Listed at +4000 on the MLB odds boards, the Seattle Mariners are longshots to win the win the World Series, but we've seen teams that have had no chance, do the impossible.
Loyal To the Team Or All About Money?
Felix Hernandez has been a member of the Mariners for about a decade now and I've always wondered why he hasn't requested a trade. We're talking about the best pitcher in the American League over this span of time.
For his career, Hernandez possesses a sizzling 3.11 ERA and his overall record is 143-101. On a better team, his record would be much better and quite frankly I might want to blame the Mariners defense a bit also as I thought that his career ERA was in the 2's.
Hernandez will be turning 30 years old in April and is still in the prime of his career. He hasn't been overworked due to the post-season because he never gets to play in the post-season. I'm being a bit sarcastic, but this is a spectacular, consistent pitcher in a hard-hitting American League and a legitimate ace.
Last season. King Felix continued to be consistent as he was 18-9 with a 3.53 ERA. He had 191 K's in 201 2/3 innings. We have to remember the team that he plays on. If he's on a winning ball club, he's a consistent 20 game winner. King Felix is the heart of this baseball team and they pay him accordingly and we'll keep seeing him produce as he's an imposing figure on the mound.
Iwakuma makes for a solid #2 guy on this pitching staff. In an abbreviated 2015, he was 9-5 with a 3.54 ERA. His career number proves that he's the real deal with a 47-25 record and a 3.17 ERA. Iwakuma is 34 years old and occasionally, Japanese imports are over-hyped and are very experienced. In this case, Iwakuma isn't over-hyped, but he's not some 20 year old youngster coming over from Japan.
Last season, opposing hitters hit .240 off of Iwakuma, but this is a guy that get's the timely strikeout and keeps Seattle in the game.
If he can get a full season under his belt, I expect him to have a huge season and when you have a team with Nelson Cruz and Robinson Cano on it offensively, this team could come up and surprise people. As for Iwakuma, he's the perfect complimentary #2 pitcher behind The King.
Much Needed Youth
Taijuan Walker fits in well as the number 3 pitcher on this team at just 23 years of age. He's massive in size and will strikeout nearly a batter per inning, but his issue is keeping the ball in the ball park.
Last season, Walker was 11-8 with a 4.56 ERA while allowing hitters to hit nearly a hit per inning off him. Those last 2 categories are a bit high, but we have to remember that he's young and will only get better. He's never going to be considered an elite Major League pitcher, but Walker can carve out a nice career for himself. 2016 provides the opportunity as he should get some run support. The rest is up to him.
Secure at Number Four
I like former Arizona Diamondback pitcher, Wade Miley in this spot. His numbers are average, but he's a pitcher that can put up some big performances and he has experience and will provide 200 solid innings and every team needs a starting pitcher who can eat up innings to alleviate having an overworked bullpen.
Last season, Miley was 11-11with a 4.46 ERA and I think we're going to see more of the same. He doesn't excel where strikeouts and allowing hits are concerned, but he'll keep a team in the game and that's all that the Mariners can expect from the latter half of their pitching staff. If he's a couple of games above .500 with an ERA slightly under 4.00, it's gravy and a possibility.
With 30 career starts and the #63 on the back of his uniform,starter James Paxton is relatively untested, but thus far, he possesses a 12-8 record with a 3.16 ERA for his career and those numbers are more than acceptable. Last season he tailed off, but if given a full season, he appears to fit in well in this spot.
A team can never have enough left-handers and I expect this left-hander to fit into this rotation as the pressure isn't really on him. Look for Paxton to pitch well and hope for run support.
This is a solid pitching rotation with a nice mix of experience, youth, and more importantly, talent. The Mariners also have some threats on offense; namely Nelson Cruz and Robinson Cano. That said, this isn't Yankee Stadium and Cano found that out quickly as he could have easily had a hall of fame career with a plaque in Monument Park at Yankee Stadium. Instead, he took the money and things will be tougher.
Seattle could surprise some people, but they're listed at +4000 on the MLB odds boards for a reason. A future bet here is like throwing money in the local trash can -- there are better MLB picks out there.