Seattle Mariners starting rotation questions haven’t been completely answered during the 2017 MLB off-season. Many sites have released projections and predictions about the five pitchers who will make up the Mariners’ starting rotation, though, giving fans a lot to debate before Spring Training finally rolls around. A new report by CBS Sports predicts that Nathan Karns and Ariel Miranda will round out the rotation, following Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma, and James Paxton in the order.
The Mariners also made trades to acquire Chris Heston from the San Francisco Giants and Rob Whalen from the Atlanta Braves. Both starting pitchers are expected to get a chance during Spring Training to win one of the backend slots. It would be putting things mildly to state that this is not a road-tested starting rotation, especially after the team traded Taijuan Walker to the Arizona Diamondbacks. That deal brought over shortstop Jean Segura, who should see a lot of time as the leadoff hitter in 2017.
Gone from the 2016 Seattle Mariners starting rotation are the 25 starts by Taijuan Walker, the 19 starts by Wade Miley, and the eight starts by Wade LeBlanc. Walker is now with the Arizona Diamondbacks, Miley is with the Baltimore Orioles, and LeBlanc is with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Other pitchers who saw starts during the 2016 MLB season who are unlikely to return to the rotation include Mike Montgomery (Chicago Cubs), Vidal Nuno (Los Angeles Dodgers), Cody Martin, Joe Wieland, and Adrian Sampson.
2016 Seattle Mariners Starting Rotation Stats
Hisashi Iwakuma — 33 starts, 16-12, 4.12 ERA, 1.327 WHIP
Felix Hernandez — 25 starts, 11-8, 3.82 ERA, 1.324 WHIP
James Paxton — 20 starts, 6-7, 3.79 ERA, 1.306 WHIP
Nathan Karns — 15 starts, 6-2, 5.15 ERA, 1.484 WHIP
Ariel Miranda — 10 starts, 5-2, 3.54 ERA, 1.089 WHIP
Chris Heston (2015 with Giants) — 31 starts, 12-11, 3.95 ERA, 1.311 WHIP
Rob Whalen (2016 with Braves) — five starts, 1-2, 6.57 ERA, 1.297 WHIP
One of the big questions for the Mariners is how Chris Heston will look during Spring Training. The Mariners acquired him from the San Francisco Giants in exchange for a player to be named later. He was an important component of the Giants’ starting rotation during the 2015 MLB season, posting a 3.95 ERA over 31 starts. Last season, he dealt with injuries and extended time in Triple-A, appearing in only four games as a relief pitcher for the Giants. He did start 15 games for Sacramento in the PCL, posting a 4.54 ERA in 81-and-a-third innings of work.
At some point, Rob Whalen is also expected to become a permanent member of the Seattle Mariners starting rotation. He was called up late in the 2016 MLB season to pitch for the Atlanta Braves, but only saw a brief amount of time on the mound. He will battle for a spot on the 25-man roster for Seattle this spring, but fans shouldn’t be surprised if he ends up beginning the season with the Tacoma Rainiers.
Another interesting pitcher to watch this spring is Ariel Miranda, who pitched brilliantly after being acquired from the Baltimore Orioles for Wade Miley. Miranda appeared in 11 games (10 starts), posting a 3.54 ERA, and 1.089 WHIP over 56 innings pitched. He was actually one of the best pitchers on the staff in the final months of the regular season, showing that he might have a bright future with the franchise. Expect Miranda to get a long look for one of the final two slots in the starting rotation during Spring Training.
For the Mariners to find success in the 2017 MLB season, the team needs to receive good performances from not just Felix Hernandez, but from left-hander James Paxton as well. After four seasons of getting his “feet wet” in Major League Baseball, it is time for Paxton to fulfill his potential. The most innings that Paxton has pitched in one season is 121, but the Mariners will need much more from him to contend in an improved American League West. It’s an understatement to say there are still questions about the Seattle Mariner starting rotation, so Spring Training could be very interesting this year.
[Featured Image by Otto Greule Jr./Getty Images]