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Fifth Starter Rundown

In between the time from the start of the season until Erik Bedard is healthy, the Mariners will need to run out a starter aside from Felix, Lee, Snell or Hyphen. Who might that person be? There are seven possible names internally that I am looking at in this post: Doug Fister, Nick Hill, Yusmeiro Petit (whoops, not any more!), Luke French, Garrett Olson, Ryan Feierabend and Jason Vargas. There is also the possibility of another starter added via trade or free agency, though those seem like slim odds at this point.

The aim of this post is to look at the seven pitchers listed above and profile them. I am not going to attempt to pass confident judgment on which of the seven should be anointed into the rotation. The work put in by each over the winter is going to be vitally important along with their varying rates of health and progress come Spring Training. I am also disregarding the contract situations, re: options remaining. Think of this post as a reference chart.

I go into some greater detail below, though not as expansive as Jeff did on Nick Hill earlier, but up front I decided to rate each pitcher on the 20-80 scouting scale in what I feel is the three main categories for pitching success. These are completely subjective.

Fister Hill* Petit^ French Olson Vargas Feierabend
Throws Strikes 65 50 60 52 40 45 45
Misses Bats 43 55 60 45 45 60 50
Ground Balls 45 60 30 45 45 40 40

*Projected if Hill were to maintain minor league rates in Seattle
^Currently DFA'd

Read on for some blurbs about each player.

Jason Vargas

LHP, 27

-Throws a mediocre high-80s fastball, a good+ changeup and a show-me slider.
-Misses an above average number of bats, but also consistently misses the strike zone.
-Predominantly a fly ball pitcher.
-Little upside, but offers potential average production right away.

Garrett Olson

LHP, 26

-Throws a mediocre high-high-80s fastball, a decent breaking ball and a decent changeup.
-Had some good Minor League success.
-Control is a major problem.
-Showed better success out of pen, might be best utilized as a bullpen lefty.

Lucas French

LHP, 24

-Throws a high-80s fastball with a good slider. Also has a changeup.
-Roughly league average Minor League numbers as a starter.
-Roughly league average Major League pitch numbers as a starter.
-Had trouble generating strikeouts.
-Had a moderate batted ball profile in the Minors, but lacked ground balls in the Majors.
-Was a marginal prospect before 2009, might be best to prove improvement was real in the Minors.

Nick Hill

LHP, 25

-Throws a high-80s fastball, solid changeup and averagish curveball.
-Took a huge step forward in 2009. Rose K rate by 10% while advancing a level, kept walk rate down.
-Endurance concerns. Hasn't been stretched out for a full slate of innings yet.
-Has not pitched above Double-A yet.
-Lots of ground balls.

Doug Fister

RHP, 26

-High-80s fastball, with solid changeup. Has both a slow curve and a hard slider.
-Took a big step forward in 2009, mostly in avoiding walks.
-Above average strikeout to walk ratio.
-Neutral batted ball profile.
-If control stays good, could offer best solution as 5th starter because low walk totals correlate well with more innings pitched, offers relief to bullpen.

Yusmeiro Petit

RHP, 25

-High-80s fastball with changeup, curve and slider. Curveball is good, slider merely decent, changeup is bad.
-Lifetime NL pitcher.
-Misses an above average number of bats.
-Control is roughly average.
-Big time fly ball pitcher and has been burned alive by home runs, Safeco might hide his fault.

Ryan Feierabend

LHP, 24

-High-80s fastball with a reliance on his changeup. Also has a curve and slider, neither of which are note worthy.
-Very good pick off move.
-Recovering from Tommy John surgery last March, effect on already fringey stuff is worrisome.