Seattle Mariners' starting rotation questions still plague the team during Spring Training. The Mariners have several pitchers competing for a spot in the 2016 starting rotation, but some of the stats getting put up in Spring Training have not been flattering. Through 19 games in Arizona, the starting pitchers for the Mariners have a 5.83 ERA and 1.59 WHIP. This certainly isn't what newly-hired manager Scott Servais wanted to see from his team in March.
It's easy to make an excuse that the Seattle Mariners starting rotation is only struggling because it is Spring Training and that this doesn't mean the team will continue pitching badly in the regular season. It's important to point out, though, that teams with strong rotations like the Washington Nationals and Chicago Cubs aren't going through those same struggles. This could make it difficult for the Mariners to settle on five starting pitchers when Opening Day draws closer.
Mike Montgomery has the best results from the Seattle Mariners starting pitchers this spring. Though he has only made one start, he allowed no runs and just two hits over three innings of work. The only other starting pitcher with an ERA below the 5.40 of Wade Miley belongs to Nathan Karns. Karns has started four games and pitched 13-and-two-thirds innings during Spring Training. During that time is has an ERA of 3.29, a WHIP of 1.32, and opponents are hitting 0.271 against him. As for Miley, he has pitched five innings over two starts, posting a 5.40 ERA and 1.20 WHIP.
Hisashi Iwakuma has made three spring starts, posting a 5.87 ERA and 1.43 WHIP over 7-and-two-thirds innings of work. Taijuan Walker has pitched 8-and-one-third innings over three starts as well, with an ERA of 6.48 and a WHIP of 1.56. In just one spring start, Felix Hernandez has an 11.57 ERA and 3.00 EHIP in 2-and-one-third innings of work. The pitcher who has struggled the most, though, is left-hander James Paxton. Paxton has only lasted 11 innings in his four starts, giving up 21 base runners and 12 runs. Paxton now has an ERA of 9.00 and a WHIP of 1.91 this spring.
Though the Seattle Mariners starting rotation has not looked good during Spring Training, there is some small good news that is coming out of Arizona. Three other American League West teams have worse numbers than the Mariners so far. The Texas Rangers have a 6.07 ERA and 1.91 WHIP, the Los Angeles Angels are at a 6.43 ERA and 1.59 WHIP, and the Oakland Athletics have a 6.65 ERA and 1.68 WHIP from their starting pitcher. The Houston Astros lead the pack with a 3.94 ERA and 1.33 WHIP thus far. Again, these are all just Spring Training numbers, but it could also be indicative of a problem with the team.
So who will make the Seattle Mariners' starting rotation for the 2016 MLB season? The only guaranteed names are Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma. The pitchers with an inside track are Wade Miley and Taijuan Walker, leaving the fifth spot as an open competition. Based on the early Spring Training numbers, Nathan Karns seems to be the favorite. Mike Montgomery has been used out of the bullpen, suggesting that the team could move him there during the regular season. With the struggles that James Paxton has been having he too could see time in the bullpen unless he gets optioned back to Triple-A Tacoma.
As previously reported by The Inquisitr, there are a lot of players on the roster that have struggled during Spring Training. It leaves a lot of question marks about how the 25-man roster could look, but it got a bit easier to predict when catcher Mike Zunino and outfielder Boog Powell were demoted on March 18. With a 9-8 record in Arizona, the outlook for the Seattle Mariners isn't exactly horrible. The team will need its starting pitching to go deeper into games during the 2016 MLB season, though, as the bullpen will have a host of faces trying to keep their new jobs.
[Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images]