Mariners Analysis

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Need pitching

This is one thing pretty much the entire Mariner community agrees on- the team needs better starting pitching. From casual fan to season-ticket holder, from Steve Kelley to bloggers, the consensus is clear. You cannot expect the team to hit .320+ the rest of the season and bail out the pitching. And the longer the starters continue to struggle, the more immediate the affect on the bullpen will be.

Torre is loved in NY, but fans hate how he wears out the bullpen. He tends to go with his best relievers and use them over and over, with the theory being they have nothing left in October. For the M's the continued use of Putz and Morrow over and over during this win streak might very well have a price later on down the road.

The problem for Bavasi is how do you fix it? Baek will never be an innings-eater. He is a true 5th starter that you hope to get 5-6 innings and turn it over to the bullpen. Weaver is a disaster who is lucky to go 5. Ramirez is hurt. Washburn's command he displayed earlier in the year is faltering. Hernandez will get better, but you are obviously going to be careful after the arm troubles.

So the team is in a bit of a quandary. I recommend taking Weaver out of the rotation immediately and using him (if you must!) as a long-reliever primarily in mop-up duty. No use burning up your bullpen in games with big disparities, so use Weaver where possible. These one-run games won't continue forever. Second, I would bring back Feierabend to replace him in the rotation. Third, I would stop using relievers only facing one batter except where absolutely necessary. While low pitch count innings are good, it is still hard on the body to continually be forced to warmup.

Finally, I would ensure every reliever on the team is clear on their roles, and stick to the game plan beforehand. If Putz needs the day off, he gets the day off, regardless of how much temptation their might be to try to get one more win.

This bullpen is one of the best in baseball. It would be a shame to let your poor decisions on Weaver and Ramirez have a trickle-down affect and start impacting one of the true strengths of the team.