2016 saw the Mariners rotation get hit with the injury bug. Even their workhorse of an ace, Felix Hernandez, was sidelined due to injuries. Has Dipoto done enough to solidify the health of this rotation in 2017?
The Mariners pitching rotation got hit hard with injuries last season. In 2016, the Mariners used 13 different starting pitchers. The only starting arm to make all of his scheduled starts was Hisashi Iwakuma who was only one inning pitched from 200.
Everyone knows, that in sports, injuries are going to happen, but to that extent is unprecedented. We all were spoiled with Felix and his consistently Cy Young-worthy seasons. 2016 proved to us that somehow, Hernandez is just as human as all of us.
During the offseason, everyone knew that this rotation badly needed to do something about the injury-plagued roster. Dipoto went out and made some risky, but in my opinion, beneficial, moves.
First, he traded the once heralded pitching prospect, Taijuan Walker. Although he had quite the athletic build, Walker did not live up to the high expectations that we set for him. We all agree he had potential, but when you are in “win now” mode, potential isn’t enough.
Will Walker ever become what we know he can be in Arizona? We will have to wait and see.
Next, Dipoto went out and got proven pitchers who know how to get through the season without missing many starts. Drew Smyly and Yovani Gallardo will certainly be innings eaters in Seattle thanks to the big ballpark and stellar defense behind them.
Projecting to 2017
The projected rotation for 2017 goes as follows:
- Felix Hernandez
- Hisashi Iwakuma
- James Paxton
- Drew Smyly
- Ariel Miranda
Yes, the projected rotation does not include either of our new acquisitions Chris Heston or Yovani Gallardo, but there is a reason for this.
Obviously, in 2016, the Mariners rotation couldn’t avoid injuries to save their lives, so it is a great idea to have two pitchers who can be in the bullpen until they are needed to take a rotation spot.
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According to rotochamp.com, the Mariners rotation is projected to accumulate 1,015 innings, which is excellent. With the bullpen the Mariners have, they may not need to pitch 1,000 innings, but it is always nice to have durability in your back pocket.
Besides the ace of our staff, the 2017 rotation won’t scare anyone, but it doesn’t have to. All that’s being asked of the rotation is to hand the ball to the bullpen and give up minimal runs.
Look at the Cleveland Indians in their 2016 playoff run. Their game plan was to have their starters go as deep as possible before giving the ball to their two-man bullpen of Andrew Miller and Cody Allen.
With the bullpen we have, they can take the stressful situations of the 7th-9th inning. The starters just have to get them there with a lead.
The Mariners are all in for 2017. This rotation, although not one that will throw 100 MPH, will beat you with location and movement.
This pitching staff should get Mariners fans hyped for a potential playoff run. As long as the King stays healthy, the rest of his kingdom should follow suit.