Mariners Miranda In A Tough Spot After Off-Season Moves

Sep 29, 2016; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Ariel Miranda (37) throws against the Oakland Athletics during the third inning at Safeco Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 29, 2016; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Ariel Miranda (37) throws against the Oakland Athletics during the third inning at Safeco Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports /

With the Mariners additions of Chris Heston and Robert Whalen, plus the return of Nathan Karns from the disabled list, where does Ariel Miranda fit in in the M’s 2017 rotation?

If it hadn’t been for GM Jerry Dipoto’s trade of Wade Miley to the Baltimore Orioles, Mariners fans would have never gotten to see Ariel Miranda pitch, at least not in an M’s uniform.

At the time of the deal in the middle of last summer, Miranda had pitched in one MLB game -it was a relief appearance that didn’t go so well, and ironically came against the Mariners. But Dipoto was hopeful, and had this to say about the Cuban left-hander’s potential:

"“Ariel Miranda is a power left-handed pitcher with a four-pitch mix that is Major League ready that provides us with flexibility,” Dipoto said. “We are very excited for what he can bring to the Mariners.”"

Dipoto was clearly looking on the bright side with Miranda, one that wasn’t too hard to find.

Despite his mediocre ERA’s of 3.93 and 3.60 in 2016 and 2015 minor league ball, the Cuban star had many moments of excellence.

Right before he was called up for his debut with the Orioles, Miranda was on a tear in triple-A. He had a streak of nineteen scoreless innings while allowing just seven hits.

Earlier that year, Miranda put on a couple of impressive displays of pitching, one of which was a seven-frame one-hit dazzler that also included nine punch outs.

Before that, Miranda had a game to remember in 2015. In mid-July of that year, he no-hit the advanced-A Fredrick Keys through six innings.

And this goes without even mentioning his long and fairly successful Cuban League career. So, with those games in his resume, combined with Dipoto’s optimistic analysis, and Miranda’s previous playing experience, it was no surprise when Miranda was called up to the big leagues for his Mariners debut in early August.

Miranda was shaky in his first few games with the Mariners, allowing at least one run in his first six games and multiple runs of five of those affairs.

He then settled into a groove that Dipoto and Mariners fans were hoping for. From his first through his fourth starts of September, Miranda went twenty straight innings without surrendering a run.

Related Story: Miranda A Cuban Sensation

Furthermore, over his last five games of the season, he had an ERA of 1.91 and a record of 3-1. His most notable blemish on his stat line during that stretch was the amount of home runs he gave up -six in 28.1 innings or one homer every four and a half frames.

Nevertheless, his impeccable play down the stretch helped the Mariners stay deep in the playoff hunt until the final weekend of the season. You would think that would earn him a sure spot in the Mariners rotation in 2017, right? Well, think again.

More from SoDo Mojo

Even before Chris Heston was traded to the Mariners, Miranda was battling Nathan Karns for the fourth spot in the rotation.

Rob Whalen would be a bullpen piece but probably come in as a starter if one of them hit a rough patch.

But not only do the Mariners now have Heston -who will turn a fight for two spots into three-man ordeal- but there is still constant chatter that the Mariners are looking to add a veteran pitcher, who the other team would supposedly get for obtaining Karns.

Yet, so much is still up in the air about this unknown veteran pitcher that isn’t on the team, and the Mariners already have plenty of candidates to fill the five spots including Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma, James Paxton, Heston, Karns, Miranda, and potentially Whalen -who will showcase his stuff at spring training- as the more likely men considered for a spot.

Next: New Bill Will Allow Guns Inside Safeco

This means that by opening day, Miranda could possibly end up off the five-man rotation, although he’ll most likely fit in someone towards the end of the rotation, probably a five spot. But the possibility is real that Miranda may have to go to a role in the bullpen if he wants a more secure spot on the Mariners roster.