5 questions facing the Mariners less than a month to Spring Training
1. Who is the 5th starter?
The biggest question all winter has been about the Mariners rotation and we are still asking that question with 65% of the off-season complete. Seattle has acquired just one starting pitcher this winter, oft-injured righty Kendall Graveman, leaving massive questions in 2020.
Currently, even if we are assuming an entirely healthy staff entering Opening Day, that still leaves a sizable hole in their rotation. Assuming health, the current rotation consists of Marco Gonzales, Yusei Kikuchi, Graveman, Justus Sheffield, and… who knows?
We haven’t even seen the minor league free agents we are accustomed to seeing this time of year. If they do not add another arm, Justin Dunn appears to be the favorite to open the season in the fifth spot.
Dunn isn’t ready to get through 150 big league innings and unless moves are made, he will need to. Trusting Graveman to get you even 100 innings is a stretch. In all practicality, the Mariners have 3 starters locked into their Opening Day rotation and a whole lot of questions.
Thankfully, they still have time to get their arms. And while signing guys who may actually have trade value in July is certainly wiser, even bringing back Tommy Milone and Wade LeBlanc could help a lot.
Seattle could also acquire their arm via trade, either before spring training or during. But Seattle needs at least a few veterans to get through the first half of 2020 until Justin Dunn and Logan Gilbert may be ready to contribute at the big-league level.
Seattle could also employ the opener strategy, though they’d still need to add arms to make that work.
Until we have an answer, this will continue to be the biggest question surrounding the Mariners. They need arms badly and the longer they wait, the more difficult it may become.