In case you missed it yesterday, here are some random thoughts on some random hitters. Today, we’ll dig into some random thoughts on some random pitchers, which is significantly more problematic, because we’re talking about an even smaller sample size. Also, not for nothing, but this WBC thing is throwing everything off. I mean, go Dominican Republic and everything, but tell me when this is over so we can focus on getting the Mariners back into the post-season!
It’s also difficult to formulate an opinion on the pitchers because by and large the pitchers getting the most appearances are the guys least likely to stick with the Big League club. I’m more interested in the guys who will actually be Mariners this year, so let’s talk about some of them.
Probably the guy generating the most interest is Felix. This is also probably the guy who will be toughest to predict heading into the regular season. The King is the epitome of a veteran just getting his work in. He got a jump on matters, as he was preparing to play in the WBC this year. His two spring starts were pretty mediocre, and he followed that up with a mediocre start in his first WBC appearance for Venezuela, going 2.2 innings, giving up 2 runs, 1 earned, while striking out 3 and walking 2. Tough to say if the lack of command is a holdover from a year ago, or just part of ramping up for the season ahead, but you can’t say he was “just getting his work in” in this case. I have to imagine if Felix is going to participate in the WBC, he’s going to be trying his hardest. In which case, maybe we should be a little nervous? We’ll see how he looks in his next outing. For what it’s worth, there’s been a slight uptick in his velocity by about 1 mph, which would be great if that continues, as he generally sees his velocity increase as the season goes along.
Sticking with the WBC guys, let’s look at Yovani Gallardo next. His first appearance in Spring Training was something of a disaster, giving up 4 runs in 1 inning of work, but he followed that up with a nice 3-inning, 1-hit, no-runs appearance before going off to play for Mexico. In his lone start in the WBC, he went 4 innings, giving up 4 runs on 3 homers. He did strike out 5 while walking 0, so while it’s not anything to write home about, I’m also not ready to write him off either.
It’s my understanding that Drew Smyly hasn’t appeared in the WBC yet, but he’s set to go this week. Either way, in two Spring Training starts, he’s yet to give up a run over 5 innings, so that’s really promising. Paxton’s numbers are a little less encouraging from a pure runs perspective, but he’s got 7 K’s to 1 walk in his 5 innings of work thus far. He also looks better than he did at this time last year, which is important because he started out the regular season last year in Tacoma.
Of course, I had to pick today to write about the pitchers, a day after the single worst pitching performance of the entire spring in losing 24-3 to the Brewers. Hisashi Iwakuma was no small part in yesterday’s “effort”, giving up 7 runs in 2.2 innings. One start prior to that, he gave up 0 runs in 2 innings. And, in his first spring start, he gave up 1 run in 2 innings. All in all, I don’t think you take much away from a start like yesterday’s or Spring Training in general when it comes to Kuma. He is who he is. Sometimes that’s dominating, sometimes that’s terrible.
As for the bullpen, Edwin Diaz has yet to give up a run in 2 appearances with the Mariners and 1 with Puerto Rico. A lot of the younger guys slated to start in the minors are putting up some bonkers numbers as well. That’s probably important, because some of our veteran guys are looking pretty crappy thus far. Nick Vincent has given up runs in each of his three appearances so far. Marc Rzepczynski had a disasterous first appearance before settling down for 3 scoreless appearances. Dan Altavilla’s overall numbers are hampered by one bad inning as well. And, Ariel Miranda was cruising right along until he hit a speedbump over the weekend. There is a lot to like about what Scribner has brought to the table, though.
Again, you really can’t learn a whole lot about a pitching staff after 3 appearances apiece, so consider this to be a VERY premature look at some of the guys we’ll be counting upon in the regular season. By the end of the month, hopefully things will round into shape and we’ll have a good idea of what we’ve got with this team.