Yesterday, we graded the Mariners' position players, by which I mean I graded the Mariners' position players, and you can read that here. You won't want to miss it in case you've been having a wonderful Thursday and you're tired of feeling so good about things. When you're in a good mood, you think things are better than they are! That's dangerous! Let's get you back in a normal mood, or a frustrated mood.
The natural follow-up is grading the members of the pitching staff. That's what I've always done before, and it would look weird if I didn't do that. I thought long and hard about not doing that anyway, just to underscore how pointless this all is. It would be a message sent by omission, as it were. But here I am to grade the members of the pitching staff because as much as I'm in favor of sending a message, this way I can send the same message in text while also upping my content volume. Message: this is all pointless. Maybe you're tired of hearing me say that but the fact that you're still here indicates that the message hasn't seeped in.
Once again, these grades are based on first-half performance relative to league-average performance, not weighted for playing time because "weighting" is a mathematical or scientific term and I don't want to make you believe that what follows is in any way rigorous. Do you see a grade with which you disagree? Eat a bowl of Raisin Bran! Do you see another grade with which you disagree? Eat a bowl of Raisin Bran! I'm just going to guess that there's a strong relationship between number of disagreements and degree of negligence toward the health of one's own body. Eat better, live better, think better. Otherwise you're just wasting the elements of which you're composed. Those are elements that could go to a marmot. An adorable lil marmot.
Blake Beavan: D-
I've never met Blake Beavan. Never stood in the same room, nor to my knowledge have I stood in the next room over. He might be a wonderful fellow, absolutely delightful, quirky and always full of witty and charming anecdotes. Maybe he's adventurous. Maybe come the offseason he's always scooting off for another daring endeavor. Maybe Blake Beavan is one of the most interesting people in the world. He's not one of the most interesting pitchers in the world, which is why I didn't write this paragraph about his pitching.
Steve Delabar: C
Steve Delabar, meanwhile, is very much interesting, or at least his first half was interesting. Overall, Delabar was one of the most difficult pitchers in baseball to hit. He allowed a lower contact rate than Tim Collins, Joe Nathan, Francisco Liriano, and Stephen Strasburg. He also managed to fit eight dingers into 30.1 innings meaning that, when Delabar got hit, which wasn't often, he got hit hard. Remember when Delabar allowed that crucial, game-tying home run to Jose Lopez? Yeah, you're going to, for a while.
Charlie Furbush: A
I think it was before the season that I wrote about how I'd like to see Furbush get another shot at starting. I wasn't as down on him as a lot of other people were after his performance in 2011, and I was a fan of his repertoire. Furbush wasn't given that shot and now he's turned into one of the most dominant left-handed relievers in the world. Or he just has the numbers of one of the most dominant left-handed relievers in the world, and deep down, he's still an inconsistent liability. Wouldn't that be something? That wouldn't be nothing. Few things are nothing. I guess technically no thing is nothing. Words!
Felix Hernandez: A
I love a lot of things about Felix Hernandez, but one of them is reviewing his performance shortly after we've expressed some concern. Whoops, turns out Felix is pretty much always awesome, and what fluctuations there are can usually be explained by bad luck and unfortunate sequencing. Starting the year, we were worried about Felix's velocity, and Giants fans were worried about Tim Lincecum's velocity. Felix's ERA is 3.13 and Lincecum's ERA is more than double that. And you guys were lamenting Brandon Morrow over Lincecum like suckers. Look how that would've turned out eventually after several years maybe.
Hisashi Iwakuma: C
Iwakuma's nickname is "Kuma", or "bear", and like a bear, he spent much of the previous few months hibernating. On the rare occasion he was awoken, he pitched like he was groggy and irritated. It's like the Mariners don't have the first idea how to handle a bear. They learned how to handle a moose.
Shawn Kelley: A-
Relievers are tricky things, because their numbers are volatile and they're less important than position players and starters, but as long as I'm doing this, I should recommend that you check out Shawn Kelley's numbers. Over 26 innings, he's got 30 strikeouts and just four unintentional walks. When healthy, Kelley's a guy who posts dominant ratios without ever feeling like a dominant pitcher, and for that reason he's probably doomed to a life of being under-appreciated. And a reliever in the major leagues bringing home piles and piles of money. I mean I guess he won't have the worst life.
Josh Kinney: A
On July 3, against the Orioles, Kinney entered in the top of the eighth with two outs and none on. He got ahead of Matt Wieters 0-and-1, and then he retired Wieters on a fly ball to left. The Mariners came up to bat, they tied the score, and then Charlie Furbush replaced Kinney for the top of the ninth. We don't weight for playing time and Josh Kinney has retired 100 percent of the batters he's faced. However he's also allowed 100 percent fly balls and 100 percent contact so an A+ would be completely undeserved.
