Lots of pitching questions in the air as homestand plays out
The Mariners pitching rotation stands as a topic of considerable intrigue heading into the remainder of this homestand, though we do know Felix Hernandez will be back on the mound tonight at Safeco Field after pushing his start back an extra five days following some lower back soreness.
Felix will be pitching on 10 days’ rest, so it’ll be interesting to see how he does against the Padres in the 7:10 p.m. Interleague contest. The Mariners ace hasn’t been sharp lately, even before the back issue, He’s a very un-Felix-like 1-4 with a 6.14 ERA in his past five starts and has allowed 42 hits in 29 1/3 innings.
So there’ll be a lot of watchful eyes on Hernandez, especially with the rest of the Mariners rotation in a bit of flux as well right now. Hector Noesi pitches Wednesday against the Padres and he’s lasted just 4 and 4 1/3 innings his past two outings. Those both wound up as no-decisions, but he’s lost his last three decisions and is now 2-6 with a 5.99 ERA.
Kevin Millwood is coming off six no-hit innings as part of Seattle’s combined no-no on Friday, but the veteran left that game with a mild groin strain and we won’t know until this afternoon if he’s likely to pitch Thursday. For the moment, that spot is being listed as TBA in the rotation.
If Millwood can’t go, the Mariners likely would move Jason Vargas up to Thursday as he’d still be on a normal five-day rotation given the off-day Monday. For now, Vargas is slated for Friday against the Giants, with Blake Beavan to follow on Saturday.
Beavan could also move up a day and still be on normal rest if Millwood needs more time. But Beavan himself is a little iffy lately, coming off a two-inning stint against the Dodgers. The 23-year-old could be in jeopardy of losing his own rotation spot, should the Mariners want to promote rookie Erasmo Ramirez from Tacoma.
So there are a lot of potential moving parts in the rotation at the moment.
One thing we do know: The Padres are bringing lefty Clayton Richard tonight, followed by right-handers Jason Marquis and Edison Volquez on Wednesday and Thursday.
Then there’s some pretty interesting arms coming with the Giants this weekend, with Ryan Vogelsong on Friday, Tim Lincecum on Saturday and Madison Bumgarner on Sunday. It will be Lincecum’s first chance to pitch at Safeco Field against the Mariners, a long-awaited matchup that ironically now comes with the two-time NL Cy Young winner struggling wtih a 2-7 record and 6.00 ERA.
But Lincecum grew up in Renton, pitched for the University of Washington and was disappointed when the Mariners passed over him in the Draft, so it will be interesting to see how he performs on Saturday.