Raise your hand if during the Seattle Mariners Spring Training in 2013 you picked Brandon Maurer to get a spot in the starting rotation from the get go? Seriously, don’t be shy, just raise your hand! Oh, got it, just like everyone and their mother you didn’t think Maurer had a shot.
I didn’t either. Frankly, I don’t even think he was on the major league radar for the front office guys. But he had a spectacular spring. And that coupled with under performances and key injuries opened the door for Maurer to be in the Mariners’ opening day 5-man rotation.
His time as a starter was, well, not very good. For the whole season he compiled a 5-8 record with a 6.30 ERA. Which was worse than Aaron Harang and Joe Saunders. Which if you weren’t sure is most certainly a BAD thing. He gave up far too many home runs while issuing too many free passes… both of these things in cahoots is a recipe for disaster and for big run scoring bombs be dropped in a matter of outs. That’s part of the reason why Maurer was out of so many games before the third inning. And that is also part of the reason why the Mariners’ bullpen was so heavily taxed this season: too many games where the starters allowed 5, 6, 7 runs and we ran out of the game forcing the ‘Pen to pitch 5, 6, 0r 7 innings every 4 or 5 games.
That isn’t a good thing. And Maurer’s growing pains were expected, but the real question is what do they mean for his future?
Looking at my previous posts, you’ll see that I am fairly confident that both James Paxton and Taijuan Walker will be in the 5-man rotation on opening day in 2014. So what does that mean for Maurer?
Well here is another one of my (bold; or maybe not so bold) predictions: Maurer will not be on the opening day 25-man roster in 2014. He will start the season in AAA Tacoma, as a potential 6th or 7th starter and long reliever.
We can only hope he starts to figure it out sooner than later, but the Arizona Fall League in just one start hasn’t been too kind to Brandon. He went 1.2 innings while allowing 2 earned runs, giving he an ERA of 10.80 in the AFL, double what he had in the MLB. I know it’s only one game and such a small inning sample size, but it is starting to seem like rushing Maurer to the bigs has really killed his confidence.
And that is something that the Mariners really do need to look at up and down the organization. So many blue chip or guaranteed MLB players have come through the M’s system and popped out on the other side as mediocre or worse: entirely out of baseball.
It is still hard to know if it is the organizational structure, or just really really REALLY bad luck this last decade for the Mariners.
I hope it’s the latter. Because if it isn’t, we have another decade-long rebuilding process in our near future.
And that would suck. A lot.
Have a happy hump day and GO MARINERS.