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Report Card: Pitchers, August


Click to enlarge. 2009 Mariners SP tRA for August 2009. Source

After a terrible July in which the rotation posted a 6.31 tRA, they only got marginally better with a 5.94 mark in August.

DOUG FISTER: This is being covered a lot lately so I will keep it short and retro looking only. The 9.5% swinging strikes was fantastic and completely out of character and expectation for Doug Fister. We will all be watching in September to see if he can keep it up. If he cannot and it tumbles to average or slightly below it will be important to see if then he starts moving more out of the zone, which could hurt his walk rate. GRADE: B

LUCAS FRENCH: French has been one hand a slight disappointment since coming over from Detroit and on the other, a perfect match for our expectations. He has, as previously pointed out around here, been a near perfect match for Jarrod Washburn, which is great because French is ten years younger and ours cost-controlled for another six seasons. Even if he doesn't get any better than he is now, that's useful. I've been slightly disappointed however because his core numbers were better in Detroit than they have been in Seattle. He's not throwing enough strikes mainly. The home runs will regress themselves a bit and other than that, everything is decent to fine. Just throw more strikes, Luke. GRADE: C-

FELIX HERNANDEZ: Felix cooled off in August from his torrid June and July months. The missed bats were still there, but the ground balls fell a little bit again to 50% and the walks crept up a touch. It was still a solid month and one marked with long outings which were useful to keep strain off the bullpen, but a little fewer walks and little more ground balls would be reassuring. GRADE: B

RYAN ROWLAND-SMITH: We got to expand our two start sample size from last month and Rowland-Smith took a tiny step forward from where he was last season when he was at 64% (now at 65%!) and 7% swinging strikes (now at... 7%...!!). Okay, so it seems like RR-S is exactly the same pitcher as he's always been. However, there is one big difference. Last year, RR-S had one of the lowest strikeout rates for a pitcher with his pitch profile. He had enormous trouble putting hitters away. This season that has regressed, upping his strikeout rate a couple points and additionally lowering his walk rate a touch. GRADE: C+

IAN SNELL: Less than 60% strikes is bad. A 28% line drive rate is horrendous. A home run per five innings is terrible. More walks than strikeouts is craptacular. Ian Snell needs to get a lot better. GRADE: F

JASON VARGAS: Vargas had one start and it did not go well. GRADE: N/A




2009 Mariners RP tRA for August 2009. Source

The Mariners bullpen in August was legitimately decent and this time not just because they limited home runs on fly balls as their rate of one per 27 batters faced was only slightly better than one per 24 they allowed in July. No, instead they threw strikes (64.3%), missed bats (8.9%) and kept the ball on the ground (40.6%). As a result, they posted a 2.5 strikeout to free pass ratio for the month, a respectable number.

If it were not for Randy Messenger and Garrett Olson, not only would the entire unit look a lot better, but it would have amazingly consisted of just seven pitchers. As it is, just nine arms used in relief the entire month? That's low, especially when you exclude Doug Fister and his one inning of throw day relief at the end of a disaster game.

Welcome back good Shawn Kelley! You threw 71% strikes, a huge number and still missed double digit bats.

Welcome back good Mark Lowe! You threw 67.3% strikes, a good number for you and went back to missing a huge chunk of bats.

It doesn't look pretty on paper, or sound pretty on paper, or even look pretty in person, but David Aardsma, Mark Lowe, Shawn Kelley, Sean White and Chris Jakubauskas make up a decent pen. They give you two legit guys for strikeouts (Lowe, Aardsma), two guys for ground balls (White, Jak) and two guys to throw strikes (Kelley, Jak) and two guys (White, Jak) who can go long innings if needed. Toss in a lefty and a true mop up guy and you have your best guess at the 2010 bullpen when camp breaks.