To the untrained eye it’s really hard to see the Mariners winning this series. One could make a strong results-based argument that the Mariners are at a steep disadvantage in every pitching matchup they’ll face. The advantage may not be that steep, though.
Hector Noesi (4.02 xFIP in 56.1 IP with Yankees in 2011)
Yu Darvish (Japanese super hero)
I have professed a man crush for Noesi this offseason, and almost immediately predicted that he may make Michael Pineda an almost-forgotten man in Seattle. I also talked a fair amount about Yu Darvish this offseason. I think Darvish will be fantastic, and that Noesi has potential to be fantastic, so I’m really excited for this game. I am probably more excited to see Noesi, but this game is an absolute must-watch for many reasons.
Blake Beavan (4.45 xFIP in 97 IP in 2011
Neftali Feliz (4.27 xFIP in 62.1 IP in 2011)
Another matchup of semi-unknowns in this game. Beavan is a guy that I think we actually know pretty well, but people assume that he can improve and will compare him to Doug Fister early in his career because of his size, control, and below-average velocity. I think those comparisons are kind of silly, and that Fister will regress (once he gets off the disabled list). Feliz has been destined to get a run in the rotation at some point in his career as the Rangers have been trying to get him out of the closer role for a couple years. That time is now. This is Feliz’s first career start. So yay! Now kill him Mariners!
Kevin Millwood (3.55 xFIP in 54.1 IP in Colorado in 2011)
Colby Lewis (2.53 xFIP in 6.0 IP in 2012)
This game is definitely the game to miss if you have to miss any game of this series. Millwood is synonymous with boring, as he’s like the walking definition of fourth starters, and Lewis may have lost some of the shine he had a couple years ago after returning stateside from Japan. Lewis had a rough year last year. Kevin Millwood actually pitched pretty well this year. This is probably the Mariners best starting pitcher matchup. So maybe you shouldn’t miss this game. I don’t know.
Jason Vargas (4.22 xFIP in 11.2 IP in 2012)
Derek Holland (4.13 xFIP in 6.0 IP in 2012
Vargas and Holland is the only game in the series that features two pitchers who have both already pitched this season. We have 2012 data for both pitchers. They’ve both been alright. However, the Ballpark at Arlington is probably the worst place Jason Vargas could ever pitch. If Jason Vargas signed with Texas at some point it would be a worse choice than Jamie Moyer signing with Colorado, especially if you remove the fact that Jamie Moyer is almost eligible for a senior citizen discount. You may know Holland as the guy who was offered to the Mariners in exchange for Cliff Lee, along with Chris Davis as the Rangers low-balled the Mariners.