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Mariners blog

Daily coverage of the Mariners during the season and all year long.

February 16, 2010 at 12:31 PM

Podcast: Jarrod Washburn and a lefty-laden rotation

It’s a bright and sunny day down here in Arizona as we prepare for tomorrow’s opening of Mariners camp with pitchers and catchers reporting for their physicals. Remember, we’ll have our first edition of Geoff Baker Live! tonight at 6 p.m.
Some of you have written in to say you would like to see Jarrod Washburn among those pitchers. Washburn, as you may know, is still out there as an unsigned free agent. He has hinted at retirement, though you never know with those kinds of statements.
One thing that would be interesting with a Washburn signing: the fact it would guarantee the Mariners a three-lefty starting rotation. While teams like to talk about doing such things, it remains a rarity.
The Mariners have not had three lefties make 20 or more starts in their rotation since 1999, when Jamie Moyer, John Halama and Jeff Fassero turned the trick.
Moyer went 14-8 with a 3.87 ERA, Halama was 11-10 with a 4.22 ERA while Fassero was 4-14 with a 7.38 ERA. So, a mixed bag and no playoff result for a team that saw plenty of post-season action from 1995 through 2001.
Though the temptation is always there for teams to negate lefty hitters with a southpaw-laden rotation, there is the flip-side of starting too many lefties back-to-back and the potential downside that could bring.


Obviously, with three lefties out of five, you’d have to start some on back-to-back days (or games, depending on off-days). There is a school of thought that lefty hitters can adjust to the oddity of seeing a southpaw if they face them twice in a short timespan.
Here’s the other thing: if you sign Washburn, this team could have four southpaws in the rotation once Erik Bedard comes back.
The Mariners have some experience with this, since last season was their first since 1999 in which three southpaws made at least 15 starts: Washburn, Bedard, and Ryan Rowland-Smith. You also had Jason Vargas at 14 starts. But some of those, clearly, were injury replacement and spot-start outings. That’s very different from beginning a year with somebody and hoping to finish it with them.
So, we’ll see what the Mariners decide to do.
Washburn has the track record of a No. 3 or No. 4 guy and could be better than three guys in the current rotation right now. But if he was signed, the M’s would be hoping that — if all goes well — they would have a rotation with Lee, Rowland-Smith, Washburn and Bedard come June. And that, my friends, would be a true baseball rarity for such an extended period — with the pros and cons that go with it.
What do you think?

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