The Mariners open their season tomorrow morning against the Oakland Athletics playing in Japan. This is their first series of the season. Last year they were 10-9 against the A’s, and though the A’s finished 3rd in the AL West last year they’re expected to finish behind the Mariners after trading Gio Gonzalez and Trevor Cahill this offseason.
The Mariners left Hector Noesi, Hisashi Iwakuma, and Kevin Millwood off their active roster. That makes sense because Iwakuma pitched earlier this week, and the other two will be in the team’s starting rotation.
Seattle Mariners (0-0) vs. Oakland Athletics (0-0)
Felix Hernandez , RHP (3.15 xFIP in 233.2 IP in 2011)
Brandon McCarthy, RHP (3.30 xFIP in 170.2 IP in 2011)
Felix is coming off a down year by his recent standards, and only in terms of results, but I mean damn, he sure set the bar high. His 5.5 WAR last year was 10th among pitchers. McCarthy was a much different story. He was a reclamation project who was essentially cut by the Rangers, and ended up in Oakland on a one year deal. McCarthy upped his groundball rate last year, and walked fewer hitters, which led to better results that may be sustainable.
Jason Vargas, LHP (4.45 xFIP in 201.0 IP in 2011)
Bartolo Colon, RHP (3.57 xFIP in 164.1 IP in 2011)
I remember thinking “Wow, the Yankees are really desperate enough to bring in Bartolo Colon?” But Colon has undergone revolutionary medical treatment, and has regained some of the velocity of his youth, and some of his form as well. Vargas spent last year being Jason Vargas. He had the lowest xFIP of his career, but in his three years in Seattle he’s had xFIPs between 4.61 and 4.45. Last year he was Jason Vargas. This year he will probably again be Jason Vargas. Vargas hasn’t had baby parts shot into his shoulder, but he has adopted Felix Hernandez’s “twist.” That twist has led to a 12.46 ERA in spring and a .368 opposing average.