Mariners in Need of Rotation Renovation

Seattle SportsnetCorrespondent IJuly 22, 2009

A day after getting blasted for seven runs in just 1 1/3 innings pitched, lefty Garrett Olson is likely on his way out of Seattle's starting rotation. Olson's impending departure creates yet another hole in the Mariners' already-thin starting five, which is little more than a trio these days.

Beyond Felix Hernandez, Erik Bedard, and Jarrod Washburn, the M's currently have no other starting pitchers on the active roster (assuming Olson's starting days are behind us).

Prior to the All-Star break, the team demoted starters Brandon Morrow and Jason Vargas to Triple-A so they could continue throwing through the mini-vacation.

While it appears likely that Vargas may return to the bigs in a short period of time, Morrow may be looking at more of an extended stay in Tacoma.

That limits the number of options available to fill the two vacant starting spots.

We'd like to see the team go old school and fill out a four-man staff the rest of the year (so as to maximize the effectiveness of the Big Three), but we know that probably won't happen. So here's a breakdown of the candidates for spots four and five in the soon-to-be-revamped quintet:

Jason Vargas

Perhaps the most likely pitcher to fill either of the open spots, Vargas had been pitching brilliantly for Seattle before setbacks in four of his past five starts.

In his first six starts with the M's, Vargas maintained an ERA of 2.35. Over his next five outings, his ERA was an atrocious 6.04.

That implosion triggered his demotion to Tacoma, but without fail, Vargas should be back within the next two weeks.

Ryan Rowland-Smith

Rowland-Smith started the year in the M's rotation before an injury put him on the shelf for nearly all of April and most of May.

Since then, he has been a starter in Triple-A where he has compiled a 5-3 record with a 4.31 ERA.

He hasn't been 100 percent by any means, but he's consistently improved with each passing outing. Over his past three starts, Rowland-Smith has gone seven-plus innings each time and given up a total of just four runs.

Brandon Morrow

The Morrow roller coaster ride continues to loop its way around the track as the right-hander has been up, down, in the pen, in the rotation, and everywhere but out in left field, it seems.

In his one start since being demoted to Triple-A, the flame-throwing youngster did little to help his cause for a promotion. In 4 2/3 IP, he gave up six hits, five earned runs, walked three, and struck out only four while compiling an ERA of 9.64.

Expect Morrow to remain in the minors until he can turn things around.

Chris Jakubauskas

The designated long man in the Mariners' pen, Jakubauskas has started eight games this year for the team.

He currently has a record of 5-6 with a 5.25 ERA, but the right-handed rookie has been getting better as of late.

In his past three outings, Jak has tossed a combined 7 2/3 IP while giving up only one earned run. His chances of earning a start or two increase with the abundance of southpaws already laying claim to much of the rotation.


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