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August 5, 2009 at 8:30 AM

Jarrod Washburn gives “Mariners” rare double-feat in monthly pitching honors as replacement Luke French preps for debut

Something happened to Jarrod Washburn along the way to getting rocked in his Detroit Tigers debut last night. Washburn wound up being named the American League’s Pitcher of the Month for July, following up what Felix Hernandez did in June.
Washburn went 4-1 with a 1.44 ERA in 43 2/3 innings in July.
Technically, Washburn was still with the M’s when he qualified for the honor. And it’s rare for two Seattle pitchers to win Pitcher of the Month in the same year. Never back-to-back.

The only other time two M’s have done so came in 1997, when Randy Johnson and Jeff Fassero won the prize in June and September respectively.
And yes, that 1997 team went to the post-season.
Just goes to show you how good some of the starting pitching the Mariners had this season actually was. Doesn’t come around all that often. Had Erik Bedard not gotten hurt, who knows? But that’s all moot now.
Tonight, the Mariners will watch the Seattle debut of Luke French, the guy acquired for Washburn, along with Class A hurler Mauricio Robles.
Don’t expect French to win any Pitcher of the Month titles for August. He’s simply trying to solidify a rotation spot for next year. For starters, he can try going more than five innings. That’s become a luxury, it seems, since Washburn left.
But French is what he is. A guy who will compete for the No. 4 or No. 5 spot in the rotation next year. He doesn’t have the upside of an Ian Snell. And to judge the Washburn deal based off of his performance alone makes little sense. It’s going to take a couple of years at least for the Mariners to see what they got in Robles, who is only 20.
Robles was the real key to this deal. Had he not been offered, the Mariners might have gone with the Yankees as trade partners. So, watch French tonight and consider him in the light the Mariners are. Ask yourself if French could be as good or better than Ryan Rowland-Smith, Jason Vargas and Garrett Olson.
Because those three guys will be fighting for back end rotation jobs next spring as well. Brandon Morrow might be, too, if he isn’t traded over the winter.
The one thing we can say about the Mariners is, they’ve added depth to round out their rotation with. Think about it: a few months ago, when Morrow was still a closer, we were all sitting around wondering what was going to happen with the 2010 rotation.
Now, the M’s know they will at least have:
That’s not a bad start. And who knows? Maybe somebody like Dan Cortes, acquired in the Yuniesky Betancourt trade, somehow has a great spring and sneaks in there. You can always sign a free-agent arm to round things out as well, whether it’s Washburn or somebody else. And remember, Carlos Silva isn’t going anywhere with two years, $24 million left on his contract. He’ll be trying to earn a rotation job as well. And it’s getting tougher and tougher to do so in Seattle if you’re a No. 4 or 5 guy.
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Geoff Baker
Geoff Baker
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