2012 MLB Spring Training: Every Team's Pitcher on the Hot Seat This Season

Jeff Chase@@Real_Jeff_ChaseSenior Analyst IIMarch 20, 2012

2012 MLB Spring Training: Every Team's Pitcher on the Hot Seat This Season

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    With the regular season right around the corner, many teams are starting to get an idea of what their pitching rotations and bullpens are going to look like this coming season.

    Teams will go into the year with who they are comfortable with, but time may prove that they are not the right guys for the job.

    As the regular season gets going, each team will need to evaluate their talent and keep track of their prospects who are on the brink of a coveted roster spot.

Arizona Diamondbacks: Takashi Saito

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    Takashi Saito has never actually had a bad season, but his health has definitely been in question over the years.

    This past season, he only appeared in 30 games for the Milwaukee Brewers. While he did have an ERA of 2.03 in 26.2 innings, his time on the field wasn't promising.

    The Diamondbacks definitely took a gamble signing the 42-year-old, but they are not losing much if he ends up being sidelined once again.

    A great spring outing though could make this signing a steal. 

Atlanta Braves: Cristhian Martinez

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    The Atlanta Braves have an impressive farm system of pitchers and many of those studs are starting to emerge in the rotation and bullpen.

    With that said, there aren't a whole lot of guys on the hot seat as many are still in development, which leaves 30-year-old reliever Cristhian Martinez the odd man out.

    This past season, Martinez had an ERA of 3.36 in 77.2 innings. But that was coming off of a 2010 season of 4.85 in 26 innings.

    Martinez definitely still has the ability to be in the team's bullpen, but don't be surprised if the Braves consider giving one of their young guns a shot if he has struggles early in the season.

Baltimore Orioles: Jason Hammel

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    The Baltimore Orioles acquired Jason Hammel this offseason after he spent the last three years with the Colorado Rockies.

    From 2009-11, Hammel had ERAs of 4.33, 4.81 and 4.76, respectively. Those are not good numbers and there is no indication that he is going to cut down on them any time soon.

    He actually had two winning seasons in 2009 and 2010, but this past season he went 7-13 while recording only 94 strikeouts in 170.1 innings. 

    Hammel is currently sitting at third in the rotation, but the Orioles won't be afraid to yank him if he gets off to another bad start.

Boston Red Sox: Andrew Miller

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    It remains to be seen how the new Boston Red Sox will look in 2012. One pitcher who has yet to show signs of pro-level pitching is Andrew Miller.

    This past season, he appeared in just 17 games for the team—12 of those were starts. He had an ERA of 5.54 while striking out just 50 batters in 65 innings.

    Miller hasn't exactly had the best results in the MLB, as his career ERA stands at 5.79 through 359.1 innings.

    The team will start with him in the bullpen this season. If the opposition starts to light him up, he will like find himself without a roster spot in Beantown.

Chicago Cubs: Randy Wells

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    Once considered a rookie of the year candidate, Randy Wells hasn't show much improvement with the Chicago Cubs over the last few years.

    Wells may be on the outside looking in as the Cubs are beginning to rebuild. There are many young pitchers in the system who could their shot as the season starts to take shape.

    After Wells went 12-10 in 2009 with an ERA of 3.05, his numbers have began to slip. In the last two seasons, he has an overall recorded of 15-20 while having ERAs of 4.26 and 4.99 in 2010 and 2011, respectively.

    While Wells did play much of last season hurt, he may not have enough to keep himself relevant in the 2012 season.

Chicago White Sox: Jake Peavy

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    The Windy City hasn't been kind to Jake Peavy since he landed with the Chicago White Sox.

    When he first arrived, Peavy went 3-0 with an ERA of 1.35 to finish out the 2009 season. While everyone thought the party was just getting started, in reality it was ending.

    An injury-plagued Peavy didn't do well in his last two season, starting only 36 total games with an ERA of 4.63 in 2010 and 4.92 in 2011.

    The White Sox will be in a tough position considering Peavy is owed $17 million this season, so they just have to deal with it until their club option on him comes up for the 2013 season.

    At $22 million, one can assume they will pass on that.

Cincinnati Reds: Bronson Arroyo

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    It is really hard to imagine Bronson Arroyo being on the hot seat. But fact of the matter is he had a terrible season last year for the Cincinnati Reds and they are seriously considering converting Aroldis Chapman into a starter.

    The 2011 season was Arroyo's worst since joining the Reds in 2006 and they may be in trouble if he struggles yet again.

