Mariners Starters On A Roll To End All Rolls

Consider yourself jinxed, Jason Vargas.

Let’s take a look back, starting with yesterday’s dominating performance out of our ace:

  • Felix Hernandez:  8 IP, 6 hits, 1 ER, 0 walks, 13 strikeouts
  • Michael Pineda:  7 IP, 2 hits, 0 ER, 1 walk, 9 strikeouts
  • Erik Bedard:  8 IP, 3 hits, 0 ER, 2 walks, 9 strikeouts
  • Doug Fister:  8 IP, 6 hits, 1 ER, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts
  • Jason Vargas:  7 IP, 4 hits, 0 ER, 2 walks, 9 strikeouts
  • Felix Hernandez:  8 IP, 3 hits, 2 ER, 3 walks, 9 strikeouts
  • Michael Pineda: 7 IP, 3 hits, 0 ER, 0 walks, 7 strikeouts
  • Doug Fister:  8 IP, 4 hits, 2 ER, 1 walk, 6 strikeouts
  • Jason Vargas:  9 IP, 7 hits, 0 ER, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts

 What you’re looking at right there is an all-time great run of starting pitching.  At least since the advent of the 5-man rotation.  All going 7 innings or more, all giving up 2 runs or less.  One might think we’d be 9-0 in that situation, but that’s just a testament to our bad offense and inconsistent bullpen.  Nevertheless, we’re winning at an unheard of clip (for this team, anyway), and it’s all due to our starting rotation.

All five guys have an ERA under 4.  I’ll save the sabermetrics for the experts on other sites; all I know is when I look at the box score, that’s pretty impressive.  Pineda is leading the pack with a RIDICULOUS 2.16 ERA over 9 games.  He’s also leading the team with a 6-2 record and is first among starters with a 9.41 K/9 innings. 

So what’s the secret?  How could five very different pitchers with five very different skill sets be so dominant?  Well, I would look no further than the number of walks and the number of home runs we’ve given up.  Simultaneously keeping the ball IN the strike zone, but also not so in the strike zone that people are tattooing it.  Our K/BB rate is anywhere from 2:1 to 3:1 for all five guys.  And, as far as homers are concerned, Bedard is the high man with 7 dingers, but everyone else has given up either 3 or 4.  That’s pretty good, considering the number of innings these guys are going (and anyway, Bedard has looked MUCH better in the month of May, so maybe his total won’t rise quite so high as once thought).

This is almost EXACTLY the kind of team I like best.  Tons of pitching, low scoring games, games that regularly end in LESS than three hours.  But, it’s frustrating to see all this great pitching pretty much go to waste more often than not because our guys continue to fail to score runs.  This weekend’s series aside, we’re still scoring 3 runs or less WAY too often.

We can count on our starting pitchers to be our biggest asset, but we can’t count on them to continue the kind of roll they’ve been on in these last 9 games.  No rotation is THAT good, not over a full season (not even Philly’s).  At some point, the bats are going to have to figure it out.

I don’t necessarily love the idea of appreciating quality starts that end up in losses.

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