May Report Card: Pitchers

STARTERS

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Click to enlarge. Mariners SP tRA for May 2010. Source StatCorner.com

When the team goes 8-19 it should be no surprise that multiple units failed at their posts and the starting rotation was no exception. Yes, they were an overall positive for the month with 5.0 runs over average, but that was due to Cliff Lee, Doug Fister and nobody else. Unlike in April when everyone but Ryan Rowland-Smith was fine, this month most of the rotation was mediocre but was saved by Cliff Lee's awesomeness.

ERIK BEDARD: Haha, just kidding. GRADE: >:(

DOUG FISTER: Doug Fister's swinging strike rate took a further dive in May than it did in April and yet the success continued. Whatever it is that he does to fool batters into not swinging  also continued. In April I mentioned that only Carl Pavano and Andy Pettitte had hitters swing less often at pitches in the strike zone than Doug Fister. After May is complete, Fister has passed both of them and at 52% is the unquestioned king of non-swings on pitches in the zone. 

On top of that, Fister deepened his ground ball tendencies in May going from a 49% rate to 54% this past month. A rather robust drop in line drive rate also helped to keep damage off the board and helps explain his .234 BABIP. The strikeouts and whiff rate are pathetic, but the strikeout to walk rate of over three is money. GRADE: A-

FELIX HERNANDEZ: Felix was great in April and decidedly mediocre in May. He missed fewer bats, he got way fewer ground balls, he allowed more home runs, he walked more hitters, you get the picture. Come back, April 2010 Felix. GRADE: C

CLIFF LEE: We got a full month of Cliff Lee this time and wow is he fun. We've talked incessantly about how much fun he is so I don't feel the need to repeat myself further. However, I will say that much like with Felix a year ago, if there was any player that Jack and Co. could sign and not have me care too much about the money ramifications, it would be Cliff Lee. He is everything that I love about pitching, even more than Felix.GRADE: A+

RYAN ROWLAND-SMITH: Only two starts this month but both showed some tinges of improvement. GRADE: Incomplete

IAN SNELL: Slightly more strikes without a reduction in missed bats is good! A 23% ground ball rate is so very very bad. More walks than strikeouts? Yeah, that's a paddlin'. GRADE: Incomplete

JASON VARGAS: Strikeouts down, missed bats down, ground balls down and walks up in May adds up easily to a worse month overall for Vargas. The news isn't catastrophic though as the trends were small and Vargas remained serviceable. GRADE: C

GRADE: C

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RELIEVERS

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Mariners RP tRA for May 2010. Source StatCorner.com

Sing the praises of Shawn Kelley's return! It helped to salve some of the burning wounds left behind by a continuing disappointment of a bullpen. Everyone but Brandon League and Sean White got hit too hard. Nobody was downright horrific in May though and Kelley (and White's and Snell's!) tRAs were low enough to boost the entire pen above average. A whole tenth of a run above average!

GRADE: C

You want another idea of how much I feel bad luck plagued this team in May? The four overall grades were B+, D, C and C. Using UZR as the defensive measurement, the grand total for the team was 4.7 runs below average and that doesn't even get rid of the sort of (bad) luck found in wOBA regressions. The Mariners played baseball at the level roughly of a .500 team. They instead ended up 8-19. Those five lost wins would make the entire tone of the season going forward quite different from what they actually face. What a pity. 

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