With Drew Smyly out for the first six to eight weeks of the regular season, will Ariel Miranda pick up the slack in the rotation for the Seattle Mariners?
As reported by MLB.com’s Greg Johns, Smyly will miss time with a flexor strain. And while the elbow injury shouldn’t require surgery, he is expected to be out for between six to eight weeks.
Understandably, this is a frustrating blow for the Mariners, especially with it coming before the season has even started. Smyly was sensational in the World Baseball Classic and his absence is significant for a rotation already facing questions.
With the 27-year old out, his place as the fourth starter will be taken by Ariel Miranda. The question is, does the left-hander have what it takes to pick up the slack?
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In many ways, your response comes down to perspective. Along those lines, let’s start with the positive.
Miranda already has experience of pitching for the Mariners, having appeared in 11 games for them last season. More importantly, he started 10 times, after being traded from the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for Wade Miley.
Further, the 28-year old registered a 3.54 ERA in those 11 appearances, spread over 56 innings. Best of all, he had a win-loss record of 5-2, which the Mariners hope can be replicated during Smyly’s absence.
In terms of Miranda’s pitching arsenal, his main weapon is a fourseam fastball, which averages 93 mph. The pitch is most notable for its ability to generate more flyballs when compared to other pitchers, which is a vital asset.
Of course, this all sounds extremely promising. However, it’s only fair to offer some objectivity, by looking at the other side of the coin.
The main concern surrounding Miranda, arguably comes from an unimpressive spring training. He recorded a disappointing 6.14 ERA and generally struggled.
Further, as noted by MLB Trade Rumors, a look at the Cuba native’s peripheral stats from last season, provide less encouragment. Generall speaking, there is no denying he represents a step down from Smyly.
Overall though, the positives seem to outweigh the negatives. The main reason for this comes down to the aforementioned point that Miranda has already started in the Majors, and shown the ability to handle the pressure and win games.
One final point to make is that the Mariners are prepared for the worst case scenario of Miranda struggling in the rotation. After picking up the likes of Chris Heston and Dillon Overton during the offseason, Scott Servais has the luxury of other options.
What are your expectations for Miranda as Smyly’s replacement in the rotation? Further, what are your predictions for the Mariners’ rotation in general? Share your thoughts in the comments section.