    Last season, he posted a record of 9-12 while having an ERA of 5.07 with just 108 strikeouts. Besides the record, those are all lows since becoming a Red.

    Arroyo is a fan favorite, so it would be hard to imagine them moving on from him. If he continues to struggle, he will likely continue to move down the rotation and could eventually find himself on the outside looking in.

Cleveland Indians: Derek Lowe

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    It will remain to be seen how Derek Lowe will do with the Cleveland Indians now that he is out of Atlanta. But if he struggles, the team may have no problem parting ways.

    Lowe is due $15 million this season, but the Indians are in for just $5 million as the Braves are covering the rest.

    Lowe hasn't been the same pitcher since leaving Los Angeles and there is no reason to believe he will be any different in Cleveland either.

    Last year he had a terrible season, going 9-17 with an ERA of 5.05. He recorded 137 strikeouts, which wasn't terrible, but the runs given up is just ugly.

    The Indians likely want to do all they can to contend, so they may have to take away Lowe's place in the rotation if he doesn't show any signs of the past.

Colorado Rockies: Jeremy Guthrie

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    There is no other way of saying it: the Colorado Rockies have a lot of questions marks surrounding their rotation and bullpen for the 2012 season.

    One guy who could be in trouble from the start is recently-acquired starting pitcher Jeremy Guthrie, who is coming off of an awful season with the Baltimore Orioles.

    In 2011, Guthrie went 9-17 while posting an ERA of 4.33 in 208 innings. The good thing? Well, he has thrown for over 200 innings in each of his last three seasons, as well as having 130 strikeouts in 2011.

    If he can't win games, and continues to let the opposition score in bunches, those two things will slowly become non-factors as the team will need to find another man to fill out their rotation.

Detroit Tigers: Jacob Turner

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    Jacob Turner will be a great pitcher, no doubt about it. Right now though, the 20-year-old sensation may not be ready to make the jump to the MLB quite yet.

    He made a brief appearance in the 2011 season, as he started three games for a total of 12.2 innings while recording an ERA of 8.53.

    Not exactly what you want to see and given his age, he just may not be ready. No reason to rush things, especially if the team plans on contending for a longtime to come.

    Turner will continue to get his shot this spring. But in the end, the team may be best to let him work his stuff in the minors for just a little longer.

Houston Astros: J.A. Happ

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    Is the whole team an option?

    Just kidding, but the Houston Astros are not looking very good as of now with their rotation and bullpen. That is because the team is still trying to figure out their future direction.

    One guy who is going to have to really show signs of his past is J.A. Happ, as the lefty is heading into some serious trouble with how things went in 2011.

    There is always a chance for a bounce back year. But after going 6-15 with an ERA of 5.35 in 2012, the Astros may decide down the line that it is time to the give the youngsters a shot.

    With the shape of the team right now, they really have nothing to lose in trying some stuff out to get an idea of their future.

    If Happ can surprise though, he will likely find himself in position to stick around at the end of the rotation for the rest of the year.

Kansas City Royals: Felipe Paulino

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    Felipe Paulino has been bouncing around the league for quite sometime, so he will need to impress to stick around in Kansas City this year.

    After joining the Royals last year in a trade from the Colorado Rockies, Paulino went 4-6 with an ERA of 4.11. That isn't terrible, but it doesn't really speak for his past performances.

    Just before last season, he went 1-9 with the Houston Astros, as he struggled to make anything happen in 19 games.

    Now, Paulino will have a chance to make his mark on a young Royals squad. With so much talent ready to move past him, he may not find his stay to be very long.

Los Angeles Angels: Michael Kohn

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    The Los Angeles Angles are pretty stacked in terms of pitching, which may be bad news for Michael Kohn. Especially if he has another season like his last.

    In 2011, Kohn dropped off from his 2010 season when he had an ERA of 2.11 in 21.1 innings while pitching in relief. He followed that up with a season where he only appeared in 12.1 innings while posting an ERA of 7.30.

    It will remain to be seen if Kohn even makes it out of camp in the team's bullpen, as the competition is only getting stronger in L.A.

Los Angeles Dodgers: Chris Capuano

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    The back end of the Dodgers' rotation has some question marks, as it will remain to be seen how Aaron Harang will play up North. More so, it will remain to be seen how Chris Capuano will play, as he becomes expendable with the addition of Harang.

    In 2011, Capuano went 11-12 with an ERA of 4.55 and while his wins were not terrible, it is the fact that he is giving up too many runs.

