Seattle Mariners vs. Los Angeles Angels Series Preview

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Aug 11, 2014; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Felix Hernandez (34) pitches to the Toronto Blue Jays during the first inning at Safeco Field. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Will the Mariners’ Pitchers be Great Again in 2015?

Everyone would agree that the stellar performances from the Mariners’ starters and relievers were the backbone of the club last season. The starting rotation was amongst the most productive in the game, and the bullpen was as close to a sure thing as humanly possible. However, spring training has not been kind to the vaunted hurlers in the M’s pitching staff.

Felix Hernandez will get the ball on Opening Day for the 7th consecutive season. 2014 was arguably his best as a pro, and Corey Kluber winning the AL Cy Young award last season was nothing short of daylight robbery. However, Felix did not look sharp in Arizona, going 0-3 with a 10.22 ERA across 12.1 innings. I’m not too concerned about King Felix’s lackluster performance in spring training. He is a veteran, and I fully believe he will dominate the Angels on Monday afternoon. I envision Felix posting his highest win tally of his career this summer. 2015 has the makings of his best season.

Mar 27, 2015; Surprise, AZ, USA; Seattle Mariners pitcher James Paxton (65) on the mound during a spring training game against the Kansas City Royals at Surprise Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Allan Henry-USA TODAY Sports

James Paxton is the M’s scheduled starter for game 2 on Tuesday night. Paxton missed the first few weeks of spring after falling awkwardly during fielding drills in February. Spring training was a bit of a mixed bag for the 26-year-old southpaw. He pitched well during his first 2 outings, but was roughed up badly in his final start. Paxton exited the Cactus League with a 1-2 record, and a 7.84 ERA across 10.1 innings. Pax was filthy for the M’s down the stretch in 2014, and he is widely considered to be one of the best young lefties in baseball. Jazzy James has always pitched well against the Halos, and I expect that trend to continue on Tuesday night.

Hisashi Iwakuma will toe the rubber for the M’s on Wednesday night in the finale of Seattle’s 3 game series against the Angels. Kuma was very effective in spring training, going 0-0 and posting a 3.27 ERA across 11 innings of work. Iwakuma’s typical pinpoint control vanished down the stretch last season, and that really hurt Seattle. However, the Tokyo native did not participate in spring training last year, and he did not make his regular season debut until May as he recovered from a tendon issue in his middle finger. He has looked strong this spring, and I expect him to perform well on Wednesday night against the Angels.

The bullpen was lights out in 2014, but they have looked very hittable in spring training. Charlie Furbush and Tom Wilhelmsen logged some key innings last season, but they have combined to post an 8.90 ERA across 19.2 innings. Danny Farquhar was dominant as the Mariners’ setup man last season, but he has registered a 4.63 ERA over 11.2 innings this spring.

Thankfully, not everyone down in the ‘pen has struggled. Yoervis Medina has been filthy, posting a 0.69 ERA and 10 punch-outs in 13 Cactus League innings. Fernando Rodney set a Mariners’ record in 2014 by tallying 48 saves, and he has carried that success into this spring. Rodney registered a perfect 0.00 ERA, and held the opposition to a .185 batting average. Spokane native Tyler Olson will make his Major League debut at some point this week against the Angels. Olson was electric in spring training, allowing 0 earned runs over the course of 12.2 innings pitched.

Next: Our First Look at the Revamped Mariners’ Lineup