Mariner’s pitching woes should have you worried

Pitching will make or break the Mariners 2015 season, and so far, the offering from the staff in Spring Training has not been good.

In reference to Spring Training statistics, many players shrug them off since they are, in fact, only exhibition games. However, if three out of your five starters have ERA’s over seven (and King Felix’s is over ten) some red flags have to be raised. Sure some players struggle early in the spring, and as they get into the rhythm of playing baseball again, the struggles sort themselves out. For the Mariners, this problem is only getting worse.

In J.A. Happ’s last two turns, he has given up a total of 12 earned runs in 8.2 innings pitched. Compared to his first two outings where he gave up two runs in five innings, this is not a good trend.

For Felix Hernandez, he has a solid start sandwiched in between two abysmal ones. Collectively, he has given up 14 runs in 12.1 innings for a startling 10.22 ERA. Despite this, Felix has the track record to put bad springs behind him. In 2014, he had a 4.73 ERA in the spring and he followed that up with arguably the best season of his career.

Both of the last two guys were veterans, so they have the experience to pull it together. The one case that is really troublesome is James Paxton. He had a late start to the spring after suffering a bruised forearm when he tripped while doing agility drills and it shows in his results. He has pitched to the tune of a 7.84 ERA this spring with an alarming 2.32 WHIP. Paxton got shelled in his last start against the White Sox on Wednesday when he gave up 7 runs on 10 hits in just 3.1 innings.

These pitching problems aren’t limited to the starters either. The Mariners have also had problems in the bullpen, with nearly the same cast of characters that posted the best reliever ERA in baseball last season.

Dominic Leone has had by far the worst spring of any Mariner making the trip up to Seattle. After a sterling rookie season, he has posted a 12.86 ERA with batters hitting .425 off of him. Those look like stats a slow pitch softball pitcher would put up, not a major league reliever.

Danny Farquhar, Tom Wilhelmson and Charlie Furbush have also struggled with a combined 6.32 ERA and all of them have ERA’s over five. The only relievers who haven’t struggled are Yoervis Medina, Fernando Rodney and rookie Tyler Olson.

While you can certainly look at bright spots on this pitching staff like Taijuan Walker, who has only given up a one run in twenty five innings, and Olson who has not given up a run in ten innings, by and large the pitching has struggled.

The pitching has struggled so much in fact, that they are 26th in ERA and 27th in WHIP this spring. The other statistical categories don’t look good either.

It is true that it is just spring training and it isn’t uncommon for guys to struggle. However, the Mariners have very high expectations for this season and it would not be good to waste that hype by stumbling out of the gates early.

The struggles are fine right now, but when the Mariners are playing at Safeco Field in front of a sold-out crowd on Monday afternoon, these pitchers need to be ready or it could be a long April in Seattle.