Doug Fister has been worth 1.1 WAR through 5 starts this year. Jason Vargas has been worth 0.5 through 4. If I told you this trend would continue I would be lying. As Matthew pointed out at LL, Fister has been living off called strikes. Hitters just haven’t been swinging at his pitches in the zone, be it attributed to deception in his delivery or something else. It takes impeccable command to build an entire (successful) career off that, and very, very few have been able to do it. Vargas, on the other hand, has run a 4.22 xFIP (think of this as defense-adjusted ERA) so far and while I don’t think that’s sustainable, he certainly could (with a little luck) end up as a 2-win pitcher by the end of the season.
Cliff Lee was his usual self in his Mariners debut, surprising everyone who figured he might be a little rusty out of the gate. He struck out 8, walked none, and allowed only 3 hits over 7 innings, throwing only 98 pitches. Obviously he won’t keep up his sub-2 FIP, but I fully expect Clifton Phifer Lee to make Mariners fans happy as often as Felix does.
Ryan Rowland-Smith, for all of his April troubles, could find himself in trouble. Ian Snell is not suited to a relief role at all, and the M’s happen to need a lefty in the bullpen for obvious reasons, so I wouldn’t be surprised if RRS was booted back down to Sparta— er, the bullpen. Ryan has had much more success as a reliever than as a starter so far throughout his career. Then again, we wouldn’t want to give him the Brandon Morrow treatment and expect him to transition back to starting in 2011. It’s only an idea, and one that I would be comfortable with.
Felix Hernandez has induced 68 ground-balls through his first 6 starts, compared to 30 fly-balls and 36 strikeouts. A pitcher who registers more strikeouts than fly-balls over an entire season is an incredibly valuable commodity, and ours happens to have just signed a long-term deal to stay with the club for 5 more years.
The M’s AA rotation is killer. 2012 will be grand indeed, even if only 1-2 of our prospects turn out as hoped.