There comes a time in every season when you look at some of your players and ask, “How long do we give them before we take them out of the order/rotation?” Well the time to start asking these questions has already come, so let’s take a look at a few of these struggling Mariners.
Olivo frustrates me a lot. Not only is he sporting a .169 average, but he has a 1.6% walk rate and a -6 wRC+. In addition, Olivo does not really contribute anything behind the plate except the ability to call a good game. This skill set has decreased in value due to the pretty experienced pitching staff of the Mariners. Millwood, Felix, and Vargas are all capable of calling good games themselves, so Olivo’s ability to do so is not as needed. The other factor is the fact that we have two other capable catchers on the roster right now. Montero has looked a lot better than I expected behind the plate, and Jaso has left most Mariner fans begging to see him more. Olivo should certainly get scattered starts, especially when Noesi and Beavan are on the mound, but if his bat doesn’t heat up quickly, Olivo should not be in the lineup as constantly as he is now.
Brendan Ryan’s .174 average doesn’t tell the whole story. I bet most the casual Mariner fans who read this will be shocked to find out that Ryan is tied for the second highest OBP on the Mariners for consistent starters. Ryan actually has eight hits and ten walks this year. He is also the only hitter in double digit walks. Brendan is also a key contributor on defense which adds to the reasons he should stay in the starting lineup. The last reason that Ryan should not be benched anytime soon is the lack of a better option at short. Seager is actually a decent option there, but I think that it is too great of a downgrade to make at a defensive minded position. Kawasaki has been even more ineffective with the bat than Ryan this year, and Carlos Trunifel is the best option in AAA. I personally would much prefer Brendan Ryan to be playing short than any of the other names mentioned. Between Ryan’s high OBP and defensive prowess, I think he continues to be the everyday shortstop unless his batting becomes unbearable or Nick Franklin surprises the world by forcing a late season call-up.
Millwood brings a nice veteran presence to the pitching staff, but that doesn’t outweigh the fact that he isn’t pitching too great. I don’t think that anyone is pretending that he is in the future plans of the Mariners, so it wouldn’t be a bad idea to put him into a long relief role if Erasmo Ramirez pitches well enough to deserve a spot in the starting rotation. I think that the amount of time before Millwood is no longer a starter depends more on Ramirez’ progress than Millwood’s failures.
Cut him some slack, not only is this his first real spot in a starting rotation, but two of his four starts have come at Texas and at Detroit, both of which are pretty tough environments for pitchers to succeed in. Millwood should be out of the rotation before Noesi is, and I don’t see anyone beyond Ramirez who deserves a starting spot. Maybe Iwakuma, but there is no point in starting a 31 year old with a short term contract. Furbush is the only guy who would potentially steal Noesi’s spot, but Hector deserves a couple of months before he is booted from the rotation.