Monday, June 6, 2011

All-time Seattle Mariners starting pitchers

By Kshell

Yesterday I posted the all-time starting hitting lineup for the Seattle Mariners. Judging by the feedback and the number of views that was a successful post. Today I'll be dealing with the five man starting rotation which features some big names but not as explosive as the hitters were. The Mariners pitching staff today features one pitcher who is on the all-time staff already and has a few who can crack the rotation some day. Like I did with the hitters this list is strictly what you did as a Seattle Mariner so no Cliff Lee or Gaylord Perry on this list. All five of my starting pitchers made an all-star game wearing a Seattle Mariners uniform which is pretty good. Just like with my hitters some of these pitchers have quite the hardware as well. My pitchers are all connected as three of them were involved with trades with each other. One pitcher was teammates with three of the remaining four pitchers. One pitcher grew up idolizing another pitcher wearing his same number. While two pitchers went up against each other in one of the biggest games in Mariners history. Well I'll start now with my five man starting pitching staff in order of how I'd put them if I was setting up a staff.

1. Randy Johnson - LHP

Career statistics as a Mariner: 130-74(.637), 3.42 ERA, 1.25 WHIP. Threw 1,838.1 IP, 51 CG, 19 SHO, 2,162 K's(10.6 K's per 9), 2 saves

Career achievements: 1995 Cy Young award winner, Five-Time All-Star, Two-Time All-Star game starting pitcher, led AL in K's four times, won ERA title in 1995, threw No-Hitter in 1990, finished top three in Cy Young four times(runner up in 1993 and 1997)

Best Season: 1995 his Cy Young season where he finished 6th in MVP race: 18-2(.900), 2.48 ERA, 1.04 WHIP. 214.1 IP, 6 CG, 3 SHO, 294 K's(12.3 K's per 9)

When the Mariners traded away ace Mark Langston they received three minor leaguers one of which was Randy Johnson. Johnson the 6'10" wild pitcher nicknamed the "Big Unit" once led the AL in walks three years in a row. Once Johnson learned control in 1993 he was pretty dominant. In 1993 he finished second in the Cy Young race, then in 1994 he finished fourth. In 1995 he finally won the Cy Young. Then he was injured in 1996 only to return in 1997 and again finish second in the Cy Young race. Johnson led the American League in strikeouts four times and at the time of his trade in 1998 was leading the league in strikeouts again. Johnson was a power pitcher and while he went on to win four Cy Young's in Arizona he became a star in Seattle. He also saved baseball in Seattle.

In 1995 there was rumors that the team was going to move to Tampa Bay, Florida. As late as September 19th, 1995(my 10th birthday) the vote for the new stadium was voted down. The Mariners were in their first playoff chase led by Johnson who in September went 4-0 with an ERA of 1.91 and a WHIP of 1.06. He pitched 37 2/3 innings in five starts while striking out 53 batters. Johnson's big September paved the way for the greatest pitching week anyone has ever seen. Johnson in a seven day period would pitch in three games where if he lost the Mariners season would be over and a good chance would be moving. First Johnson faced the Angels in a one game playoff against the guy he was traded for Mark Langston. Johnson would get the win throwing a complete game, allowing just three hits and striking out 12 while allowing just one run. Then on three days rest again the Mariners were facing elimination down 0-2 would face the New York Yankees in game three where again Johnson got the win. Johnson would throw seven innings, allow just four hits while allowing just two earned runs while striking out 10 guys. Then in game five with the series tied at two games and the game tied at 4-4 in the 9th Johnson came into the game on one day's rest. He inherited a first and second nobody out jam and got out of it. Johnson once again got the win in relief pitching three innings, allowing just one hit and earned run while striking out six guys.

Add it all up with the Mariners season on the line in a seven day period Johnson went 3-0 with an ERA of 1.89 while striking out 26 guys in 19 innings. The Mariners didn't get support for a new stadium until after they defeated the New York Yankees in that playoff series. Had Johnson lost just once during that week the team isn't in Seattle today. For that Johnson will always be the staff ace of the Mariners.

