Cleat Geeks

King of the SEA; Mariners Rotation Preview

Seattle Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto has been one of the busiest executives in the game this off-season. Part of his moves have changed the face of the rotation, or at least the back end of it. Here is a look at the starting rotation a few days before the first Spring Training game on Wednesday.



#1 Felix Hernandez

King Felix is the undisputed ace of this staff and has been for at least seven years. He enters his 12th season in the big leagues, all with Seattle. He is coming off of a down year by his standards. He still won 18 games with minimal production from most of the Mariners lineup. He has pitched at least 200 innings in 8 straight seasons. He is third on the active list in strikeouts. He will start Opening Day for the 9th straight year. If the King can return to his pre-2015 self, he will once again be in the Cy Young discussion as well as lead a good pitching rotation to hopefully their first playoff berth since 2001.


#2 Hisashi Iwakuma 

In a crazy turn of events, Iwakuma went from signing a deal with the Dodgers to coming back to the Mariners. He struggled with injuries at times in 2015 but when he was healthy, he was the best pitcher the Mariners had not named Felix Hernandez. He threw a no-hitter and finished with 9 wins in 20 starts last season. He will be 35 soon, so a decline is inevitable. However, the Mariners need his leadership in the clubhouse and any rotation is better with him in it.

#3 Taijuan Walker

Photo by: Peter Llewellyn-USA TODAY Sports

Photo by: Peter Llewellyn-USA TODAY Sports

Walker is just 23 but already has started 37 games in the big leagues. The ceiling is very high on him and this could be the year that it starts to show. Last season was a roller coaster. He had a 2.36 ERA in June but posted an ERA above 4.80 four other months. He has ace-like stuff if he can learn control. He had 157 strikeouts in about 170 innings. He showed marked improvement in the second half of the year. If he can build on that and start this season strong, Walker being a #3 starter will be too low.

#4 Wade Miley

The Mariners traded for Miley in December, acquiring him from the Boston Red Sox. He pitched one season there after four seasons with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Last year he went 11-11 with a 4.46 ERA in arguably the toughest division to pitch in, the AL East. He was an All-Star in 2012. Miley is a veteran lefty that most rotations would like to have. For those who like analytics, Miley had a 2.5 WAR, only Clay Buchholtz had a better WAR on the Red Sox staff last season.mileyinSeatle

#5 James Paxton

Photo by: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Photo by: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Paxton is another lefty that the Mariners could use if he is healthy. The Canadian missed a big chunk of the middle of the year with nagging injuries. He is yet to turn in a full season in the big leagues. If this is the year, Seattle could be in for a treat. When he did pitch last season, he had a 3.90 ERA. His goal is to be healthy and ready to start 30+ games. He has not started more than 13 games in his three seasons in the big leagues.

In the Mix

Nate KarnsNate_Karns_Rays

Karns came to the Mariners from the Tampa Bay Rays with Boog Powell. Last season was his first full season as a starter. He went 7-5 with a 3.67 ERA in 27 appearances. He had 145 strikeouts in 147 innings. If Paxton or someone else goes down in the rotation during spring, Karns will likely break camp in the rotation. Karns’ problem is giving up home runs. He allowed 19 long balls last season. If he can get that number down and show improvement in the spring, he could nudge his way into the rotation.MLB: JUN 13 Mariners at Astros

Mike Montgomery

Montgomery impressed in limited action as a rookie in 2015. He threw two shutouts, which is not common for first-year pitchers. Even more uncommon was the fact that both shutouts came back-to-back. He does have shutout stuff. He went 4-6 with a 4.60 ERA in 16 starts for the Mariners. He likely breaks camp in Triple-A Tacoma but it’s only a matter of time before he is apart of someone’s rotation soon.




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