Mar 11, 2014; Tempe, AZ, USA; Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Scott Baker (58) pitches against the Los Angeles Angels in the first inning at Tempe Diablo Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Scott Baker is Gone and There Are Even More Questions

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Another one bites the dust. The Mariners released Scott Baker yesterday after some disappointing numbers through his spring campaign. While this isn’t a complete surprise, there is certainly some uneasiness about how to fill out the rotation.

We’ve known for a while that the Mariners were in the market for another starter, and Baker was a chance that just didn’t pan out for the M’s. Now we are likely to see both Hisashi Iwakuma and Taijuan Walker start the season on the DL, which is obviously disconcerting.

We already assumed that James Paxton and Erasmo Ramirez were going to be featured in the 2014 starting rotation, but I don’t think that any of us suspected that they would be the number two and three guys. As Dan pointed out yesterday, the M’s are now in a position where they have to consider Blake Beavan and Randy Wolf for those other two slots.

Other guys currently up for that job are Brandon Maurer and Roenis Elias. Maurer made a name for himself after a distinguishing Cactus League performance. He was kept in Seattle as a starter for the early part of 2013 and the wheels completely fell off. It was a disappointing way to see Maurer leave Seattle, and it was just another example of how easily M’s fans fall in love with a guy who quickly disappoints again.

With any luck we’ll see Maurer come back to Seattle and regain all that confidence we saw a year ago, though I think we are all a little bit hesitant to pencil him into a slot.

Over at Lookout Landing, they are calling Roenis Elias, “This year’s Brandon Maurer.” So at the very least there’s a chance we’ll see him in Seattle, though I would be astounded to see him come up for more than a few games in a pinch.

So who does that leave? Let’s just put it this way, if the Mariners aren’t actively shopping Nick Franklin around, they should definitely start.

For the short term, the Mariners will need to look externally to fill these holes in the rotation, but that’s not to say that the farm system has been tapped dry. On the contrary, there are some young guys who are on the cusp of making it to the show, just not that soon.

Edwin Diaz and Luiz Gohara are among the top 20 prospects in the Mariners system, but there is still quite a lot of time to wait before they’re ready to go. Currently they are scheduled to make their way to Seattle in 2017.

In the meantime, the M’s are stuck in limbo as opening day looms ever closer.

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