2. Felix Hernandez - RHP

Career statistics: 121-88(.578), 3.12 ERA, 1.18 WHP. To date has thrown 1,969 IP, 23 CG's, 9 SHO, 1,857 K's(8.48 K's per 9)

Career achievements: 2010 Cy Young award winner, 5-time All-Star, led AL in wins(19) in 2009, led AL in ERA(2010), finished second in Cy Young in 2009. Threw perfect game in 2012

Best Season: His Cy Young season 2010 where he went 13-12(.520), 2.27 ERA, 1.05 WHIP. Pitched 249.2 IP, 6 CG's, 1 SHO, 232 K's(8.4 K's per 9)

When you look at what Felix Hernandez has already accomplished it is pretty impressive. Then when you stop and remember that he just turned 25 years old it becomes even more impressive. Hernandez has been the best pitcher in the American League since the 2009 season. Hernandez currently this season is leading the American League in strikeouts. While some people may hate him because he doesn't win enough although he has absolutely no control over that. Last year Hernandez was dominant but went 13-12 because the Mariners offense was terrible so was the bullpen.

The sky is the limit for Hernandez due to his age. Randy Johnson for an example didn't become a great pitcher until he hit his 30's. Hernandez someday could be the Mariners greatest pitcher they've ever had. Hopefully the Mariners can reach the postseason so Hernandez can get a chance to show the nation just how great he is. Recently Hernandez was voted as the third best player in baseball. Not third best pitcher but third best player overall. Like I said scary to think that Hernandez is only 25 years old and he has already won a Cy Young plus runner up the year before. The sky is the limit for Hernandez who wears #34 for his idol Freddy Garcia. When Hernandez is done nobody will be wearing #34 in a Mariners uniform ever again.

3. Jamie Moyer - LHP

Career statistics as a Mariner: 145-87(.625), 3.97 ERA, 1.25 WHIP. Threw 2,093 IP, 20 CG, 6 SHO, 1,239 K's(5.3 K's per 9)

Career achievements as a Mariner: 2003 All-Star, Finished fourth in Cy Young in 2001 and fifth in 2003

Best season as a Mariner: 2003 season where he went 21-7(.750), 3.27 ERA, 1.23 WHIP. Threw 215 innings, one CG and 129 K's(5.4 K's per 9)

When the Mariners traded for Jamie Moyer back in 1996 he was supposed to be just a rental. Randy Johnson had got hurt so the Mariners needed some pitching. Moyer would pitch for the Mariners until 2006 and was often the number two starter whether behind Johnson, Jeff Fassero or Freddy Garcia. Then in Moyer's last year the Mariners had an up and coming Felix Hernandez. Moyer is the franchise leader in wins and the ultimate battler as a pitcher. In nine full seasons with the team Moyer won 13 plus games in eight of those seasons. Moyer also won 20 games or more in two separate seasons which is also a Mariners record.

After throwing his shoulder out in his only playoff appearance in 1997 then was injured again in 2000 Moyer finally got another chance at the playoffs in 2001. Moyer was terrific in the playoffs in 2001 as he went 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA and a 0.83 WHIP striking out 10 in 12 innings against the Cleveland Indians. Moyer also won the must win game five to clinch the series 3-2 over the Indians. Then in the ALCS Moyer pitched seven innings, allowed just two earned, four hits and struck out five New York Yankees to win again. In the 2001 postseason Moyer went 3-0 with a 1.89 ERA pitching 19 innings and striking out 15. Moyer finally returned to the postseason and took advantage. He didn't throw very hard but proved that being intelligent is also a gift for a pitcher.