    That isn't likely going to change either as he continues to get older, but the fact that he is a lefty will keep him relevant.

    If Ted Lilly stays strong in the early goings though, the team may find it time to get Capuano out and give someone else a shot to anchor the rotation.

Miami Marlins: Carlos Zambrano

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    There is no way you can do a list on player who are on the hot seat without including Miami Marlins pitcher Carlos Zambrano, who is always on the hot seat.

    Coming to Miami, Zambrano will be playing his first season without the Chicago Cubs. The fact of the matter is, Zambrano is considered unstable and who knows how that will go with the unstable behavior of manager Ozzie Guillen.

    Guillen isn't afraid to speak his mind and if Zambrano starts out struggling, the fiery manager may already decide this experiment is over as soon as it began.

Milwaukee Brewers: Chris Narveson

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    Chris Narveson makes this list by committee, as he posted the worst numbers of the best staff last year for the Milwaukee Brewers.

    Last season, the team had a lot of strong contributors on the team and they have a few young pitchers on the cusp of entering the big leagues.

    Narveson, who anchors the rotation, had a record of 11-8 last season with an ERA of 4.45. The difference in these results should scare fans though, as the team last one of their biggest run producers in Prince Fielder to the Detroit Tigers. So who knows how far that 4.45 ERA will go this coming season.

    He will need to find a way to keep the runs off the board, otherwise that 11-8 record could quickly become something much worse.

Minnesota Twins: Jason Marquis

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    Jason Marquis has lasted in the league this long being mediocre at best. But he will be fighting this whole season to keep his spot at the end of the Minnesota Twins' rotation.

    Marquis played for both the Washington Nationals and Arizona Diamondbacks this past season, but he greatly struggled with the trade.

    Despite the small sample number of three starts, Marquis most recent games in a regular season are comprised of 11.1 innings that resulted in an overall ERA of 9.53.

    As stated, Marquis has a little bit to prove. But if he can continue to be mediocre versus terrible, he could find some way to stick around in 2012.

New York Mets: Johan Santana

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    After missing the entire 2011 season, Johan Santana's New York Mets career is on the line in 2012.

    Santana hasn't exactly been the shutdown pitcher he was with the Minnesota Twins as of late, but he actually posted good numbers in 2010.

    That season, he started 29 games as he went 11-9 with an ERA of 2.98 through 199 innings.

    That was better than what he did in 2009, but it still wasn't what we were all expecting. Now, Santana must play to his potential.

    If he gets rocked in the early goings, the Mets may have no other choice than to move on.

New York Yankees: Joba Chamberlain

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    Joba Chamberlain won't be hitting the field till around June this season after coming off of Tommy John surgery this past year. Many will be watching his progress.

    The New York Yankees have bounced back-and-forth between having Chamberlain in the bullpen and rotation. As of now it looks like he will be permanently used in relief and it remains to be seen how his arm will hold up post-surgery.

    Chamberlain actually had phenomenal numbers last season just coming out of the bullpen, as he posted an ERA of 2.83 in 28.2 innings.

    Question is, will he be the same once he comes back?

Oakland Athletics: Dallas Braden

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    After missing all but three games of the 2011 season, Oakland A's starter Dallas Braden has much to prove in his turn this year.

    Sure, he pitched a perfect game back in 2010, but there is no guarantee he will return anywhere near to that form.

    The most discouraging part of the situation is that SFgate.com's Jason Shea says the surgery that Braden had was similar to that of Johan Santana's surgery.

    The A's said Braden's surgery was to be similar to Johan Santana's in September, and the Mets lefty remains on the disabled list and might not pitch again until July. Do the A's fear Braden might be shelved when the 2012 season opens? 

    Well, all they can hope is they won't have to deal with the same once the season gets underway.

Philadelphia Phillies: Joe Blanton

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    Joe Blanton definitely benefited by the departure of Roy Oswalt, but he still has much to prove if he plans on staying relevant for the 2012 season.

    Last year for the Philadelphia Phillies, Blanton went 1-2 in eight starts for the team, as he posted an ERA of 5.01. While he did have 35 strikeouts, his season was cut short after he experienced an injury.

    With the Phillies having so much depth and strength in the front of their rotation, Blanton may eventually be a trade-chip for teams looking to acquire some talent to fill out their staff this season.

Pittsburgh Pirates: Erik Bedard

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    Once A.J. Burnett returns for injury, somebody is likely going to have to move out of the rotation. Given his age and history, the likely candidate would be Erik Bedard.

