The 2013 Mariners starting rotation has been a study of unpredictability. Nevertheless, 2014 shows some promise on the hurling horizon for the dis-enchanted franchise.
Unreliable veterans Aaron Harang and Jeremy Bonderman are exiled from the Emerald City, as the team has lastly taken a look-see into the forthcoming this month, calling up 21-year-old phenom Taijuan Walker and top prospect James Paxton to make their corresponding MLB debuts. The outcomes couldn’t be much better. In two starts, Walker is 1-0 with a 3.60 ERA, while lefty Paxton detained Tampa Bay to one run in six innings of the Mariners’ 6-2 victory Saturday.
Furthermore, both Walker and Paxton have been power-driven, reaching the mid-to-high 90’s with their fastballs, which is to some degree what will continuously keep fans promised.
Barring any un-foreseen developments, Walker and Paxton ought to inhabit two spots in the Mariners’ rotation when 2014 starts up, piecing together ace Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma, who has probably been the best No. 2 in the American League in 2013. That raises a question: who will work the fifth spot in the rotation?
Many experts project that it will be Danny Hultzen, the last member of the Mariners’ “Big Three” of pitching prospects and the No. 2 overall pick in the 2011 MLB Draft, but the probability of him being MLB-ready by the start of next season has suffered some hits during the course of 2013. He’s had to manage shoulder problems all year, and though he threw three innings of a simulated game at Safeco Field previous to Saturday’s game, he managed to pitch just 35 2/3 innings in the minor leagues this season. He will head to the Instructional League and Arizona Fall League to continue to work on a refurbished arm motion, making it ever more probable he’ll start 2014 in the minors.
There are still quite a few other young arms the Mariners can turn to. Erasmo Ramirez, Brandon Maurer and Blake Beavan. Every one of those three have struggled in opportunities starting for Seattle this season, but the likelihoods of at least one piecing it together in time for next season is solid. However, the Mariners could always turn to the free-agent market to get one more past master pitcher to fill out the rotation, much like they did with Joe Saunders this year.
Whatsoever the case is for the No. 5 predicament, the Mariners’ rotation for 2014 already looks in much improved shape than the jerry-rigged 2013 rotation. Finally, it’s development by the franchise that fans can be heartened by.