As the Seattle Mariners get closer to the start of the regular season, manager Eric Wedge and the rest of his coaching staff have a lot of decisions to be made in regards to the finalization of the 25-man roster.
Of the many difficult decisions, the 5-man rotation was made public around 3:30pm Seattle time. Wedge announced his rotation, which will open up in Japan and ultimately start the 2012 regular season in Oakland.
There was a stiff competition throughout spring for rotation spots 3 thru 5 with Charlie Furbush, and Erasmo Ramirez both stating their case for entry in the rotation. Ultimately this decision led to a few surprises, most notably, Japanese import Hisashi Iwakuma, who was relegated to the bullpen.
Did Eric Wedge make the right call? I believe so.
There is a good balance of veteran experience with a tremendous amount of upside in the young arms of Beavan and Noesi.
Not quite sold on Wedge’s decision? That’s quite alright. You’re not alone.
But allow me the opportunity to give you 5 good reasons why I think there is a lot of consistency in this rotation.
Most industry minds thought Kevin Millwood‘s career was over. After spending three quarters of the 2011 season in Boston and New York’s minor league systems (7-2, 4.09 ERA, 89.2 IP in 16 starts), Milwood finished out the 2011 season in the Colorado Rockies rotation.
Posting numbers (4-3, 3.98 ERA, 54.1 IP in 9 starts) that would indicate there still is something left in his right arm.
Enter the Seattle Mariners. Who inked Millwood to a one-year minor league deal with a shot at making the 25-man roster in spring training. Everyone knows Wedge is partial to Millwood from their days in Cleveland, but this isn’t just your ordinary tip of the cap to the veteran.
In 3 spring starts, Millwood was 2-1 with a 3.21 ERA, 12 K’s, .235 BAA in 14 IP.
He deserved the right to be included, and even if this is just a situation of him holding the fort down until Danny Hultzen arrives sometime during the season, at least Millwood can give the club much needed innings.
The knock on Hector Noesi in New York’s minor league system was he lacked a true out pitch that resulted in abnormally high fly-ball ratios. Meaning specifically to the Yankee organization, he was never considered anything more the a back-end-of-the-rotation guy.
Jack Zduriencik acquired Noesi specifically for his pin-point accuracy, command of the strike zone, and control, which were considered his calling cards.
As expected, Noesi won a spot in Seattle’s rotation even with a small spring sample size (5.0 IP in 2 starts officially, but I’m assuming Noesi had a lot work work in B-games and split squads).
Nonetheless, 2012 should be a good season for Noesi just on his upside alone. He will struggle at times, as most youngsters do, but he will give Mariners fans more of the good than bad.
Blake Beavan‘s 2011 season went as expected for someone getting his first cup of coffee in the big leagues. He wasn’t exactly terrible and he wasn’t all that dominating, either.
We are talking about a 6’7, 240 lbs pitcher. Much like Doug Fister before him, incredibly tall pitchers rely heavily on location setting the tone for the success of every start.
Fister was able to find that happy medium that allowed himself to never be too fine or too erratic. That’s what Beavan will need to find in 2012. Judging by his spring numbers (1-1, 2.35 ERA, 8 K’s/2 BB’s, .214 BAA, 15.1 IP in 4 starts), he may have found that.
Much like Noesi, Beavan’s upside is clearly visible.
Unlike Noesi, the book is still out on whether Beavan can be consistent enough.
Jason Vargas‘ second half issues are well documented. Whether it’s a command issue or going through the league for the second time, it’s unexplainable why his switch just seems to turn off after the All-Star break.
That’s my only issue with Vargas.
He possesses all the talent in his arm to make that next step in his progression of being a controlled lefty, but consistency has eluded him in the second half of the last two seasons. Vargas needs to trust his stuff completely.
When he’s on, he’s one of the better left-handers in the American League. It’s just when he’s off, there really isn’t a solid explanation as to why.
Do we really need to get into what Felix Hernandez brings or even means to the success of the Mariner rotation? Yes? If there is anything that Hernandez needs more, It’s run support.
Outside of his wins and losses, his secondary numbers have been CY Young brilliant. Oh yeah..He won that award in 2010.
This season Hernandez needs at least 15 starts where he can operate with a comfortable lead. We know what kind of pitcher he is with a 2-1 lead or when the game is tied.
What we don’t know yet is how dominating he can be over the course of a full season operating with a comfortable lead.
It cannot be said enough how important the pitching staff will be to the success of the 2012 Seattle Mariners. The book is still out on how the offense intends to rebound, but we do know how a Jack Zduriencik built pitching staff will operate.
They have the tendency to stay mostly healthy throughout the duration of the season, and while this rotation doesn’t have the sex appeal of rotations of the past, it’s still solid.
Is this rotation set up to win 90 games? Not at all, but then again, it’s a rotation with an upside that could allow the Mariners to achieve their season goal of making it to the .500 plateau.
And for this group specifically, that’s the whole point.