MLB Team News & Rumors: Seattle

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Seattle Mariners

Our expert from,Shawn Childs, helps you prepare for your big fantasy baseball draft.

Seattle Mariners Team Projection

Here are my fantasy baseball player profiles of the Seattle Mariners starting pitchers and relievers.

1. SP Felix Hernandez

Felix Hernandez fantasy baseball

Hernandez has been a great pitcher during his major league career, but he only has a 110-86 record. Felix has only won more than 15 games once during his career. Furthermore, Seattle has only averaged 72 wins per season since he has been a full time starter. Hernandez has averaged 13 wins per year over his last 8 years. Last year, Felix had the best command (2.0) of his career, which led to a career high K rate (9.5). His strikeout rate has risen in each of the last 5 seasons. Hernandez was elite after the first 4 months of 2013 (11-4 with a 2.34 ERA with 158 K's in 143.7 innings), but tried to pitch through a sore back late in the year. Over his last 5 starts in August, Felix had 3 poor starts (19 runs and 34 base runners in 27 innings), which led to him missing 3 starts in September. He finished the year with a 1-6 record over his last 8 starts with 5.77 ERA. His AFB (91.9) has declined over his last 3 seasons and it is well off of his rookie year (95.8). His changeup continues to be his #2 pitch, followed by a curveball and a changeup. Hernandez has pitched over 200 innings during his last 6 seasons and has made 30 or more starts in his last 8 years. He has an elite arm with an improving skill set (despite a declining fastball). Seattle should be better in 2014, which gives the King a chance at 15+ wins and a sub 3.00 ERA. Excellent fantasy ace who is reaching the prime of his career.

2. SP Hisashi Iwakuma

Hisashi Iwakuma fantasy baseball

Overall, Iwakuma had a great 2013 season. He pitched the most innings of his career with elite command (1.7) and slightly higher K rate (7.6) than 2012 (7.3). Hisashi had equal success against RH (.223) and LH (.218) batters. He pitched very well at home (2.86 ERA with a plus walk rate {1.0}), but was actually better on the road (2.45 ERA), even with less command {2.5} and a lower K rate {7.0}). Iwakuma allowed 2 runs or less in 21 of his 33 starts. He allowed no runs in his last 3 starts of the year (23 innings). Other than a 5-game stretch between June and early July (22 runs in 29 innings), Hisashi was electric. His success last year was better than his Japanese resume (3.25 ERA with 2.0 walk rate and 6.9 K rate), but he did flash one elite season in 2008 when he went 21-4 with a 1.87 ERA. Iwakuma has pitched over 200 innings twice during his career. Both times in the following season, he struggled with injuries, which limited his innings to 169 and 119. Hisashi doesn't have a plus fastball (89.5). His 2nd best pitch is a split-finger fastball, followed by a solid slider and show me curveball. He has a nice arm, but he did overachieve his skill set in 2013. I expect some regression with some injury risk downside. His resume leads me to believe Masahiro Tanaka may be undervalued in 2014.?Update: Iwakuma suffered a finger injury on his pitching hand in mid February. He is expected to miss 4 to 6 weeks, so there is a good chance he will be ready for the start of the season.

3. SP Taijuan Walker

Taijuan Walker fantasy baseball

Walker pitched well enough at AAA and in the majors in 2013 where he is expected to make the Mariners starting rotation in 2014. His K rate (9.7) has been strong at every level of the minors, but his walk rate (3.6) really hasn't shown a lot of growth. He did throw more strikes at AA (3.2 walk rate), but he regressed at AAA (4.2). In his 3 starts in the majors, he did throw strikes (2.4 walk rate), but his K rate (7.2) declined. At AAA, RH batters hit .315 against him with 4 HR's in 29.7 innings (.222 in the majors with only 2 K's in 18 at bats). Taijuan was very good against lefties in the majors (.194) and AAA (.161 with 35 K's in 27.7 innings). However, Walker did struggle with walks to LH batters (5.5 walk rate) at AAA. He has a plus fastball (94.7) and throws a cutter as his #2 pitch, followed by a curveball and a show me changeup. Taijuan is a high upside pitcher, however, his command suggests it won't be an easy ride over a full season in the majors. I like the development of his cutter, but he needs to find a secondary pitch to get righties out at a higher rate in the majors. His innings should be capped at 180 this season. I'd draft him with a 3.75 ERA in mind with WHIP risk and possibly 150 K's if he pitched the whole year with Seattle.

4. SP James Paxton

James Paxton fantasy baseball

Paxton held his own in 4 starts in the majors last September, highlighted by 10 K's in 7 shutout innings in his last start of the year. James pitched much better with Seattle than he did at AAA (4.45 ERA). He has had poor command (4.0) throughout his minor league career with a declining K rate as he moved up through the system (12.9 at High A in 2011, 11.8 at AA in 2011, 9.3 at AA in 2012, and 8.1 at AAA in 2013). Paxton has a career 3.48 ERA in the minors with 390 K's in 364.7 innings. James has an electric fastball (94.9). Furthermore, he throws a plus curveball as his #2 pitc,h followed by a developing changeup and an occasional cutter. In his 4 starts with Seattle, Paxton had a plus GB rate (59.1%). James doesn't look like he is ready to make an impact in the majors. He has talent to surprise, but his lack of command will lead to inconsistency. High WHIP risk with a possible trip to AAA in his 2014 future. A fantasy player needs to avoid his September trap and not overpay.

