The Seattle Mariners starting rotation needs help. They’re hurting. Other than Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma, the rotation has been awful.
Here is a look at what their other starters have done.
Brandon Maurer – 2 wins and 4 losses with a 6.07 ERA in 6 starts.
Joe Saunders – 2 wins and 4 losses with a 6.15 ERA in 7 starts.
*Aaron Harang – 1 win and 4 losses with a 7.30 ERA in 5 starts.
*Harang, who was traded twice within a week, was brought in after a rough start from Blake Beavan … only to have a similar start. Beavan started twice this season. He recorded 1 loss with no wins in the two games and had an ERA of 8.44 before Harang took over his spot in the rotation. Okay, maybe Harang is slightly better.
This year, it’s not the offense that is struggling for the Mariners. Thanks to the acquisitions of Kendrys Morales and Michael Morse this offseason, their offense has had slight improvements in all batting categories. Their batting average (now 23rd) and on base percentages (now 22nd) are both up – they were ranked 30th in 2012 in both categories. They have also improved in runs scored (27th to 26th) and home runs (19th to 14th).
The batting isn’t a huge difference, but it’s enough to warrant a few more wins this season.
However, the Mariners’ pitching has been an ongoing issue early on. Last year, they finished 9th in team ERA – they are currently rank 20th.
You have to think there are some changes to be made in this starting rotation. But who will be in and who will be out? How long will it take?
The Mariners have three top pitching prospects stashed in their farm system with Danny Hultzen, James Paxton, and Taijuan Walker. None of whom should be ready for a call this month.
Hultzen was the closest to getting called up before he landed on the disabled list on April 26 with a left rotator cuff strain. He was then expected to miss two weeks, so he should be back pitching anytime soon. If he works his way back to his normal self without any setbacks he could have a chance to join the rotation by June.
James Paxton doesn’t look to be ready to make a jump to the majors anytime soon. Paxton was solid for Double-A last year, but has since struggled for Triple-A Tacoma this year. In six starts, he has recorded 2 wins and 2 losses with an ERA of 5.19. He needs more work in the minors before he is ready.
Seattle’s top pitching prospect, Taijuan Walker, has been lighting up Double-A this season. He could receive a call to join Triple-A Tacoma with Paxton struggling. Walker has struggled a bit with his control – a 39:20 K:BB (strikeouts to walks) ratio. A number that is much worse than Hultzen’s 25:6 K:BB.
Of the three, I give Hultzen the upper hand to get a call-up this season. With how bad this starting rotation is struggling, I would almost guarantee that he gets the call at some point.
Of the three struggling pitchers I give the rookie Maurer the best chance of falling out of the rotation. He hasn’t done much and they haven’t heavily invested in him – he could easily be moved back town to Triple-A.
Another option for Seattle is Hector Noesi. Noesi had a very rough season last year as a starter, only earning 2 wins over 18 starts. This year, he has pitched much better. He went unscathed in 2 Double-A starts before being brought back up to join the bullpen. While working out of the Mariners bullpen, he has an ERA of 3.86. Although this number is about half the number that their current rotation players have earned, he has only pitched 9 1/3 innings. Look for him to get some extra work in the near future to see if he could resume a starting role for the Seattle.
Jason Hartzog is on Twitter. Follow him at @JHartsLife