Today, Don Wakamatsu named parts of his 2009 starting rotation, but there is one player that he has yet to talk to about it. Here is how it looks so far.
1. Felix Hernandez
2. Erik Bedard
3. Carlos Silva
4. Jarrod Washburn
5. Ryan Rowland-Smith
I find that a very productive rotation, especially since each and every one of those players has a significant upside heading into 2009.
Felix Hernandez- Before the 2008 season all of the MLB managers took part in a simple survey of what one player they would want to build their team around. Felix Hernandez finished fourth in the voting after Hanley Ramirez, Alex Rodriguez and Chase Utley.
He is not even 23 years-old and he posted a 3.45 ERA and 175 strikeouts in an injury plagued season. His ERA was south of 3.00 before getting hit by a ball hit by none other than Carlos Beltran (just innings earlier that same night he hit a grand slam off of Johan Santana).
Over the offseason Felix has matured and is more relaxed which should lead to an even better season, especially with some changes in the roster. The Mariners added Endy Chavez and Franklin Gutierrez which resulted in the Mariners becoming the best team defensively, which should lower his ERA by quite a lot.
Erik Bedard- It was just in 2007 that Bedard was on the road to become the Cy Young winner, but a late season injury left him at a 3.16 ERA and 221 strikeouts. An injured 2008 season left him to make a meager 15 starts where he posted a 3.67 ERA.
In 2009 he can only go up from 2008. The clubhouse problems are settled, and he lacks the enormous pressure he received from Seattle last season and he is now becoming friends with many Mariners including fellow fisherman and pitcher, Jarrod Washburn.
If Bedard can stay healthy and relaxed he should return to Cy Young form, the only catch is that he is the Mariners ace-in-the-hole.
Carlos Silva- One day this off-season I was reading that a statistician did some figuring and determined that if Carlos Silva has the defense behind him right now, last season he would have posted a 4.55 ERA, quite a bit better than the 6.46 he posted.
A new, slimmer Carlos Silva can even improve off of the should-be 4.55 ERA as he lost around 35 pounds this off-season so his back problems are over. Without J.J. Putz or Sean Green any longer on the roster he should be more positive towards team mates.
What you can expect from Silva in 2009, is a starter who puts up an ERA hovering around the 4.00 mark, a much needed improvement for him and the M’s.
Jarrod Washburn- One of the many 2010 free agents on the team, Jarrod Washburn, should have a better than usual year. The last time he was in a contract season he posted a 3.20 ERA for the Angels.
If Washburn can come within 1.00 points from that, I will be thrilled for the guy and the Mariners. But watch for him to possibly get caught up in the Mariners new theme of success and post numbers similar to Carlos Silva’s predictions, but with more strikeouts.
Washburn is getting up in years, but so was Jamie Moyer when he began his late career dominance. Can Washburn put up numbers that make him worthy of the money he has been given in the past three seasons?
Ryan Rowland-Smith- “Aussie” may become the best fifth starter of any team this coming season. But only if he keeps doing what he is doing and doesn’t get bit by the injury bug.
In 12 starts last season, Ryan Rowland-Smith boasted a 3.50 ERA, just .01 worse than Ervin Santana’s 3.49. Remember he isn’t the team ace either, he is the Mariners back-end man in 2009.
I have nothing but hope for Ryan Rowland-Smith in 2009. He is a high quality starter who will give the Mariners exactly what they want, success.