    While the team did give Bedard a one-year, $4.5 million deal this offseason, there is no guarantee that he is going to perform as expected.

    Between 24 starts with the Mariners and Red Sox last season, Bedard went 5-9 with an ERA of 3.62. The ERA is promising, but after missing the entire 2010 season, his pending results are still extremely questionable.

    Given the talent level in the NL Central, he may just be able to see good results once again.

San Diego Padres: Dustin Moseley

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    In 20 starts last season, Dustin Moseley went 3-10 with an ERA of 3.30 in 120 innings for the San Diego Padres.

    Moseley has never had much success over the course of his career and with the acquisition of Andrew Cashner from the Chicago Cubs, his chances of remaining in the starting rotation are running slim.

    The Padres will need all the pitching they can get after they lost Aaron Harang this offseason, but Moseley may not exactly have the stuff that will keep him in the rotation as the season starts to get rolling.

    Cashner also has to stay healthy. If he can, the team may have no other decision than to swap the two.

San Francisco Giants: Barry Zito

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    The status of Barry Zito is up in the air every season and this one likely will be on different. 

    Zito clearly hasn't been the pitcher the San Francisco Giants expected when they signed him away from the Oakland A's for the 2007 season.

    This past season was the worst of them all, as he compiled a career high ERA of 5.87 in just 13 games. He only won three games and was clearly not all there.

    Zito will look to bounce back this season. But with another setback, that could be about it for him in San Francisco.

Seattle Mariners: George Sherrill

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    George Sherrill can either be a very good pitcher or he can get lit up. With the Atlanta Braves last season, he was decent as he only allowed 12 runs in 36 innings.

    It will remain to be seen if he will perform like that for the Seattle Mariners next season or if he will turn out to be the inconsistent reliever he was with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2010.

    That year, he had a 6.69 ERA in 36.1 innings. 

    Sherrill will continue to get his shot. But considering his age, he is quite expendable in Seattle.

St. Louis Cardinals: Mitchell Boggs

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    The St. Louis Cardinals actually look pretty solid head-to-toe with their pitchers, so Mitchell Boggs lands on here by committee.

    Boggs didn't have bad numbers in relief last year, as he had 48 strikeouts in 50.2 innings. His ERA has moved into the right direction reaching a career best of 3.56, but there is still question marks surrounding him.

    He did close a few games last season, so he could be a good guy to keep around in case they need to change things up at the end of the game ever.

Tampa Bay Rays: J.P. Howell

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    J.P. Howell returned to the Tampa Bay Rays in 2011 and it wasn't how the team expected him to be.

    After posting a 2.84 ERA in 66.2 innings for the 2009 season, Howell only pitched 30.2 innings with an ERA of 6.16 in his return.

    That just isn't going to cut it, especially with the club having plenty of options in the farm system waiting for a call-up.

    If Howell continues to play like that this season, the Rays may have to eventually show the once-promising reliever the door.

Texas Rangers: Joe Nathan

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    After the Texas Rangers lost C.J. Wilson to the Los Angeles Angels this offseason, the team has been retooling their roster.

    One of those changes was to take Neftali Feliz from the closer role into a starter, which made offseason acquisition Joe Nathan the new closer.

    Nathan was not good in 2011 and there is no guarantee that he will return to his old form in 2012. If he starts to struggle early like he did last year with the the Minnesota Twins, the Rangers may be scrambling to switch Feliz back to closing or finding another answer.

Toronto Blue Jays: Dustin McGowan

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    Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Dustin McGowan is coming off of a shoulder injury this past season, one that required surgery.

    McGowan has never stood out to be a stud on the diamond, but his numbers last season were quite discouraging.

    Even though he didn't have time to prove himself, McGowan had an ERA of 6.43 in just 21.0 innings. The two previous seasons he threw for over 100 innings and he was coming off of Tommy John surgery.

    McGowan will likely be given some time to prove if he has bounced back or not, but it is a question of how long the team will give him till they make their next move.

Washington Nationals: Chien-Ming Wang

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    While the Washington Nationals are building themselves quite a rotation, there may be no room for Chien-Ming Wang once he is healthy.

    Wang didn't see great numbers during his last year with the Yankees in 2009, as he battled injuries, and didn't come back strong either once he finally returned to the majors with the Nats in 2011.

    The Nationals may ultimately decide the experiment is over, as they will move on with their younger pitchers that they have acquired and developed.