4. Freddy Garcia - RHP

Career statistics as a Mariner: 76-50(.603), 3.89 ERA, 1.29 WHIP. Threw 1,096.1 IP, 9 CG, 4 SHO, 819 K's(6.7 K's per 9)

Career achievements: Two-time All-Star, won ERA crown(2001), winning pitcher in All-Star game(2001), Third in Cy Young in 2001, Second in ROY in 1999

Best season: 2001 where he was the ace on a 116 win team. 18-6(.750), 3.05 ERA, 1.12 WHIP. Threw 238.2 IP, 4 CG, 3 SHO, 163 K's(6.1 K's per 9)

When the Seattle Mariners made the controversial decision to not resign Randy Johnson in 1998 they had to trade him. When they traded Johnson he was dealt to the Houston Astro's for three minor leaguers. Well one of those minor leaguers was Freddy Garcia. Garcia had a big rookie season for the Mariners winning 17 games and throwing over 200 innings. Garcia then became the staff ace for the 2000 playoffs once Jamie Moyer went down. In the 2000 ALCS against the Yankees Garcia went 2-0 with an ERA of 1.54 and WHIP of 1.20. He struck out 11 Yankees in 11.2 IP that series for the Mariners.

The following year saw Garcia start on opening day for three consecutive years. Although bashed on at times by the media Garcia had a productive career for the Mariners. Garcia some fans will remember in 2002 as the pitcher who retired the National League for his final two innings to cause the infamous tie game. Due to that tie game the all-star game decides homefield advantage for the World Series now. Garcia while with the Mariners wore the #34 which is now being worn by Felix Hernandez who looks up to Garcia. Although Garcia wasn't Randy Johnson the Mariners did well snatching a pitcher of his calibar in return for the Big Unit.

5. Mark Langston - LHP

Career statistics as a Mariner: 74-67(.525), 4.01 ERA, 1.37 WHIP. Threw 1,197.2 IP, 41 CG's, 9 SHO's, 1,078 K's(8.1 K's per 9)

Career achievements as a Mariner: 1987 All-Star, Two-time Gold Glove winner, led AL in K's three times, Fifth in Cy Young in 1987, second in ROY in 1984

Best season as a Mariner: 1987 his all-star season he went 19-13(.594), 3.84 ERA, 1.30 WHIP. Threw 272 IP, 14 CG's, 3 SHO's, 262 K's(8.7 K's per 9)

It all comes full circle the pitcher who started turned into Randy Johnson and then Freddy Garcia. Langston was the Mariners first legimate pitcher the franchise ever had. Langston was a power lefty who had four seasons where he struck out over 200 batters in just five full seasons for the Mariners. He led the league in strike outs in three of those seasons and like it was back then when it time for him to get paid the Mariners traded him to the Montreal Expos and received Randy Johnson.

Flash forward to 1995 standing in the way of the Mariners first ever playoff appearance was Langston. Langston who finished second in the rookie of the year in 1984 to teammate Alvin Davis was standing in the way. Back in 1984 fans who actually cared for the team had a vision it was Langston starting big games for the team. Well Langston actually had pitched well as the game was 1-0 heading into the bottom of the seventh. Then everyone remembers Langston's reaction after the fluke Sojo play where he just laid on his back in disgust. Langston was the franchises first great pitcher like Alvin Davis was the first great hitter.

In conclusion, my rotation has three lefties and two right handed pitcher. My list also has two CY Young award winners and all five pitchers had seasons where they finished in the top five of the Cy Young award. For four of my pitchers their game was centered around power and strike outs. For the other like Moyer he pitched to contact proving there is more than one way to be a successful major league pitcher. This would be a tough rotation to face though especially the 1-2 punch of Randy Johnson and Felix Hernandez. I hope you enjoyed my list and the order I put my starting rotation in. I don't feel like I left anyone out as I did my research. My lists feature a ton of recent hitters not because of my age but more to the fact the Mariners weren't a good franchise until the 1990's. I think this list shows that as three of my pitchers weren't on the Mariners before 1995. In fact four of my five pitchers were pitching in the major leagues as of 2009. So let the debate begin either on here or in my group. Just remember the Mariners have had some of the most dominant pitchers baseball has seen.

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