Mariners: They Don’t Need a Fifth Starter, They Have Justin Dunn
Throughout the offseason, plenty has been made about the Mariners needing to find another starting pitcher. The conversation continued even after the Robbie Ray signing, as many wondered who would take the 5th and final spot in the rotation. Personally, I think the Mariners can save their money and use it on hitters because they already have the solution currently on the team. His name is Justin Dunn.
We even talked earlier in the offseason about some of the options for Justin Dunn. However, one of them was left off of the list. Being a starting pitcher for the Mariners.
There’s a couple of reasons that I think they should stick with Dunn. The Mariners are getting close to a point where they might actually have too many pitchers. Think about the list of guys who either are or will be available and ready to start by midseason 2023. Oh, and these just aren’t barely making it guys. They’re already in the majors or have the potential and expectation to be mid-rotation guys, if not frontline starters.
- Robbie Ray
- Marco Gonzales
- Logan Gilbert
- Chris Flexen
- Justin Dunn
- Justus Sheffield
- George Kirby
- Emerson Hancock
- Matt Brash
- Connor Phillips
- Levi Stoudt
- Brandon Williamson
Some of you may be a bit lower on one of the guys listed, some may really like some of them. You can see where the argument stems from by looking at that list. Yeah, we could add in a new starter (I’ve pined for it plenty of times in articles), but you would need to send out one of the guys on the above list.
Or… the Mariners could just stick with that group of guys, and see what you have in Justin Dunn.
2022 is going to be his age-26 season. He’s still young and looked to have turned a corner last year before starting to experience some shoulder issues and fatigue. There are two things that really stand out to me, and it’s why I want to see him given a chance as the starter for that 5th spot in the rotation. They actually go hand-in-hand a little bit.
The first thing that people want to talk about with Justin Dunn is his walk rate. They’re right. It does need work. However, when you look at his 2020 numbers, you need to go further than just what you see when you look at his bb/9 number of 5.2. Remember the first game of the year? Dunn was all over the place and walked eight hitters. Let’s call that opening day jitters. His walk rate over the next 45.2 innings drops to 4.14. Not great, but much better and a good sign.
Oddly enough, he actually threw 45.2 innings in 2020, which is what he threw in 2021 if you exclude that first start. He had a walk rate of 6.1 in 2020. He dropped it by a full two walks per nine innings. I’m not saying he’s going to do that again. It is a good indicator for those of us that want to see him succeed that he could be going in the right direction… especially when you look at how hard he’s now throwing.
He’s decreased that walk rate while increasing his velo on the 4-seamer by 2.5 mph. That’s an incredible jump. To now be averaging 94 mph, while striking out nearly a guy an inning (8.8/9), it gives you hope that Dunn can figure it out. It’s not just that he could be good enough to be the number five starter for the mariners, but that he has a 3/4 potential.
I know that he needs to stay healthy. He made it to just 50 innings last year. However, with his talent and potential, I think the Mariners need to see what they have in him before moving on to someone else.
When it comes down to it, I’m really interested to see what the guy who hasn’t reached his prime age range yet (27-29), dropped his walk rate by two full walks per nine while increasing his velo by 2.5 mph at the same time. The Mariners have their fifth starter, and his name is Justin Dunn.