Mariners' Pitching Staff Could Put Them Over the Hump

Pete TreperinasCorrespondent IJuly 23, 2009

NEW YORK - JULY 01:  Jarrod Washburn #56 of the Seattle Mariners pitches against the New York Yankees on July 1, 2009 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

All season, and even in the last off-season, there has been so much talk about the Seattle Mariners dealing pitchers such as Erik Bedard and Jarrod Washburn.

Everything seems to be falling in place for the Mariners right now, and regardless of how much certain players will be worth after the 2009 season, I think they should hang on to what they've got, and go for the AL West title.

In the last of a three-game series with Detroit on Thursday, Washburn threw seven innings of two-hit ball, helping Seattle to a 2-1 win, and a series win.

Earlier this year, Washburn had a serious lack of run support in almost every start he had. Regardless of the fact, he boasts a 2.71 ERA and a 8-6 record.

Why deal a guy who has developed into one of the Mariners' most reliable starters?

In front of Washburn in the reliability department is Felix Hernandez. His 11-3 record and 2.45 ERA are numbers to get excited about.

Over the past few seasons, Seattle has anxiously waited for Hernandez to mature enough to truly dominate. He had his ups and downs through those seasons, but 2009 appears to be Hernandez's rise, and his All-Star appearance proves this.

Then there's Erik Bedard. The Mariners shipped some of their future (Adam Jones, George Sherill, Chris Tillman) to Baltimore for Bedard before the 2008 season in hopes of a post-season run. Things didn't go as planned for Seattle, and talks of a trade to Philadelphia came up around this time last year.

I'm glad that Seattle hung in there with Bedard, because he has contributed to the team's 3.68 ERA average. After a little while on the DL, Bedard returned on July 8, and has a 5-2 record in 14 starts.

To have the third starter in your rotation have numbers like Bedard's isn't shabby at all.

While the everyday studliness of Ichiro Suzuki has been a huge reason the Mariners have a 55-41 record, I think the surprisingly strong starts by this pitching staff have really helped get the Mariners where they are.

Every year, Ichiro puts up unreal numbers, but the M's seem to finish .500 at best. He can't do it by himself, especially when there was a lack of pitching.

Now he isn't doing by himself at all. His fellow bats have been pretty good lately, and the starters have made Ichiro's job that much easier.

Currently five games behind the LA Angels, Seattle is set to start a three-game series at home with the lowly Cleveland Indians.

If the Mariners' rotation can keep up the consistency, I think this team has a pretty good shot to give both the Angels and the Rangers a run for all the marbles in the AL West.