The Seattle Mariners haven't had the most magnificent history of pitching in their relatively short period of time as a team, with only two pitchers earning more than 100 wins as a Mariner. There have been some definite standouts since 1977, though, on the various starting pitching staffs we've seen.
The future is also bright in terms of starting pitching for the M's. Michael Pineda, Danny Hultzen, James Paxton and Taijuan Walker all have legitimate potential to become aces. By 2015, we could see a rotation similar to the one the Philadelphia Phillies sported this year, but without the ridiculous payroll.
That rotation is going to take a little while to develop though, so in the meantime, here are the top 15 starting pitchers in Mariners history.
If I remember correctly, this is the picture that was on the baseball card that was being handed out in my elementary school lunch line 11 years ago. I don't know why, but this image will always remain with me, along with the memory of collecting everyone else's unwanted Jeff Fassero card.
Fassero left Seattle in 1999, after three fairly average years. The Mariners couldn't really hang onto any starting pitcher in the late 1990s, and it ultimately came back to haunt them in the 2001 season when they couldn't back up their outstanding batting order with a similar rotation.
So what if he only started 13 games in a Mariners uniform? He posted an 8-3 record in those starts and maintained a 2.34 ERA.
There wasn't a lot of competition in this list. I say we were lucky enough to be graced by Cliff Lee's presence. If only he'd stuck around, he could've made it so much farther up the list...
Sele wasn't around for very long either, but he was part of the rotation in 2001. So he contributed to the MLB-record season that, together with the 1995 ALDS, is the pride of the team—and that's worth a lot as a Mariners pitcher.
Swift earned just a 41-49 record during his time with the Mariners, but there really weren't a lot of pitchers with winning records, especially since the team didn't have a winning season until 1991.
Swift was in Seattle for seven years though—a lengthy tenure relative to other Mariners pitchers. He pitched 903 innings during that span and remarkably produced the lowest HR/9 ratio of any Mariners pitcher ever.
A 41-31 record with a 4.46 ERA is pretty decent for a Mariners pitcher. I don't mean to keep ragging on Mariners pitchers, but they've pretty much been doomed by association. Like I said earlier, it took the Mariners 15 seasons to jump up over .500, and they've only been around since 1977.
Halama stayed with the Mariners for four above-average years, including his role in the 2001 starting rotation with Aaron Sele.
Erik Hanson comes in just above Halama because his stats were just a little bit better than Halama's, and he was in Seattle for a couple more years. Hanson recorded 56 wins, 54 losses and a 3.69 ERA in 143 games started in a Mariners uniform.
He also has a great last name.
For a guy who spent seven years on the Mariners, there aren't a lot of pictures of him in a Mariners uniform. He did perform much better once he left Seattle, but he was drafted first overall by the M's in 1981.
Moore didn't put up magnificent numbers as a Mariner, but he did receive votes for the AL Cy Young award in 1985 when he produced a 5.6 WAR.
Pineiro was a 12th-round steal for the Mariners in the 1997 draft. He came up in 2000, pitching part-time, and finished in 2006 as a free agent after 56 wins. He contributed to the 2001 season with six wins and a 2.03 ERA.
Pineiro was never a strikeout pitcher, but he was a solid, middle-of-the-rotation starter who could eat innings.
He's currently a free agent after the LA Angels failed to re-sign him. It's unclear whether any team will sign him for 2012.
Abbott will be best remembered among Mariners fans for his 17-4 effort in 2001. He had a 4.48 ERA that year, so the outstanding offense certainly added to his wins total, but he carried his weight in the rotation.
As a Mariner, Abbott won about two games for every game he lost—a commendable trend that would be welcomed on any team, especially the current Mariners.
Gil Meche had an unfortunate streak of pitching in Seattle. He was drafted in the first round in 1996 as a phenomenal high school player. He came up and pitched two decent years at the turn of the millennium (1999-2000), but was hindered by injury in his throwing arm.
He had to have surgery on his rotator cuff, so he missed the magical 2001 season and spent 2002 recovering. He came up in 2003 and earned the AL Comeback Player of the Year award for a solid 15-13 performance.
He pitched with the Mariners until 2006 when Bill Bavasi let him drop to free agency, I suppose because of worries about injury. Those anxieties, however, were unmerited, as Meche went on to have a couple more good years with the Kansas City Royals.
Despite ending his career with KC at a young age due to back and arm problems, Meche was in the Mariners organization for 10 strong years, earning the No. 7 spot in this list.
Freddy amassed a 17.4 WAR in his six years with the Mariners. He, too, was a part of the 2001 rotation, placing third in Cy Young voting that year.
He came in second to Carlos Beltran for the 1999 AL Rookie of the Year award, when he went 17-8 with a 4.05 ERA.
It's nice to see Freddy still pitching strong, but it's too bad he has to do it with the Yankees...
After being drafted in the second round by the Mariners in the 1981 draft, Mark Langston went on to pitch six successful seasons, finishing with a winning 74-67 record, a rare feat among Mariners starters.
He was the anchor of the rotation for a while, but unfortunately didn't get to see the team go anywhere because he left in 1989 for the Montreal Expos and, as previously mentioned, the Mariners didn't cut a winning season until 1991.
Jamie Moyer was one of the few who stuck around Seattle long enough to be permanently etched into its history. Moyer was never an overpowering pitcher, and he didn't rake in strikeouts like some others we've seen, but he was a strategist.
Moyer could manipulate the batters into doing exactly what he wanted, whatever suited the current situation. His less-than-aggressive pitching style allowed him to continue pitching deep into his 40s. Now, at 49, he's looking to make a comeback.
I'd bet the Mariners have already talked to him about a contract for 2012 while their youthful pitching staff develops. They most likely won't contend in 2012, so it will be a good final year (yes, the very last one) of rebuilding to work the rookies.
Having Moyer on the pitching staff would please the crowd and juxtapose a seasoned veteran with Pineda, Hultzen and Paxton which would result in a valuable learning experience.
Nope, sorry Felix, you aren't No. 1. You could be, though—if you stick with the Mariners for a little while longer.
The fact that Felix is second on the list of Mariners all-time starting pitchers speaks to his current necessity on the team. There's been talk of shipping him off to New York or Boston for some money and prospects, but Felix himself has shot it all down.
He has the potential to be the best Mariners pitcher ever if he remains in Seattle.
The Big Unit takes the cake here. His strikeout rate never dropped down from the stratosphere in his 10 years with the Mariners. He was reliable, consistent and always improving as a player.
It's too bad he had to go to the Arizona Diamondbacks, but at least he got a much-deserved World Series ring there. (Incidentally, between Seattle and Arizona, Johnson pitched 11 games for the Houston Astros, winning 10 of those games and striking out 116 with a 1.28 ERA.)
Randy won one Cy Young with the Mariners in the famed 1995 season, but he also won four straight Cy Youngs from 1999-2002 with the D-backs.
In my opinion, he should have been inducted into the Mariners' Baseball Hall of Fame since he is arguably the best pitcher of the modern era of baseball. I mean, it says a lot to be in company with Edgar Martinez, Jay Buhner, Alvin Davis and Dave Niehaus.