Rotation Free-for-All

The 6-10 starters beat the 1977 M's rotation



So, tactically, here's what SSI is watching for in March:


=== Jeremy Bonderman ===

Tactically, we're watching for a freshly-minted willingness to mix his pitches less predictably.

Bonderman probably has less "pitchability" than any starter in the major leagues, and he has the career ERA-xFIP to show for it.  

With his hard swerveball, and his dancing slider, he should have had a career ERA+ of 110.  Instead, it's been 90.  He's the Brandon League of starting pitchers, coming in with the same 2-0 and 3-1 pitches time after time.  He's always stubbornly refused to change .... but he's had two years away from the game, and maybe he's a listener now.

Who knows.  We're just telling you what we're watching for.


=== Jon Garland ===

He won 10-18 games a year, racking up 200 innings per, for what, the entire decade of the '00's?  With ERA's around 105-110.   He ran Joe Saunders peripherals from stem-to-stern ... Saunders has a 103 ERA+ liftime, compared to Garland's 104.  They both get 5 strikeouts, 2+ walks, average HR rate.  Garland has been, functionally, a tall, pretty, right hand Joe Saunders.

Garland's coming off almost two years out and shoulder surgery.  Supposing he came back 100% and gave you a second Joe Saunders.  Would you want that?

Well, a 105 ERA+ isn't much for a #2 starter.  It is boring for a #3 starter.  But it's one whale of a #4 starter, and it's a championship #5 starter.

The tactical question is easy.  Is he all the way back from shoulder surgery, not only in velocity but in pinpoint location.


=== Blake Beavan ===

Tactically:  does he now have a forkball?

Kidding.  Remember now, he's one of baseball's finest pitchers right up until the point where the ump calls strike two.  And then he can't put away a hitter if his mother's kitty cat depended on it.

A putaway pitch?  His career, never mind his 2013, will depend on it.  

It could happen.


=== The Big Four ===

Paxton:  the front knee and the decel.  Gordon has talked about the fact that the Gio's and Kershaw's of the game are welcome to walk 4-5 men as rookies, for any organization other than the Seattle Mariners.

But even Dr. D wants to see that decel smoothed out.  Who knows - maybe it was always just the injury in the knee?


Hultzen:  Just the release point.  

It could kick in at literally any moment.  Why?  Because he's had the release point before.  ANY GIVEN MORNING during the spring you could read in the paper, "Wow, Hultzen is throwing the stuffing out of the ball."  Or not.  If you do, then off we go.


Taijuan:  Tactically, there's probably nothing to watch for.  I'm sure he'd finish 2013 in the top 20 in the AL in earned run average, if allowed to do so.  And I can't imagine he wouldn't do more than any other pitcher to justify the 1-year deals on Morales, Morse and Saunders.

There was some discussion at BJOL this week about HOF-qualified Davey Johnson -- he took Dwight Gooden at what, age 18-19, and said "He's one of my five best starters.  He's in there."  We all have predilections; a person's attitude toward a Taijuan Walker situation becomes a litmus test for him.  It's a good way to gauge what your predilections are.


Erasmo:  we presume that he has to foul up royally to lose a spot.  Erasmo Ramirez is not known for fouling up royally.  Am looking forward to six most heinous years of Erasmage.



Klat Categories: 


Great thread, Doc.

If Z is all in for '13, and if bringing in a Bonderman or Garland is all about finding a couple of cheap 40% bets and hoping one comes in, then Big Foug guys have to be part of the battle plan. Assuming that ERAM is a lock, that means that some of the Big Three must be in, at least, the 2nd wave onto the '13 beachhead. And there's a chance they will be in the first wave.

OK, so we open with Felix, Saunders, Erasmo, Iwkuma and one of Bonderman/Garland/Beavan. Beavan is a fairly safe bet to be decent but if Bonderman and Garland are each less than 40% rolls (and I think that's fair) then you still have, at best, slightly less than 2 out of 3 shot that one of them is a rotation guy on April 1st. It could be a 15% shot, something like that. That means that you have to be considering a Big Three guy, even now. Assuming that one of those three guys shines more than Beavan in Arizona. Not a longshot bet. I'll lay money on that now.

I haven't seen much indication of that from Z/Sarge, but the thought that a Big Three guy just might break camp must be there. if 2013 is all about 2013 and not 2015 then they can't really afford to not consider that. If we're only 1/2 in in April and May, you many get 20 starts out of 4's and 5's before we make a Big Three call-up. If Beavan stumbles then there could be a hole in that plan.

10 starts from a gouged Garland or Bombed Beavan or Blasted Bonderman may dig you a deep and early '13 hole.

Then the All In in '13 strategy collapses.

All In means just that Z. Make your move.



M's Watcher's picture

M's Watcher

Bonderman/Garland/Beavan may be just spaghetti for the rotation. I like giving the first two a chance to come back to the bigs, even if they end up playing for another team. The Bonderman/League reference is scary, and Garland could eat innings if healthy. Many forget that Beavan also ate innings in 2012, ~150 in Seattle and ~40 in Tacoma. I look forward to the prospects of one or more of the kids pitching great innings, not just eating innings. That's when the real fun starts.


zzdawg's picture


My hunch is two that will come through are Beavan and Smoak. Both get no love, but both are still young. Smoak worked out hard this offseason and I have this feeling he will break out. Beavan will never be a #2, but if these changes work in making his flat fastball not so flat, he could easily be a #3. Or a nice piece in a blockbuster trade. A successful Beavan, another starter and 2 good bullpen pitchers are a great place to start for a megabat trade with a few years of team control.


