Click to enlarge. 2009 Mariners SP tRA for June 2009. Source StatCorner.com
After a rough May, the rotation rebounded a touch to post an almost exactly average month. The rotation's 4.87 collective tRA was worth -0.1 runs against average.
ERIK BEDARD: We only got two starts out of Bedard in June and he has been on the shelf since. GRADE: C-
FELIX HERNANDEZ: Felix is the reason the rotation came out looking average. He flat out dominated for the month of June. Felix did not maintain his crazy good May in terms of missing nearly 14% of bats, but his not quite 11% rate is still superb. The strikeout rate did rise a bit, up from 21.8% in May to 23% in June. Another couple points were added to his ground ball rate and allowing just a single home run all month really helps out the tRA. GRADE: A
BRANDON MORROW: Yeah, why not have him re-convert into a starter at the Major League level? The good news is that starting Morrow can still miss bats. The control is shaky, but that is hardly a surprise and it was not crippling. What was a surprise was the ground balls. It is almost like Morrow decided to try and become Felix this time around. His .391 BABIP has him looking a lot worse to most people than he has actually pitched. Make no mistake, Morrow still has the stuff to be a high ceiling pitcher. The question is going to be his health. In a sense, Morrow is like a four years ago Erik Bedard, except less awesome at all the non-baseball things. And while I still think he would be better off spending a couple month in Tacoma refining his regimen and command, with each start we might have to concede that Brandon Morrow might not need it. GRADE: B
GARRETT OLSON: Olson might be a useful back end starter after a little more work, but right now his batted ball profile is a real liability out of the rotation. Everything else is decent enough. He is not great at missing bats, but he threw enough strikes to not get himself into too many jams. If he can either miss bats more like he did out of the pen or at least return to an even split of ground and fly balls then he can pitch like a legit 4. Until then he is hopefully just place holding for Erik Bedard. GRADE: D
JASON VARGAS: Behold Jason Vargas's changeup. A pitch that generate a swinging strike rate of 8.7% for the month of June. Vargas got lucky avoiding issuing walks based on his strike profile, but he also got a bit unlucky on the long ball given a decent batted ball profile. Nothing spectacular here, but who is looking for spectacular with Jason Vargas? He pitched like an average American League starter! That is fantastic. GRADE: C
JARROD WASHBURN: I told you to trade him, morons. Thank god he had a .245 BABIP in June to mask how poorly he actually pitched. Move him, move him as soon as you get anything of value, including salary relief, in return. It is not all grim news in Washburn land. His swinging strike rate rose again, up another half a point in June so he might get a few more strikeouts back in July. GRADE: D+
2009 Mariners RP tRA for June 2009. Source StatCorner.com
The bullpen shook off the horrible May to return to being slightly above average in June, logging 1.1 runs over average. The issue, again is that they did it by limiting the home run (one per 60 batters faced this month) and May showed what happens when that non-skill regresses.
The story of June clearly was David Aardsma taking it to another level. Sure, he still has shaky command, but the man has a beast of a fastball and a slider that he bust off when Rob Johnson gets a little ache in his pointer finger. David Aardsma faced 40 batters in June and struck out 20 of them, against just four walks and no home runs, or runs of any kind.
The bullpen benefited from a .244 BABIP in June, further reinforcing to everyone who looks solely at ERA that the bullpen is a strength. That is not true, but at least they stopped being a huge weakness and a solid 43% ground ball rate offered some hope for further home run not seeing them in the coming months.