Checking In With The Big Three


As the Mariners rotation continues to shift, most recently with an Erasmo RamirezBlake Beavan swap, more focus is being placed on the young up-and-comers in Double-A. According to Geoff BakerDanny Hultzen is on his way to Tacoma, just in case Hector Noesi melts down in his next start or, you know, the Mariners want to strengthen their rotation in any way.

Until the Big Three transition to the bigs, let’s check in on their seasons so far.

Danny Hultzen

After 13 starts, Hultzen carries an 8-3 record. His FIP and WHIP are a measly 2.84 and 0.93, respectively, with a 2.47 K/BB through 75.1 IP. He has not allowed a run in his last four starts, including his longest outing to date: a full 8 innings against the Marlins’ Double-A affiliate, when he relinquished just two hits and a single walk in 25 batters.

In a recent scouting report from FanGraphs’ Mike Newman, Hultzen’s pitch repertoire is slotted at the level of a second or third starter.

"“Hultzen navigated in-and-out of tight spots with the ease of a veteran many years his senior and presented as in complete control of the game on a day when his best stuff was not present.”"

Taijuan Walker

While Walker’s stuff is solid, he’s experienced a few setbacks in recent outings. Over his last four starts, his ERA has steadily increased, spiking from 3.60 on a 2-run performance to 14.73 in his last appearance, when he got shelled by the Dodgers’ AA lineup on 6 hits and 6 earned runs in 3.2 IP. Despite a 3.39 FIP on the season, Walker holds a solid 1.33 WHIP and 2.57 K/BB.

On the plus side, Fake Teams projects Walker as the No. 2 midseason prospect with high praise for his fastball and curve. From Craig Goldstein:

"“The scary part is, while Bundy has a mature frame with present everything, Walker has a lot of present stuff with plenty of projection to go. He has room to add substantial weight to his frame, leaving room for additional velocity, and the ability to hold his stuff further into games.”"

James Paxton

Of the three, Paxton is perhaps the furthest from a major league debut. His FIP is a hefty 4.49, with a respectable K/9 of 10.10 and not-so-respectable BB/9 of 6.22. Looking at his last three appearances, he racked up 11 hits, 10 earned runs, and a staggering 11 walks in just 11.2 IP.

With a 3-3 record in 10 starts, Paxton sinks to No. 21 in the Fake Teams prospect rankings. Via Goldstein’s profile:

"“The only other factor affecting Paxton’s path to the big leagues is his relative lack of innings (95 last year). There is a good chance that Paxton could be more effect [sic] than three of Seattle’s current starters (Noesi, Beavan, Millwood) and possibly four (Vargas), though the time in the minors will do him well.”"