Midseason Mariner Report: Pitching

Seattle Hardball contributor Eric Yang looks at the Mariner pitching as we begin the second half of the season, and what needs to get better for the team to compete in the future.

The Seattle Mariners, once destined to compete at a high level this season, have been nearly the direct opposite, and stand as one of the poorest teams in baseball. The team has become one of the worst on the field especially in terms of hitting and fielding.

Injuries have made the Mariners worse than they look. Veteran stars like JJ Putz, Felix Hernandez, and Erik Bedard have been on the DL for an extended period of time. This has hurt in many ways on and off the field. Anytime you lose a closer who is proven and valuable it hurts your squad.

Remember the four game series in Baltimore? The M's had two of those games won, but the bullpen blew it because Putz was not there to shut the door. He is a valuable to the Mariners as Mariano Rivera is to the Yankees. It is just not the same without him no matter who takes his place. Brandon Morrow has been filling in with a mix of good and bad performances. However, he too is not the long term solution. Morrow is more suited to start and with the team where it is at, it wouldn't hurt to send him down to the minors and call him up in September to start a few games at the major league level.

The rest of the bullpen has had its ups and downs as well. Mark Lowe, who was expected to be a set-up man, has not done his job admirably. He has blown a few games and has a high ERA, but he's still not 100 percent healthy yet. Guys like Arthur Rhodes have been the same: one day he is good and another day he can't pitch. This is just like the last time he was a Marine, when he was unable to pitch well in back-to-back days. The rest of the guys have been shipped from Tacoma and back down.

The team's bad record also comes from highly publicized trade for Erik Bedard, who has been on the shelf for various parts of the season so far. He has been a tick better than average when on the field, but his performance has yet to validate this trade. He needs to pitch superbly in order to at least make fans feel better about this trade and perhaps drive up his trade value. Hernandez has also been on the DL for about three weeks and it made a bad situation worse. He was having a great season with an ERA under three. The better days for "The King" are ahead of him. Pitching in the bottom half of the rotation has been shaky and needs to be settled before the season is over. Number three starter Carlos Silva had a good first month of the season, going 2-0 with a sub-four ERA. Since then he has been a disaster, making this signing a bust. He has not pitched as expected and the M's are stuck with him for three more seasons. The same can be said about Miguel Batista, who won 16 games last year. This season he has lost more than ten games already. His nagging back and groin have also held him back.

Jarrod Washburn had a horrible start to the season but is now surprisingly rejuvenated. Over the last month or so, he has pitched consistently well and has raised his trade value. His velocity is up and his location is much better, making him more effective like he was with the Angels. If he can pitch like this, the M's can get some value back for him. National League teams like the Phillies may want him for the stretch run, or perhaps even the Yankees would be interested. For now, R.A Dickey has been inserted into the rotation and it has been like a box of chocolates. You really never know what you're going to get from him. One day he is absolutely dominating, and the other terrible. If he can ever control that knuckleball, he is an option as the fifth starter spot this year and possibly next year as well.

The rest of the season should determine who goes and who stays. Everyone should be fighting for their jobs, and there are no locks unless your name is Felix Hernandez. The faces will change, but as Mariner nation looks on, it's for the better.

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