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Let’s look at the Mariners pitching depth

The dust has settled and potential spot starters are everywhere

MLB: San Francisco Giants at New York Mets Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

One of the bigger storylines that emerged from this offseason was how heavily Jerry Dipoto addressed the issue of starting pitching depth. The Mariners are fresh off of a season in which every starter not named Hisashi Iwakuma got injured, and a lot of those guys will be back in 2017.

Here is a chart showing all of the pitchers who A) started a game for the Mariners in 2016 and B) weren’t in the original, five-man rotation:

* - Primarily pitched as a reliever in 2016. Only stats from their starts were included.

Ultimately, the Mariners needed eight additional arms to start games for them over the course of last season. Some of the pitchers managed to stick around for a while—James Paxton emerged as the best pitcher on the staff and Ariel Miranda remained in the rotation for all of the final stretch—but that is still a fairly deep dive into the pitching depths. If the same, injury-filled season were to occur again, who are the most likely candidates to be called upon? Let’s take a look.

The 40-Man Group

LHP Ariel Miranda

2016: Came over to the Mariners in a trade for Wade Miley. Made 10 starts and a relief appearance in Seattle, finishing with a 5.06 xFIP and 5.25 FIP in 56.0 innings. Had a significant dinger issue with the Mariners, posting a 1.93 HR/9. Beat his peripherals by a fairly significant margin, regardless. Works primarily with a fastball that sits 91-94, but can get up to 96, and a splitter-changeup-slider off-speed mix that is all in the low-80s.

How likely are they to start for the Mariners in 2017: As close to a 100% chance as you’ll find on this list. Given his (results-based) success in Seattle last year and the Mariners’ hesitation regarding his potential move to the bullpen, I’ll be shocked if Miranda doesn’t make at least a few starts for the Mariners in 2017.

RHP Rob Whalen

2016: Moved across three levels, putting up a 3.19 FIP in Double-A and 2.53 FIP in Triple-A. Got a 24.2 inning cup of coffee with the Atlanta Braves, running a 4.77 xFIP while striking out 25 batters during the stint. Whalen didn’t display anything spectacular in his arsenal, but he has a decent enough feel for all of his pitches and manages to mix it all effectively.

How likely are they to start for the Mariners in 2017: Incredibly likely. At this point in time, you have to figure he’s the next man up after Miranda.

LHP Dillon Overton

2016: Pitched 125.2 innings in Triple-A, finishing the year with a 3.46 FIP. He had multiple stints with the Oakland Athletics and put together what might have been one of the worst debut seasons in MLB history. In just 24.2 innings with the A’s, Overton managed to surrender 12 home runs while compiling a -0.9 fWAR. If you want to have fun and average those numbers out to 200 innings, you’re looking at a -7.4 fWAR.

How likely are they to start for the Mariners in 2017: Very likely. He’s on the 40-man. He has nowhere to go but up. Unless he is getting demolished in Tacoma on a nightly basis, I’d expect him to make a few starts for the Mariners.

RHP Chris Heston

2016: Primarily pitched in Triple-A, where he put together one of his worst performances at any minor league level. Had the lowest strikeout-rate of his career (5.86 K/9). Heston made a brief appearance with the Giants in April, but the righty slumped through three ugly appearances, was sent to Triple-A, and never returned. He finished his 2016 MLB season with an 8.21 xFIP and a 10.80 BB/9 over a measly five innings.

How likely are they to start for the Mariners in 2017: Once again, his presence on the 40-man makes this incredibly likely. Even if you feel like one of the non 40-man options are a teensy bit better, it’s hard to justify bumping a guy off the 40-man for what would likely be a very short stint when someone like Heston would be ready and waiting in Tacoma.

The Non 40-Man Veterans

RHP Cody Martin

2016: Spent the whole year in the Mariners system, where he bounced back and forth between Triple-A Tacoma and Seattle. Martin made two starts and seven relief appearances for the Mariners, finishing the year with a 5.03 xFIP and 5.68 FIP. While Martin struggled to run his fringe offerings past many bats, he surprisingly managed to outwork his peripherals fairly well. Outside of a nightmarish start in which Martin surrendered four home runs to the New York Yankees, he was actually quite effective.

How likely are they to start for the Mariners in 2017: For me, he is the most likely of this group. The Mariners are familiar with him and have seen him enjoy very moderate levels of success in Seattle. If they need a spot start or two and Martin is the most-rested starter in Tacoma, I could see them opting for him.

