With Felix Hernandez, the Seattle Mariners Have the 4th Best Rotation in Major League Baseball
On his ESPN Insider blog, Buster Olney has begun his Top-1os for the 2015 season. Beginning with the top-1o rotations in baseball, Felix Hernandez and the Seattle Mariners pitching staff clock in at 4th best in the MLB.
The Mariners rotation is deep with talent and veteran moxie, as Felix Hernandez has won 1 AL Cy Young award and finished 2nd in the voting on two occasions. Hisashi Iwakuma, expected to be the number 2 in the Mariners rotation, had a better FIP (fielding independent pitching) in 2014, compared to his 2013 season where he finished 3rd in the AL Cy Young voting.
Then, Buster Olney stresses the emerged of lefty James Paxton as a key to the Mariners slot in the top-1o. In 13 starts last season, Paxton had a 3.04 ERA over 74 innings, while allowing only three home runs.
J.A. Happ, the lefty the Mariners received in a swap for Michael Saunders with the Blue Jays, could benefit from the Safeco Field dimensions at the back end of the rotation.
Onley then imagines Roenis Elias, yet another lefty, as the 5th starter for the Mariners before saying “they will consider alternatives as well.”
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One of said alternatives will invariably be young stud Taijuan Walker, who missed most of last season with injuries. But his plus fastball is devastating if he can locate it, and if he finds a good secondary pitch, he will round out a deep and menacing Mariners rotation.
The Mariners rotation was their strength last season, as the entire pitching staff carried an AL-leading 3.17 ERA and the 5th highest strike total (1317) in the American League as well.
Barring injury and regression, the Mariners rotation will compete with any team in the American League. Granted, that is a big if.
For the rest of Olney’s top-10 rotations, he has the Washington Nationals 1st, followed by the Los Angeles Dodgers, St. Louis Cardinals, and Seattle Mariners.
October 3, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw (22) pitches the second inning against the St. Louis Cardinals in game one of the 2014 NLDS playoff baseball game at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Rounding out the top-10 are the Detroit Tigers (even without Max Scherzer), Tampa Bay Rays, Chicaco White Sox, San Diego Padres, and Cleveland Indians.
If the Mariners hold down the fort in the rotation, and the offense sees an uptick in production with the additions of Nelson Cruz, Seth Smith, and Justin Ruggiano, along with full seasons from Austin Jackson and Dustin Ackley, watch out.
How sweet would it be seeing Felix Hernandez pitch in the postseason? Yes, pretty sweet indeed.