Seattle Mariners' Position Race: Starting Rotation

Hayato UwaiCorrespondent IMarch 23, 2009

MIAMI - MARCH 16:  Starting pitcher Felix Hernandez #34 of Venezuela pitches against Puerto Rico during day 3 of round 2 of the World Baseball Classic at Dolphin Stadium on March 16, 2009 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)

The Mariners have way too many starters. It includes young guys (Felix Hernandez, Brandon Morrow, Ryan Rowland-Smith, Garrett Olson) and veterans (Jarrod Washburn, Carlos Silva, Erik Bedard). Also, non-roster invitees like Chris Jakubauskas are also in the contension. But there are only five spots on the rotation. Who will make it?

Winner for sure: Felix Hernandez, Erik Bedard

Hernandez pitched very well for Team Venezuela in the WBC. He is considered as the Mariners' ace, only at the age of 22. He has fastball well over 93 mph, good commands, but he still needs to prove that he is the Mariner ace.

Bedard, acquired from the Orioles last offseason, had 6-4 record with 3.67 ERA. He can be very productive if he can stay healthy. He looks to rebound from last season's struggle in his contract year.

Likely to win: Carlos Silva, Jarrod Washburn

Silva also pitched for the Venezuelan team. He also pitched fine, except for the last game against Korea. He started off last season going 3-0, but struggled after that. His four-year contract was definitely overpaying, but he can win double digits, and keep his ERA down. He is a fly ball pitcher, meaning that the defense is the key for Silva to be productive. The Mariners added some defensive players, which helps.

Washburn is now on his contract year. He has been disappointing all the M's fans with his record, ERA and everything. He is also a fly ball pitcher, so the new M's defense would definitely help him.

Final Spot Battle: Brandon Morrow, Ryan Rowland-Smith, Garrett Olson, Chris Jakubauskas

Morrow became a starter at the end of last season, and almost no hit the Yankees on his first career MLB start. His fastball tops 98 mph along with a great slider. He may miss the first week of the regular season with the injury, but the injury is not serious. He is leading the final spot race.

Rowland-Smith has everything. Good fastball, good commands and his unique pitching form confuses many hitters. He may start several games in place for injured Morrow if needed at the beginning of the season. But he will be a spot starter and a reliever.

Olson, acquired from the Cubs, was once a top pitching prospect for the Orioles. Although it's unlikely for him to make the rotation this year, he can be a very good starter for the Mariners. As soon as Washburn leaves Seattle, he and Rowland-Smith will get a chance to make the rotation.

Jakubauskas was invited to spring training, and has been solid. It's unlikely for him to make the rotation, he may make the opening day roster like R.A. Dickey did last season. He has no major league experience.

So the M's rotation would look something like this:
Morrow(or Rowland-Smith)

Three right-handed, two left-handed starters, which is well balanced. Bedard and Washburn are in contract year, so we can expect good stats out of them this year. Hernandez and Silva pitched very well in the WBC, proving that they are ready to continue that into the season. The M's fans finally have something to cheer on.