Seattle Mariners Opening Day Roster: Sodo Mojo Predictions

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Sep 28, 2014; Seattle, WA, USA; Fans watch as Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Felix Hernandez (34) pitches to the Los Angeles Angels during the third inning at Safeco Field. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

The Starting Rotation:

Unless someone gets hurt or miserably underperforms, I would argue the Mariners rotation is already set for 2015. It’ll be deep, with a 6 and a 7 in the rotation capable of effectively spot starting. It’ll be devastating. And it has young pitchers with serious upside.

Here are the starting 5:

1. Felix Hernandez

2. James Paxton

Sep 8, 2014; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Mariners pitcher Felix Hernandez (34) talks with catcher Mike Zunino (3) during the sixth inning of a 4-1 Mariners victory against the Houston Astros at Safeco Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

3. Hisashi Iwakuma

4. J.A. Happ

5. Taijuan Walker

Let’s break it down generally then look at the specific spots.

First, Paxton will be the #2 over Iwakuma, and Happ will be the #4 over Walker to split up the lefties in the rotation. This way the Mariners will be starting a left-handed pitcher in every single three-game series they play. This forces the opposing manager to finagle his lineup, and at the same time opens up the possibilities for matchup advantages in every series.

Then, Taijuan Walker wins the #5 spot over Roenis Elias because he is going to come out firing in Spring Training. And because I don’t think the Mariners want to carry a rotation with 3 left-handed pitchers.

Felix is #1. I don’t have anything else to say about that.

Paxton has had one of the most prolific starts to a pitching career, boasting a 9-4 record with a 2.66 ERA, 1.133 WHIP, and 80 strikeouts in 98.0 innings pitched. His 36 walks are too high, but his mere 5 home runs allowed are seriously encouraging. With a full Spring Training without injury, Paxton will be locked in for 2015.

‘Kuma has been great to start the last two seasons, but has faded hard down the stretch. He will be solid for the Mariners as their #3, but I wonder if he becomes a trade deadline seller who goes elsewhere for positional depth or to replace an injured starter. Either way, ‘Kuma deals when he’s healthy and not fatigued, and should be one of the best #3s in the MLB to start the season.

More from Mariners News

Happ is still a mystery to Mariners fans, but expect him to excel at Safeco Field and in the Mariners clubhouse. His ERA will drop below 4.00 with the M’s. But the biggest question mark with this southpaw is his durability: he’s never pitched more than 166.0 innings in a season, and that was back in 2009 with the Phillies. Fortunately, if he falters or gets hurt, the Mariners have a young lefty in Roenis Elias who could replace him down the stretch.

Walker is the biggest question mark, as his secondary pitches aren’t quite there and he hit the injury bug hard in 2014. But Walker’s only 22, and with a full Spring Training of workouts and bullpens and live pitching, he should continue to improve. He’s got the upside to be an ace someday, so don’t sleep on the Fresh Prince. If he can find his control– always the key question– he will be the best #5 in the MLB without question.