwood – RHP
Kevin Millwood is a veteran that I have followed since his inception to the league with the Atlanta Braves in 1997.
During his time in Atlanta, he learned from and was molded by greats like Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz. He has bounced around recently, but the Mariners could use his veteran presence in this rotation and in the Mariners clubhouse.
Millwood’s once nasty fastball still show up once in a while, but the 37 year old relies more on his off-speed stuff to get him by.
He still throws a good slider, curve and change-up.
Last season, for the Rockies, Millwood was 4-3 with a 3.98 ERA and 36 strikeouts vs 8 walks.
I seriously think that by season’s end, if not by mid-season, Danny Hultzen will be called upon to jump into the starting rotation. If this is the case, he will take over that 5th spot I have filled by Millwood.
Additionally, if Beavan can’t seem to hold it together or just needs a little more practice before facing the big league hitters, I could easily see Hector Noesi taking his #4 spot in the rotation.
These are big “ifs” depending on injury, run support and overall record.