In preparation of the 2011 MLB Fantasy Baseball season, The Fantasy Fix team will preview a team's pitching rotation each day.
In his third pitching preview of the American League West, Chris Summers looks at the King, Felix Hernandez and his supporting cast.
Typically, when you write an article, you don’t encourage your readers to turn away, but the Seattle Mariners just look brutal on paper—if you are a Mariner fan, go to tmz.com and check on Charlie Sheen’s latest antics.
There’s not a lot to like on the Mariners, aside from Felix Hernandez.
First, they had a putrid offense last year, so putrid that it nearly cost Felix Hernandez the Cy Young because he had so few wins.
Second, they really don’t have any big name starters, all are relatively unknown quantities.
The big detriment is the lack of runs, the Mariners scored 100 runs LESS than any team in the American league and looking at their projected lineup, I don’t see anything that will lead to a significantly result this season.
The good news is “King” Felix Hernandez projects as one of the best fantasy starters in baseball.
Felix lead all of the major leagues in ERA, second in strikeouts, fifth in WHIP, lowest OPS against, but he was nowhere near the top in wins. The culprit: He was DEAD LAST in run support, only receiving 3.75 runs per game on average.
Think of it this way: Felix had an ERA of 2.27; Phil Hughes, the leader in run support at 9.6 runs per game, finished the season 18-8—just imagine Felix’s record with a couple more runs a game.
King Felix will turn 25 about a week into the season, so the scary thing is he still has room to grow. He’s reduced his ERA each year he’s been in the league and improved his strikeout numbers each of the last three seasons.
Simply stated: He’s a stud; he’ll be gone in the first couple of rounds of all fantasy drafts.
The bad news is the rest of the rotation leaves you saying “Um, and he is…?” The only recognizable name is Erik Bedard, so we’ll move onto him.
Well, he hasn’t pitched since July of 2009 and he’s had three shoulder injuries over the last three years, limiting him to 164 total innings, so he should be plenty rested.
When healthy Berdard can be decent, unfortunately, his last serviceable year was in 2007. There was some optimism that he would be able to return last July, but he was subsequently shut down.
Based on his past history, you can’t count on a full season from him; at best, you are probably getting 15 serviceable starts. Buyer beware.
Jason Vargas quietly had a decent season; on a team that could score more runs, he probably would’ve been middle of the road.
He managed to have a 3.78 ERA, but his fifth worst run support left him with a 9-12 record. He does play at the pitcher friendly Safeco Field, plus he proved to be durable, but his strikeout totals are low, so even with more wins he’s not going to be a world beater.
I feel like a broken record, but Doug Fister suffered from the lack of Seattle run support. His ERA of 4.11 wasn’t terrible, he only issued 32 walks in 28 games, but he only strikes out one batter every other inning.
There is no established fifth starter. David Pauley, a career minor leaguer looked solid over his last five starts of 2010, posting a 3.41 ERA. But as a career minor-leaguer, you can’t expect much from him this season.
Another possible fifth starter is Luke French, he made 13 starts last year and posted a 5-7 record with a 4.83 ERA; he didn’t strike anyone out and allowed an alarming number of home runs, so it won’t take much to knock him out of the fifth spot.
The most likely outcome is that some combination of Pauly and Fister keeps the fifth spot warm until midseason, when the Mariners will call up top pitching prospect Michael Pineda.
He finished last year in Triple-A, where he had 76 strikeouts in 62 1/3 innings. He has a live arm that tops out at about 97 mph, while Seattle has little reason to rush him; they also have ample room in the rotation to let him grow up on the big league roster like Felix Hernandez before him.
He probably won’t start the season on the major league roster, but watch him as a waiver wire pick-up in midseason.
There really isn’t too much to this Seattle rotation, obviously Felix is a stud and projects to finish in the top three of fantasy starters this year.
Aside from Felix, you aren’t drafting any Seattle starter, but monitor the waiver wires for Pineda and Bedard.
Written by Chris Summers exclusively for TheFantasyFix.com
Read more of Chris' 2011 Fantasy Baseball Pitching Previews: