I know the idea of going with a six man rotation scares a lot of people off. Every team wishes they could have a solid core of five guys that they can run out there on a consistent basis. This is the ideal situation that is proven to be the most successful way of dealing with your clubs starting rotation. With that being said, the Mariners will need to seriously consider going to a six man rotation when Danny Hultzen gets called up.
As of right now our rotation looks like: Felix, Vargas, Noesi, Ramirez and Millwood. When Hultzen gets called up it should be the end of the road for Millwood. It was obvious from the first day they signed him that he was a placeholder until one of our younger pitchers were ready. Hultzen is very close to being ready and many people think he could be successful in the majors right now. The Mariners want to get him some starts in Triple A before them give him the call but most are projecting that he will be called up near the end of July. This means that Millwood has exactly one month to impress other teams who are looking to add veteran pitching as they make their playoff push.
This is where Charlie Furbush comes into play. He has been flat out nasty in the relief role this year. He has thrown 31.1 innings with a 2.01 ERA. He has struck out 39 batters while only walking 5. He was given a chance to be a starter last year, but that did not end up well because he was giving up home runs at an alarming rate. Furbush looks like he has fixed some of the command issues that caused him to give up those home runs last year. He has only given up two home runs while being forced to pitch in some high pressure situations. He deserves a chance to try and start again because of his performance so far this year. He has the potential to be a very good back end starter. The best part about giving him a chance to start is that if it does not work and he struggles again, they can put him back in his current role where he can continue to be successful.
The six man rotation would have to be implemented if they did try and start Furbush. There is nobody in our future rotation that includes Hultzen that you could replace. Your not going to send down Ramirez, Hultzen or Noesi. So that would leave Furbush as our sixth starter. This is a strategy that could be very beneficial for the Mariners for a couple reasons.
First, it will keep the innings down for Felix. We are clearly not going to be in contention and having him pitch a full load does not make sense. You could still let him throw 110 pitches every outing, but he will be getting an extra day of rest before each start and that could really help limit the wear and tear on his arm. Same can be said for Vargas. It is well known that he has struggled mightily after the all star break the last two years. Limiting him might help his production and increase his value to other organizations.
The rest of our rotation would be made up of young guns. Ramirez, Hultzen and Noesi are all young and it would benefit them to get the extra rest while they learn the ropes of being a major league starting pitcher. We do not want to rush these guys into throwing too many innings to early. They need to develop and get prepared for the bright years they have to come. Going with the six man rotation might be unconventional, but it would benefit the Mariners as they try to figure out who can do what on our current roster.