The 2003 Mariners: Starting Pitchers

The Mariners failed to add any new pitchers during the offseason to bolster the rotation, and awarded the final two spots to Ryan Franklin and Gil Meche. Against teams in the AL West as strong as Oakland and Anaheim, will the Mariners pitching hold up? Here's a look at each of the starting five.

Freddy Garcia:

"The Chief" looks to rebound this season after a disappointing second half of 2002. Garcia earned his second consecutive All-Star nomination last season but followed it by going 5-5 with a 5.66 ERA the rest of the way. His performance last season followed a spectacular 2001 campaign in which he led the American League in ERA. Acquired back in 1998 for Randy Johnson, Garcia has blossomed into a top-line starter and has posted over 16 victories in each of his last three seasons. The Mariners are looking for him to take his game to the next level this season and become a legitimate number one starter. There will be added pressure on Garcia this season to stabilize the starting rotation, as the Mariners are thinner on staring pitchers than they have been in recent years.

Jamie Moyer:

Moyer continues to elude father time as he posted his sixth-consecutive season with over 13 victories in 2002. He finished among the top 10 in the American League in ERA, starts, innings and opponent batting average. Coming off a 20 win season in 2001, Moyer actually pitched better in 2002 but lacked the same run support. Moyer will be 40 entering this season but that didn't stop the Mariners from signing him in the off-season to a 3-year contract. He has shown his durability by throwing over 200 innings in four of the last years. His ability to change speeds and pinpoint control will allow Moyer to continue his successful run with the Mariners in 2003. Moyer was acquired in 1996 from the Red Sox in one of the M's finest trades, getting the soft-tosser for Darren Bragg.

Joel Pineiro:

After starting the 2002 season in the bullpen, Pineiro blossomed after being moved to the starting rotation. Despite missing a month of starts, he was still able to post 14 victories along with along with a 3.24 ERA, good enough for 8th in the AL. At 24 years old, the Mariners look for him to be a cornerstone of their rotation for years to come. In just his first full season, he was named the M's most valuable pitcher by the Seattle BBWAA. Drafted by the Mariners in 1997, Pineiro is the most successful pitcher brought up in their organization in the last decade. The Mariners look for him to continue his development in 2003, and with his electric stuff he has the potential to be the future ace of the staff.

Ryan Franklin:

Finally got his wish in 2002 as he was moved into the starting rotation late in the season. Franklin had spent the better part of the last two years working out of the bullpen in a long relievers role. He has been his own worst enemy as he success as a reliever made the Mariners reluctant to make him a starter. Franklin didn't disappoint in his first opportunity as a starter, as he posted a 4-5 record with a 3.91 ERA in 12 starts. He will begin the 2003 season as the 5th starter. During parts of the season when the 5th starter is not needed, Franklin will work out of the bullpen until his next start. Franklin has spent his entire career in the Mariners organization since being taken in the 1992 draft.

Gil Meche:

The sky was the limit for Meche when he busted into the big leagues back in 2000. He blew away major league hitters with a fastball and froze them with his changeup. Then just as quick as his star had ascended it began to fade away amidst a series of injuries. Now two years later he is back in the big leagues as the 5th starter for the M's. He is not the same pitcher that he was before the injuries but at age 24 he still possesses enough talent to succeed at the big-league level. He spent last year in Double-A San Antonio with mixed results, the most important being that he stayed away from injuries. The Mariners are looking for Meche to continue his progress into the 2003 season and eventually become the ace they all expected a few years back when they made him a first-round draft pick.

Scott Smiles is a life-long baseball fan and 2002 graduate of the University of Washington. He can be reached at scottjsmiles@hotmail.com.


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