What can the Mariners do with back-end of rotation?


The Seattle Mariners have officially started to turn things around after a rather lackluster start to their 2013 MLB campaign. Once struggling to get anything going, the Mariners are now four games under .500 (15-19) and winners of 6 of their last 10 games.

Players like Dustin Ackley and Jason Bay, who didn’t have the best starts to the season, have started to turn the corner and offensively produce for Seattle.

But as good as things have been going for the Mariners as of late, there is still a glaring error on the team that may prevent them from making a push and potentially surpassing the .500 mark in the coming weeks: the back-end of their five-man rotation.

On Fire!

Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma have essentially been lights out. Hernandez currently boasts a record 4-2 (before today’s game at Pittsburgh) with an ERA of 1.60 while Iwakuma has been no less stellar, compiling a 3-1 record with a 1.61 ERA.

If these two phenomenal pitchers keep up their pace, they could very well be near guaranteed wins for Seattle every time they take the hill. That being said, as stellar as these two are, the three other pitchers that currently round out the Mariners’ starting rotation have been far too inconsistent to really merit Seattle as a potential contender in the AL West.

The Current Situation

Aaron Harang, Joe Saunders, and Brandon Maurer should frustrate every Mariners fan.

Aaron Harang (Joe Nicholson/USA Today Sports)

Aaron Harang (Joe Nicholson/USA Today Sports)

While they can undoubtedly turn out great performances and accumulate wins over the season, they have been way too inconsistent for any Seattle fan to really feel hopeful when they watch a game with one of these guys on the hill.

Especially away from Safeco Field, these pitchers just don’t seem to have the stuff to really contend with the rest of the MLB. At home Saunders is 2-0 with a 0.81 ERA in three games. He has a better ERA than Hernandez at Safeco and has allowed just three runs at home, one more than the stellar Iwakuma.

Sleepless Away From Seattle

On the road, however, he is 0-4 with a 12.54 ERA in four games. He has given up 26 runs and five home runs in road contests while compiling the team’s worst road ERA.

As inconsistent as Saunders has been on the road, Harang has almost been just as bad.

Though he pitched more than admirably yesterday–an indication he may be turning things around after a rough start to the season–his awful April is an indication that he may not be a solid option for Seattle throughout the course of the season.

In that month he went 0-3 with an 11.37 ERA, surrendering 16 runs and six home runs in 12 2/3 innings. Ew.

But may has admittedly been good to the veteran pitcher, as he is 1-1 with a 3.00 ERA in his last two starts. Still, he’s not exactly a reliable pitcher that the Mariners should count on to produce the entire year.

Maurer is a little trickier to dissect. He’s had three decent outings this year (two at home, one on the road) but all his other appearances have essentially been disasters.

After putting together that great three game stretch that saw him surrender just four earned runs in 25 innings of work, Maurer had a tough go of it in Baltimore, pitching four innings of six hit, four run, and two walk baseball.

As you can see, these three guys aren’t exactly the pitchers you want composing the 3-4-5 in Seattle’s rotation.

The young arms still have some work to do  (Photo: AP).

The young arms still have some work to do (Photo: AP).

What to Do

Unfortunately, right now it looks like we have to stick with these three. The big three (James Paxton, Taijuan Walker, and Danny Hultzen) still have some work to do at the lower levels.

Though they have flashed signs that they could very well do OK in the bigs, they aren’t there yet.

I’m a firm believer that Maurer will turn it around. He’s a very young pitcher who’s got great stuff and has shown he can be effective. It will take some time for him to really hit his groove, but the Mariners should let him work through these first few months and become the dominant pitcher he can be.

Saunders and Harang, on the other hand? I really don’t think these guys should be pitching anywhere besides Safeco Field.

Ideally I want to see Paxton, Walker, or Hultzen come up and fill-in for one of these guys in June. Realistically, however, I believe the Mariners will look to other, already proven options that are on the market, unless both of these veteran pitchers can turn things around and find some semblance of consistency on the road.

But even if I do, I really don’t see myself wanting these guys to be on Seattle’s pitching staff. Whether it’s a lack of enthusiasm or something else, they really just seem to be those veteran pitchers just earning a paycheck instead of really playing for the team.

Keep Maurer, find a way to expend these other two.


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About Chris Anderson

NWSB Editor. Chris hails from Eugene, Oregon; home of the Fighting Ducks. If he is not viewing, writing about, or attending sporting events, Chris is running on the trails Eugene offers or out-and-about. Aspirations to exceed expectations. Connect w/ Chris today!
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