RHP Micah Owings

2016: Owings spent the whole year playing for the York Revolution of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball. He hasn’t pitched in a major league game since 2012.

How likely are they to pitch for the Mariners in 2017: I honestly don’t know here. Owings comes to the Mariners completely dripping with question marks. He may surprise. He may not even make it through the entire spring. I’ll lean more towards ‘not likely’, but until we see Owings throw live, everything is a very, very, uneducated guess.

RHP Ryan Weber

2016: Weber is a sinker ball pitcher who loves to pound the strike zone. He doesn’t miss many bats, but he’s able to generate a lot of ground balls with an arsenal that relies heavily on a sinker and curveball. He enjoyed his second stint in the big leagues last year, making two starts and fourteen relief appearances (36.1 IP) with the Atlanta Braves. He was about as spot start-y as a spot starter can be, putting up a 4.96 FIP and a -0.2 fWAR. He wasn’t very good, but he wasn’t a total disaster, either.

How likely are they to start for the Mariners in 2017: Given that the Mariners liked him enough to give him a 40-man spot for an entire month, I’d say he’s a fairly likely to make at least one start before disappearing into the ether.

RHP Christian Bergman

2016: For the last three seasons, Christian Bergman has made multiple appearances with the Colorado Rockies in some capacity. In 2014, he started ten games and had moderate levels of success. In 2015, started 4 games and made 26 relief appearances and, once again, enjoyed moderate success. In 2016, he lost all feel for his changeup and struggled to keep the ball in the park, suffering through 24.2 innings and finishing out the year with a -0.2 fWAR and a career-high 5.78 FIP. All of his pitches range from fringe to average, but he throws a ton of strikes and any time an extreme fly ball pitcher goes from Coors Field to Safeco Field there’s always the tiniest bit of intrigue.

How likely are they to pitch for the Mariners in 2017: Has to be one of the lowest priorities on this list to start a game. I could see him popping in as a long relief guy during a rough stretch where the bullpen has been overused, but the only way I could see the Mariners A) booting someone off the 40-man for Bergman and B) letting him start a game is in an extreme emergency.

The Approaching Prospects

RHP Andrew Moore

2016: Moved all the way up to Double-A in his first full season of pro ball and managed a 3.34 FIP over 108.1 innings with the Jackson Generals. Ability to command all of his offerings well and has to be as close as any of the pitching prospects to making it to Seattle.

How likely are they to start for the Mariners in 2017: Somewhat likely. We haven’t seen Moore pitch in Tacoma yet, but he’s polished enough to where I could absolutely see him making it to Seattle this year. That being said, we’ve yet to see how aggressive Jerry Dipoto is in promoting pitching prospects (who don’t throw high-90s with a wipeout slider) to the big leagues. They may decide to give him one more year to develop.

RHP Max Povse

2016: Season mimicked that of Moore’s very closely, with successful stints in High-A and Double-A. Has a gargantuan frame and a fastball that will occasionally touch the mid-90s. Commands his pitches well and creates plenty of ground balls with a natural downward plane.

How likely are they to pitch for the Mariners in 2017: He only has eleven total starts in Double-A, but—once again, similar to Moore—he is fairly polished and there’s less concern about how his stuff will play against major league hitters. We’ll put him at not likely, but plausible.

RHP Dylan Unsworth

2016: Soft-tossing righty who has been in the system since 2010. Had a successful stint in Double-A in 2016 before injury issues hit (46.2 IP, 2.96 FIP). Popped up in the Arizona Fall League and managed a 4.15 FIP in 21 innings. He’s at his best when he’s effectively leaning on his secondary stuff (changeup, curveball).

How likely are they to pitch for the Mariners in 2017: I’ll lock this one in at not very likely. All of his offerings are fringe, at best. His biggest selling point is his ability to throw strikes, but Unsworth doesn’t bring anything to the table that virtually everyone listed above doesn’t do as well or better.

The Dark Horse

RHP Sam Gaviglio

2016: Gaviglio is old enough and average enough of a pitcher to where I don’t really consider him much of a prospect anymore, but he’s also yet to reach the big leagues so here we are. Enjoyed the best year of his career in 2016, shining for Double-A Jackson before taking over as one of the more reliable arms on Triple-A Tacoma’s staff.

How likely are they to start for the Mariners in 2017: Very unlikely. Gaviglio doesn’t do anything spectacular on the mound, but if he’s pitching well and the Mariners need immediate help and he’s rested, well, he could be this year’s Jarrett “who in the hell is this guy I literally didn’t know he existed until this very moment” Grube.