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DaddyOIt seems to me also that the automated strike zone would be helpful in reducing the time of games. Greg Maddux made famous the art of inducing batters to swing at balls off the plate because umpires would give him strike calls if he demonstrated the ability to continue to hit his spot 3 to 4 inches outside. A cat and mouse game has developed over the years between hitters and pitchers. Taken to it's ultimate conclusion, it is Red Sox and Oakland A's baseball. Work walks, and endlessly spoil pitches just off the plate. Instead of at-bats being resolved, they are prolonged to ridiculous lengths.23 min 5 sec ago
Bat571Just limiting time-outs and step-outs (of the batter's box) would help.52 min 33 sec ago
Bat571The Wolcott game I'm referring to is the one where he threw 80 pitches and the game lasted just over 2 hours (against Oakland, I believe). But it was like the Walker game - both pitchers got the ball and pitched and everyone kept in the game - I'd love to hear Jay Buhner talk about maintaining the pace of games, since he won that one with a homer in the ninth as I recall.53 min 57 sec ago
DaddyOIf you REALLY wanted to speed up the game, you'd reduce the number of balls that would trigger a "base on balls" to three. It'll never happen, but it would eliminate a lot of lengthy pitcher nibbling. Another thing you could do would be to limit the number of foul balls. After two strikes count a third foul ball as a strikeout. Again, it'll never happen, and I'm not sure it should, but it's the kind of thing that would have a dramatic impact.1 hour 6 min ago
Bat571Walker v. Buehrle or the Bob Wolcott game or any of Maddux's 2 hr. games ought to be the model - look at what everyone: pitchers, hitters, fielders, and umps did in those games and try to see if you can get that to work. Don't use a visible clock unless the pitcher or hitter continually delay - then do it electronically on a big board at the discretion of the crew chief to get things back on track. Having it all the time would distract from the flow of the battle - but using it on Mike Hargrove or in certain Yankee-Red Sox games would have been a blessing!1 hour 14 min ago
csiemsI think most of the "too long" cries come from east coast media who have to watch Yankees-Red Sox games. I also think it's funny when I meet people who think the game is too long who also want more home runs. Pitching duels tend to move quickly; it's slugfests like yesterday's that tend to go long.1 hour 34 min ago
DaddyOI agree with every reasonable attempt to speed up the game, but a big clock and a hard time limit between pitches is IMO not the way to go. Last night's game is a perfect example. When the drama builds, and everything's riding on a particular pitch, the idea that the catcher would have to hustle through his signs, and the pitcher hustle to deliver the pitch would simply spoil the drama inherent in the game. Baseball take place in time, but it is not a timed sport. Somehow that needs to be kept.1 hour 51 min ago
SABR Mattthere should be a time out limit of one per plate appearance for the batter.2 hours 1 min ago
MtGrizzlyI'll believe those changes when I see them. The umpires allow time out to be called at will, so unless that changes I can't see anything really different.2 hours 33 min ago
SABR MattI like just about all of those changes.3 hours 16 min ago
Gordon Gross hours 48 min ago
Gordon GrossProposals to speed up the game will be tried in the AFL. Might need to see some of those games. The giant 20 second clock should be interesting.3 hours 49 min ago
rick82I enjoyed the interview with the 83 year old fan who has had Royal season tickets since 1969: "Did you ever think you'd see this (playoff game in KC) again?" "It was bound to happen." - Good things come to those who wait, and wait, and wait. Finest looking 83 year old I've ever seen, too. At least since Buck O'Neill. :-)4 hours 21 min ago
DaddyOHere's hoping the Pirates do in the Giants tonight.5 hours 7 min ago
DaddyOThat game last night was truly one of the great postseason games you'll ever see.5 hours 7 min ago
DaddyOI have to agree that the language in Dreyer's column is less hopeful than what appeared in TNT. One get's the sense that Jack has been signaled that payroll will increase, but for all we know that could be a $5 million increase. Yep, they've finally got religion that Seager is #5 hitter, and that they need a #4 and a #6. We've known that for years. Previously their solutions have been castoffs and hope-for's that have been pure dice rolls, most of whom didn't pan out. It will be interesting to see how serious the M's are about obtaining the two quality hitters they seek. As always with the M's, words don't mean much. Only what they do means anything.5 hours 9 min ago
SABR MattNyah...LOL5 hours 28 min ago
rick82Too bad for the Royals they didn't take Cameron's advice and not chase after this season. Now they will get crushed by the Angels and all they will have to show for it was last night's game. Tongue firmly in cheek.5 hours 52 min ago
rick82My sentiments exactly, Matt, in all three posts.5 hours 57 min ago
SABR MattI'll bet their biggest bat addition is a worse hitter than Michael Saunders.6 hours 21 min ago