Brandon League: D+
The frustrating thing about Brandon League is that it's not like he's just always had an inconsistent splitter. Lots of pitchers have high-ceiling stuff they never harness. League harnessed his splitter that one year, and since then it's gone away, to the point where now League's strikeout rate looks to Jason Vargas' strikeout rate with envy. There are also other frustrating things about Brandon League, including the way he opens his mouth when he's looking in for a sign. We can't evaluate a player's personality or intelligence based on the way he looks on the field, but Brandon League makes us want to.
Lucas Luetge: B
There are 381 pitchers in baseball who have thrown at least 20 innings. Lucas Luetge has thrown a lower rate of strikes than all but six of them. At 57.4 percent strikes, he's just ahead of Miguel Batista, at 57.2 percent strikes. But the hell with numbers, did we know that his full name is Lucas Lester Luetge? He's got three Ls! Let us hope that he never gets a fourth. This is a joke about losses. I don't know, I just had a glass of limeade/black tea and my brain is like whatever man, you can keep moving your fingers but I'm staying out of it.
Kevin Millwood: B-
Over 16 starts, Kevin Millwood has allowed four home runs. On June 29, Hector Noesi allowed four home runs. On June 20, Jason Vargas allowed five home runs. Wow! This sure is enough of a paragraph for Kevin Millwood. I haven't read much of anything about his being of use for the younger pitchers, but I haven't read much of anything about the opposite of that, so in conclusion, does Kevin Millwood exist? If so, do the writers know it?
Hector Noesi: D-
Something I wish more people wound understand is that Hector Noesi hasn't been trying to be so bad. He hasn't been deliberately trying to sabotage the team from the inside. He's not a double agent carefully inserted into the Mariners by a rival. I wish I didn't have to keep telling you guys that Noesi wasn't doing what he was doing on purpose. The whole time he was trying not to let those things happen. Which might be more upsetting.
Oliver Perez: B
After the Mariners got rid of Carlos Silva, he went on to have some success with the Cubs. After the Mariners got rid of Jeff Cirillo, he went on to have some success with the Brewers. After the Mariners get rid of Chone Figgins, he'll probably go on to have some success with somebody else. It's nice to be on the other side of that. Hey look, Mets fans, we fixed him! He is actually of some use and value now! Don't you just feel good for him and us?
Stephen Pryor: B+
Good velocity? Tough to hit? Dreadfully inconsistent secondary stuff? Stephen Pryor is probably just going to end up as Steve Delabar except without the pressing terror that any given pitch might tear all of the connective tissue in his body. Having read several articles about him my understanding is that Delabar is mostly held together with dental floss and positive thoughts.
Erasmo Ramirez: B-
I remember there was a degree of fear that Ramirez would end up just being a shorter, tanner Blake Beavan. In Ramirez's third-ever start he struck out ten batters, and one time Blake Beavan struck out seven batters and no other time did Beavan strike out more than four batters. Quick, guess which one of these guys was a first-round draft pick, and guess which one was an international free agent signed out of Nicaragua. Actually hold on, that isn't very hard.
George Sherrill: F
The Mariners recalled Charlie Furbush when George Sherrill went on the disabled list. Furbush has since flourished out of the bullpen and is actively establishing himself as an effective, reliable fireman. Should Furbush go on to have a successful and lucrative career as a reliever, he might have Sherrill to thank, and that would make for awkward phone calls and cards in the mail.
Jason Vargas: C+
Jason Vargas has been Jason Vargas with a few extra dingers so here's this to gross you out:
Clubs that have spoken with the #Orioles say they've shifted away from Matt Garza. Now poking around on Jason Vargas.— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) July 12, 2012
"Everything is so...firm? I wasn't expecting firm."
Tom Wilhelmsen: A
Paraphrasing, I think it was Matthew who observed on Twitter some time ago that Brandon League's inconsistency was all that stood between Tom Wilhelmsen being himself and Tom Wilhelmsen being worth several millions of dollars more on the open market. League's been bad and all of a sudden Tom Wilhelmsen is a proven, effective closer. Just like Brandon League was! Proven and effective. What I love most about the Wilhelmsen story is that it's inspiring in an unconventional, new-agey way. It's inspiring in a way that your parents would hate. "What do you mean he just smoked weed and tended bar?" "I don't want you watching this baseball team anymore." Tom Wilhelmsen isn't living a fairy tale. He's living something much more real than that.