Lining up in the pitching rotation, plus today’s lineups

With all the talk of needing to get the pitching rotation set by the time the Mariners travel to Japan, in reality the club just has to get top-two starters Felix Hernandez and Jason Vargas tuned up by March 28-29. Those same two will presumably pitch again in the first two games back in Oakland on April 6-7, so it won’t be until April 9-12 in Texas that the final three rotation spots come into play.

And the Mariners might need that time to sort out the bottom end of the rotation, where Hisashi Iwakuma has only thrown one inning so far in his Cactus League debut and remains a big question mark. Blake Beavan appears to be solidifying a spot with a good spring so far, Hector Noesi has looked good in a Cactus League start and a ‘B’ game and Kevin Millwood threw pretty well in a three-inning outing against the Cubs on Thursday.

So Iwakuma’s start today against the Dodgers will be watched closely by the Mariners. He goes in the afternoon game at 12:05 p.m. PT, with the four young pups — Erasmo Ramirez, Danny Hultzen, Taijuan Walker and James Paxton — slated to go tonight at 6:05 p.m. against the D-backs at Salt River Fields.

Given that all four are scheduled to pitch, the prospects likely will only throw two innings each. Realistically, they don’t figure in the immediate starting plans for the Major League club, but instead will likely open in the Minor Leagues. But they are forming impressions and it won’t be surprising if one or two find their way to the big club at some point this season.

Hernandez makes his next start Sunday at Scottsdale against the Giants and Beavan comes back Monday in Peoria against his former Rangers club. Tuesday’s starter against the Brewers hasn’t been scheduled yet, so it’ll be interesting to see if that goes to Millwood or Noesi, who both pitched five days earlier.

UPDATE 12:14 p.m.: The Mariners have announced that Noesi will start Tuesday’s game.

Here are today’s full lineups:

12:05 p.m. PT vs. Dodgers
Chone Figgins SS
Dustin Ackley 2B
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Justin Smoak 1B
Kyle Seager 3B
Miguel Olivo C
Michael Saunders CF
Casper Wells DH
Chih-Hsien Chiang LF

Hisashi Iwakuma RHP

6:05 p.m. vs. D-backs
Munenori Kawasaki 2B
Brendan Ryan SS
Mike Carp 1B
Jesus Montero C
Vinnie Catricala 3B
Mike Wilson RF
Luis Jimenez DH
Joherymn Chavez LF
Darren Ford CF

Erasmo Ramirez RHP

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