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Garrett Olson and Ryan Rowland Smith Locks for Seattle Mariners Rotation

NFL News And RumorsAnalyst IJuly 14, 2009

The Mariners made a necessary move this week, sending struggling pitcher Brandon Morrow down to AAA Tacoma after his disappointing start in the 6-4 loss to the Texas Rangers.

With pitcher Jason Vargas also being sent down earlier in the week, pitcher Garrett Olson now appears to be a lock for the starting rotation at either the No. 4 or No. 5 slot. With his prime competition for the back end of the rotation now demoted, this is a vote of confidence in Olson.

He has been decent so far in his Mariners tenure, going 3-2 with a 4.42 ERA, and holding batters to a .235 AVG against him.

After Olson there is still one spot left in the rotation in either the No. 4 or 5 slot, depending on where they plug in Olson.

The most logical candidate with the roster moves made recently appears to be Ryan Rowland Smith, who should be healthy after the All Star break. He has been rehabbing in Tacoma for the past month

Miguel Batista has starting experience, but with a 5-2 record and a 3.13 ERA in the bullpen, he seems to be better suited for that role.

Entering an important stretch in the Mariners season, this is how their Starting Pitching Staff rounds out.

1. Felix Hernandez: 9-3 2.53 ERA, 121 strikeouts, Opponent Batting average, .228

2. Erik Bedard: 5-2, 2.57 ERA, 73 SO, Opponent BA, .217

3. Jarrod Washburn: 5-6, 69 SO, Opponents BA, .230

4. Ryan Rowland Smith (Career): 6-3, 3.48 ERA, 120 SO, Opponent BA, .257

5. Garrett Olson: 3-2, 4.42 ERA, 33 SO, Opponent BA, .235

And by the way, do not be fooled by Washburns' record; he has pitched lights out this season. When you garner the second lowest run support in baseball over the past four years, it's bound to take a significant toll on your record.

The Mariners are entering a critical junction in their season, if Olson can lower that ERA a tad, it could coast them into the postseason barring any devastating injuries.

If the Mariners "buy" at the Trade Deadline and pick up a couple bats it will take a sizeable amount of pressure off of this pitching staff. That will only make it easier on this team as a whole and distribute things more evenly.

Pirates All Star second baseman Freddy Sanchez has been linked to the Mariners in trade rumors, as has teammate SS Jack Wilson.

Colorado Rockies third baseman Garrett Atkins has also been of rumored interest. A straight swap of Miguel Batista for Atkins has been circulating, but nothing has been formally announced yet.

Kevin Kouzmanoff has also been a rumor floating around. 

From what the rumors have been, it would lead you to believe the Mariners are going after INF in light of Beltre's injury and Betancourt's departure. (Yes!) It is all a matter of who and when they acquire to assume the starting duties. Third baseman Chris Woodward and shortstop Ronny Cedeno have been solid, but they are not the solutions for the long haul.

The Mariners did make a trade involving a 3B, acquiring Ryan Hannahan from the Oakland Athletics in exchange for AA pitcher Justin Souza.

He is likely nothing more than a backup player for the Mariners so we should still see more activity on the trade front regarding the INF. He is a defensive specialist though, having posted the second best fielding percentage among third base players in MLB last season.

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