Six Man Rotation
If you got 6 guys, you got 6 guys


What the MARINERS will do, we don't know.  As we type this, they've got "TBA" in Elias' / Iwakuma's spot next Tuesday.  That's with Mike Montgomery being in James Paxton's spot, and the M's just having said "James is going to be out awhile."

What the Tacoma News Tribune and its president* of the BBWA -- that's not a swipe -- sees as likely can be found here.  A 25-year beat writer's take on an org's preferences is a camera angle that we value at SSI.  On Monday, before Iwakuma's fine rehab start, Dutton gave the options as ... my words now ...

  • Powerflush Montgomery or Elias
  • Put J.A. Happ in the bullpen (?!)
  • Go to 6 men
  • Keep a foot on the Iwakuma duck to keep it from bobbing up to surface

A few ideas about each of these:


HISHASHI IWAKUMA should be a given.  It is worth a radio show as to why he is not a given, why the Mariners are giving this any thought.  Over the two years 2013-14 he had the #8 ERA and #6 xFIP in the American League.  His ERA and xFIP were almost exactly Max Scherzer's:

SP, 2013 and 2014 seasons ERA xFIP
Hisashi Iwakuma 3.05 3.08
Max Scherzer 3.02 3.15


Stats aren't everything, but, a better xFIP than Max Scherzer?  Iwakuma had a few things to iron out in early 2015, but He. Is. Your. Number. Two.


POWERFLUSH ROENIS ELIAS:  this is a young man who seems to hang his head when he succeeds in the big leagues and then they tell him to go home.  Tommy Lasorda would take more seriously the idea of allowing him to stay in the bullpen.  So would Earl Weaver.  That slider-throwing LOOGY, not talking Beimel but the other guy, is nice and all.  But the M's are just too precious about their #7-8 relievers for my tastes.  Elias could do as well as Joe Beimel, we're guessing.

Let's say Mike Montgomery gets hit even two starts in a row.  As Felix could.  Then he's gone, right?  This is all way too 1970's Yankees for Dr. D.  Let's see how this starter handles the White Sox, and if he doesn't impress we'll try somebody else and hope HE's Jeff Fassero.

That's what they're gonna do, we're sure, flush Elias.  Sure wish they'd let him trade starts with Montgomery.  But, if you alternated those two in the #5 start each week, it might complicate your use of the #7 reliever and ... can't have that.  :- )

Bonus points if you remember that it was Tony LaRussa who thought pitching would go better with 9 pitchers trading 3-3-3 innings.  Montgomery and Elias could split games between them.  Your relievers would get a day off.  We know, we know.  Hasn't been done much, so can't be done.


HAPP IN THE BULLPEN:  the thought had never occurred.

My first reaction is that he reminds you of Dan Plesac as a closer.  (This version of Happ, the one we've seen since the last All-Star break.)  Consistent 93 MPH, left side, very well located, exudes self-confidence.  No walks.

I'd be thrilled to see Happ in a late-inning role.  Used to love watching Plesac.


SIX MAN ROTATION, keeping Felix every 5th day of course:  They just discussed this in the Hey Bills.  As a general rule I would prefer to see 4 before I'd like to see 6 ... for the same reason I would prefer to see 1 starter rather than 13 starters.  Earl's Ninth Law:  a fifth starter takes away games from four guys WHO ARE BETTER THAN HIM.  Earl used to occasionally go with THREE starting pitchers.

Still, 6 men would at least be something fresh, and in this case we've got the 1970's Dodgers situations.  No absolutes, brah.  If you really do got six of 'em, hokay.

The key thing here is, you got six guys, but after Felix they're all eligible to be named your #5 starter.  You have Felix, Iwakuma and then four more guys you can't pick from.  It is for precisely this reason that the 2015 Mariners loom as an exception to Dr. D's No Six-ers Shtick rule.  (And Iwakuma might benefit from lighter innings.)


DAVID ROLLINS was pointed out by Biology Rick.  You take a look and ... what, he's in the 'pen?  Seven games pitched, seven lockouts.  If it were bowling he'd be five strikes short of a perfecto.  You may be forced to bring him up and let him LOOGY, but Vidal Nuno is also a pretty cool LOOGY.  Not like Rollins would be a Left Hand One Out Guy, but Nuno actually is that 1-batter man.  He can hit the outside black with that slider.

We got two questions for yer.  (1) How long till the M's have to get Rollins onto the roster, due to Rule 5?  and (2) how come nobody ever answers questions posed in the articles?  ;- )

And (3) how come we're always talking about the way a 36-43 ballclub has way too many good players?


Dr D



Great stuff, Doc.  

Kuma is a lock to get the ball.  Walker has to be a lock to get the ball, as well as he has pitched.  Montgomery?  Why wouldn't you continue to roll him out there?  So you get down to Happ and Elias.  For this year...I prefer Elias.  For the next three years...I prefer Elias.  Happ, however, is somewhat grizzled and Mac likes that.  The weird thing about his is that as he's learned not to walk quite so many people, he gives uup more hits.  His BB/9 has been at career low levels for the last two year, but his H/9 has been at career highs.  He's a weird guy in that he basically has no vL vs. vR split advantage over his career.  His upside is this year.  Elias' is better than tthat.  Give the Cuban the ball.  Use Happ to control innings, as a spot starter.  


With Kuma starting his rehab, everyone on the club knew he was going to displace one of the non-Felix starters. Everyone had to assume that would be Montgomery. Funny thing happened - Montgomery went on a tear. Can't be him to go down, not in the midst of a hot streak. Can't be Walker, in the midst of his own hot streak. That leaves Happ and Elias. Happ Happ does while Elias went into a tail spin. So Elias and his 8.74 ERA over the last four starts is the right call. i like Elias a lot but Happ gives the team the best shot to win his next start. 

Looks like Nuno will go down for Rollins and Wilhelmsen will go down to try and find his command - for Farquahar, maybe? I read that they put him on a hard quota of cutters in Tacoma, so maybe he's been cured of that infatuation. 


I'll take a shot at your questions.

1. Rollins had to be on the roster July 4th. As Rule 5, Rollins must be on the 25 man roster every day he is able. The 80 game suspension ended yeaterday, so he is here. What I can not answer is what happens if Rollins stays on roster for all the remaining games. I believe a player must spend at least 100 games on the 25 man roster (versus being on DL). Since Rollins is the first Rule 5 player to get suspended, I do not know if Rollins MUST start on 25 man roster to begin next year, or if the Mariners can start treating him like Lucas Luetge... who is still on the 40 man roster for some reason.

2. I guess is your questions are either A. too tough to ask in a brief sentence OR B. sometimes seem obvious or rhetorical

3. This is your classis question. No true right or wrong answer, and no way to answer intelligently with a brief answer. The best way I can answer is that the Mariners have 4 or 5 top 100 players in the MLB on the roster, and maybe even 8 in the top 200 players but then - NOBODY in the next top players from 201 to 500...and then the Mariners have probably 30 guys or more who are best characterized as players who are excellent roles players that should be players 15-25 on your roster. The middle part of this roster is just YUCK, and it is almost impossible to identify who should stay and who should go... but maybe a good manager or GM or coaching staff could figure it out given 18 months. 

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