Here's a preview of what will make up the Mariners' starting rotation next year. We're hoping that Erik Bedard will be able to start the season, so this post will assume that he starts the season healthy.
Projection Source: Bill James
1. Felix Hernandez
2008 Stats: 9-11, 3.45 ERA, 175SO
2009 Projections: 11-12, 3.86 ERA, 188SO
Felix has yet to have his "coming-out" season. In his three full seasons, Felix has yet to see considerable improvement. Is this a disturbing trend? Yes. I think a lot of people will agree with me here; Felix has the potential to be an "ace," but has yet to live up to it.
Some have even cited terrible mechanics to this lack of improvement. However, I believe he's becoming a lot smarter with the pitches he's throwing. Last season he threw a lot of unnecessary pitches when a nice fastball would have done the trick.
That curve ball is deadly but it should only be used as the knockout pitch, not necessarily as the one to throw for strikes. Could 2009 be a change for Felix? Hopefully. I'm getting just a tad-bit tired of waiting for the beast to be unleashed out into super stardom.
2. Erik Bedard
2008 Stats: 6-4, 3.67 ERA, 72SO
2009 Projections: 5-5, 3.72 ERA, 86SO
The product of one of the worst trades ever, it's disappointing knowing that Mariner fans might never get to see Bedard at his full potential. Several injures hounded Bedard throughout last season, and for the 2009 season, he'll be entering with a rehabilitated shoulder.
He won't be 100 percent, which means it will be hard for the Mariners to trade him at the trading deadline or even in this offseason. When he's healthy, he's one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball.
If there is any glimpse of progress, Zduriencik should consider signing him to like a three-year contract or something similar. The Mariners can't commit to much, but should keep their options open.
3. Ryan Rowland-Smith
2008 Stats: 5-3, 4.26 ERA, 77SO
2009 Projections: 7-10, 4.26 ERA, 135SO
I love this Aussie! Sure he's no Felix, but he's young and he's a solid, durable arm. Best of all, he's consistent. You know the kind of production you're going to get from this guy. He's going to keep you in ball games and give you a chance to win when he takes the mound.
Hopefully he will see some improvement from last year, as he'll spend the full year as a starter, as opposed to last season where he was in the bullpen for the start of the season.
4. Carlos Silva
2008 Stats: 4-15, 6.46 ERA, 69SO
2009 Projections: 6-11, 4.91 ERA, 63SO
Carlos Silva is bad, but not nearly as bad as his stats indicate. His terrible record directly correlates with his terrible run support and his terrible ERA correlates with the Mariners' terrible defense. Next year, I predict that Silva is going to surprise a lot of casual fans.
If Zduriencik succeeds at improving the infield defense, especially the middle infield, than Silva will thrive. Here's to a turnaround season for Silva in 2009!
5. Brandon Morrow
2008 Stats: 3-4, 3.34 ERA, 75SO
2009 Projections: 8-8, 3.84 ERA, 155SO
Besides Felix, Morrow is probably the most valuable player on this whole team. He has a high ceiling and can catapult to the third best pitcher on the Mariner's with a solid first half.
You got to wonder, if this guy can almost no-hit the Yankees in his first start after pitching the bullpen for the majority of the season, what can he do when he is used to being the starting pitcher?
He needs to develop his other pitches named not a fastball, but when he does that he has a chance to go Felix-status.
photo source: [nytimes]
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