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In recent seasons, the Seattle pitching staff has been the team’s strong suit, atoning for the Mariners’ lack of hitting. This season has been an up-and-down one for Mariners pitchers—both the starters and the bullpen.
The starting rotation is special in that all five starters—Felix Hernandez, Jason Vargas, Kevin Millwood, Blake Beavan and Hector Noesi—have not missed a turn all year, and the M’s have not necessitated a substitute starter for any game.
However, that might soon change in June.
Hernandez is still his awesome self, though his 4-4 record doesn’t concur. Vargas, in fact, leads the team with 84 innings pitched and has a solid 7-4 record on the season. Meanwhile, the veteran, Millwood, is holding his own as the sage of the rotation, sporting an adequate 3.90 ERA in 11 starts.
The problem with the rotation is the youngsters—Beavan and Noesi, each of whom is his second season in the bigs. Beavan (5.22) and Noesi (5.51) are both in the bottom 15 in the AL in ERA. Beavan has a 3-5 record, while Noesi totes a 2-6 record.
Clearly, each is having a hard time adjusting to the majors.
Yes, they are young. Yes, they are inexperienced. But it’s hard for a team to throw two starting pitchers who are having a difficult time retiring hitters. Moreover, it’s the way in which they are getting beat, as opponents have peppered 24 combined home runs off Beavan and Noesi in 124 innings of work. Maybe they're just not ready for a full-time gig.
What can the Mariners do, though? Obviously, Beavan and Noesi are works in progress. It’s not as though many expected them to dominate the rest of the league. But it’s hard on the rest of the pitching staff to support two starters who are not pitching deep into ballgames.
In fact, Beavan, Noesi and Millwood
are each averaging fewer than six innings per start. That’s a tremendous strain on the bullpen—a group that isn’t exactly dominant by any stretch (Seattle’s relievers rank 11th in the league
Will there be an adjustment to the rotation this month? Should there be? It’s still early enough in the season, but maybe Beavan or Noesi will be moved sometime soon.