Projecting the 2018 Seattle Mariners: Ariel Miranda

SEATTLE, WA - AUGUST 13: Starter Ariel Miranda
SEATTLE, WA - AUGUST 13: Starter Ariel Miranda /

The Seattle Mariners enter the 2018 season, needing quality innings from at least 4 “starters” to help fill out their rotation. Among them, a 2017 rotation stalwart who shows flashes of brilliance and inconsistent command.

If told you entering Spring Training of 2017 that Ariel Miranda would lead the Mariners in innings pitched, you might have predicted the outcome of the season. While he showed flashes of brilliance at times, he has been a mediocre #5 starter at best in his young career.

2017 really was a tale of splits for Miranda. In his first half, Miranda posted solid numbers, including an opponents slash of .216/.288/.411 and a respectable 4.15 ERA in 104 innings. He also posted a 1.15 WHIP, quite impressive.

However, in the second half, Miranda fell off the earth. Hitters posted a .264/.341/.583 slash line, and belted 17 home runs in just 56 innings. But the splits don’t stop there.

At home, Miranda posted a 3.95 ERA, while opponents slashed a measly .199/.270/.371 in 84 innings. However, on the road, Miranda got lit up… hard. In 75 innings away from Safeco, Miranda was crushed to a tune of a .268/.345/.577 opponents slash with a whopping 6.42 ERA.

Whether he is pitching at home or away, Miranda needs to get his home run problem under control. Miranda gave up 37 long balls in 2017, second most in MLB. He finished 1 homer behind Rick Porcello, while throwing 40 fewer innings.

Miranda’s arsenal needs a 3rd pitch, and it needs it now. Miranda’s fastball sits at around 93 MPH, and can hit 96 at times. His split-change is a nice pitch, but is not plus. In 2017, the only pitch with a positive score for Miranda was his slider. Miranda rarely throws it (about 5% of his pitches), and his lack of trust is concerning. So how do we foresee Miranda’s 2018 season?

Projections for Ariel Miranda in 2018: 100 IP, 90 hits, 24 HR, 75 strikeouts, 35 walks, 4.50 ERA, 5.83 FIP, 1.25 WHIP

While it may look like we are projecting a slightly better season for Miranda in 2018, these are essentially the same ratios he posted in 2017, just with fewer innings pitched. Until we see more consistent feel for a slider, it is tough to see Miranda take a jump at 29-years-old.

An extreme fly ball pitcher, Miranda is a nice fit pitching at Safeco Field. However, he will need to cover a lot of innings this year. In fact, 4/5 of the projected rotation will miss time. Miranda likely starts the year in Tacoma, but may not make it to May before the Mariners need him.

Next: Projecting the 2018 Mariners: Erasmo Ramirez

Ultimately, the Mariners need Ariel Miranda to be something he isn’t. Or at least something he hasn’t shown the ability to do. An epic failure on the part of the organization to be sure. But if the Mariners want to make the playoffs, they need Miranda to be more than he has shown. Can he do it? We are set to find out.