Seattle Mariners: Projecting the 2012 Rotation
You hate to see a young stud pitcher like Michael Pineda go, but even with this loss, the Mariners' 2012 rotation isn't exactly in shambles.
Anytime Felix Hernandez is your ace pitcher, your rotation is going to be better than 40% of the teams in the league. Even if your other four pitchers are just average, you're still going to have an above-average rotation with King Felix at the top.
Several new pitchers have arrived, including Japanese sensation Hisashi Iwakuma.
With the departure of pitchers like Doug Fister, Erik Bedard, and Michael Pineda this 2012 rotation will look completely revamped.
1. Felix Hernandez
This is a fairly obvious pick. As long as Felix Hernandez is around, he will be the unquestioned ace of the Seattle Mariners. I'd go even further to say that he'd probably be the ace of 95% of other MLB teams.
What can you say about this kid that you haven't already heard?
He is one of the best pitchers in all of baseball,and he is only 25 years old. If he keeps this up, he could very well end up enshrined in Cooperstown when he decides to retire.
2. Jason Vargas
Jason Vargas has never really had a chance to be a bonafide number two starter behind Hernandez, but he will get that opportunity this year.
Always in the shadow of guys like Michael Pineda and Cliff Lee, he has always been a number three or number four pitcher in the Mariners' rotation, and he was a great middle of the rotation type of guy.
But Vargas is turning 29 in a couple of weeks. It's time to see if he is ready to step up and be an anchor in this rotation for some of the new younger faces because if he doesn't, the Mariners might be in trouble.
3. Hisashi Ikawuma
Although it isn't ideal to put a Japanese-bred pitcher this high in an MLB rotation when he hasn't proven himself, the Mariners are left with no other choice.
He may not be as hyped as Yu Darvish, and he may not be as purely gifted, but if things go right, I strongly believe Ikawuma can be a solid starter.
I know Ichiro is a positon player, but when he was brought over, nobody expected anything. The Mariners slid him into the starting lineup, and the rest is history.
Ikawuma is literally coming on a bargain bin type of contract, so even if he blows up in the Mariners' face, it won't be too costly.
4. Blake Beavan
Blake Beavan is one of the young guns; he just turned 23 years old, but the Mariners are confident he can be a solid bottom of the rotation pitcher.
In 15 starts and 97 innings pitched, he had a decent 4.27 ERA.
Not dominant numbers, but you can't expect every pitcher in your rotation to be posting sub 3.00 ERA's and 250 innings pitched every year.
5. Hector Noesi
Hector Noesi was brought in from the Michael Pineda trade, and while Jesus Montero was the big acquisition, Noesi might see extended playing time as well.
Noesi has a very good chance at snagging the number five spot in this rotation.
He posted a 4.47 ERA in mostly relief appearances. He started just two games in 30 appearances, but with the competition for the number five role wide open, you have to think this kid will be a front runner.
This isn't New York either. An inviting Seattle environment might be what he needs to relax and pitch without worries.