5. SP Scott Baker

Scott Baker fantasy baseball

Baker has been bothered by an elbow injury over the last couple of years, and ended up needing Tommy John surgery in April of 2012. He was able to make 11 starts between the minors and the majors last year, finishing with a 5.46 ERA in the minors with only 16 K's in 29.7 innings. Scott also struggled with HR's (6) in the minors. He did have success with the Cubs in September (3.60 ERA), but HR's (3) and K's (6) were still an issue. His AFB (88.4) was more than 2.5 mph below his career average. Furthermore, he threw a slider as his #2 pitch, followed by a changeup and curveball. For some reason, the value of his curveball was a lot less. Baker should be the favorite for the 5th starting job, but he needs to gain his velocity back on his fastball. HR's have been a problem during his entire career and it could be a huge problem with a short fastball. His fantasy value will be determined by his appearances during spring training.

6. SP Erasmo Ramirez

Erasmo Ramirez fantasy baseball

Ramirez doesn't have the upside talent of Walker or Paxton, but he has outpitched them during his minor league career. Erasmo is 44-20 in the minors with a 3.16 ERA with 472 K's in 586.7 innings. His walk rate (1.6) has been elite in the minors, but it hasn't been as strong at AAA (2.5). His K rate (7.2) isn't anything special. With Seattle last season, Ramirez struggled over his first 5 starts (7.06 ERA with 29 K's in 27.3 innings), but he started to find his rhythm in mid August. Erasmo allowed 3 runs or less in 6 of his next 7 starts (2.81 ERA), but he had a short K rate (5.6). He has a decent fastball (92.2) with 2 solid secondary pitches - slider and changeup plus a show me curveball. When he pitches poorly, Ramirez tends to give up the long ball. Last year, he struggled with his command to LH batters with the Mariners. Erasmo won't look sexy when matched up with the young talent in Seattle's system, but he may be the pitcher that makes the biggest step forward in 2014. Low K upside with a chance at a sub 3.75 ERA this year.

7. SP Brandon Maurer

Brandon Maurer fantasy baseball

Maurer was the young arm that made the biggest impact during spring training (3-1 with a 1.50 ERA and 25 K's in 24 innings) in 2013. His success led to him earning a starting role in the majors. The preseason hype ended quickly when he was drilled for 12 runs in his first 2 starts with the Mariners over 6.7 innings. Brandon bounced back with 3 quality outings (4 runs in 19 innings) before slowing fading off into the sunset over his next 5 starts (22 runs and 48 base runners in 23.7 innings). Maurer didn't pitch great at AAA (5.21 ERA), but was able to make it back to the majors in late July. Over his last 10 outings (4 starts), Brandon had a 4.07 ERA with 35 K's in 42 innings. He finished 2013 with respectable command (2.7), but a short K rate (7.0) and a high HR rate (1.6). Maurer allowed 10 of his 16 HR's to lefties with a poor walk rate. His AFB (92.8) was league average. His #2 pitch is a plus slider, followed by a curveball and changeup. Brandon has a career 3.85 ERA in the minors with 341 K's in 369.7 innings. His command was stronger in the lower levels of the minors. His resume looks scattered, but Maurer may have the deepest pitching arsenal of any of the arms ready to pitch in the majors. Possible upside, but a fantasy player may need a short leash.

8. SP Roenis Elias

Roenis Elias fantasy baseball

The Mariners really don't have any great options at the back end of their rotation if one or more of their young arms break down. Elias pitched well at AA in 2013 (3.18 ERA with a 8.4 K rate), but his command (3.5) declined from his 2012 season at High A (2.5). Overall, he has a career 3.61 ERA in the minors with 290 K's in 326.7 innings. Elias doesn't really have much between him and the majors. Blake Beavan and Hector Noesi have been terrible and they are really the only 2 arms in front of him with major league starting experience. He defected from Cuba in October of 2010. Elias should start the year at AAA.

9. CL Fernando Rodney

Fernando Rodney fantasy baseball

After an elite season in 2012, Rodney's skill set regressed last year. His walk rate (4.9) was a huge negative as it was from 2008 to 2011. It looks like his 2012 success (1.8 walk rate) is the outlier and it may not be repeatable ever. However, Fernando did set a career high in K rate (11.1). The increase in walks was due to less first pitch strikes (56%). In addition, his AFB (96.5) was a career high. However, the only other pitch he throws is a plus changeup. Rodney continues to be a GB pitcher (50.6%). While he was dominant against RH batters (.169), his command (24 walks in 133 at bats) against lefties led to less success. Fernando was a much better pitcher over the last 4 months (2.45 ERA with no HR's allowed in 44 innings and a 3.5 walk rate). While Rodney has an elite fastball and swing and miss changeup, his command is a concern and his sinker really didn't have any value against LH batters (.370). Overall, it's his job to lose in Seattle. Fernando has 172 career major league saves.

10. RP Tom Wilhelmsen

Tom Wilhelmsen fantasy baseball

I'm sorry, but I just can't see Danny Farquhar as the closer for the Mariners. Wilhelmsen was a complete train wreck after May 1st last season (6.42 ERA with 25 walks and 26 K's over his last 35 innings in the majors). Prior to June, Tom was a very stable closer (12 SV's and 2 runs allowed in 24 innings with 17 K's). Maybe the early decline in his K rate (6.9) should have been a sign of future failure, but his velocity (AFB - 96.2) was in line with 2012). It looked like he just lost his confidence in June when he allowed 13 runs over a 9-game stretch (8 innings). Wilhelmsen started to rebound in late June and early July (5.7 shutout innings with no walks and 4 K's). He even converted 8 of 9 saves in July while allowing 4 runs in 12.3 innings. The nail in his coffin happened on August 1st, when he was drilled for 4 runs that earned him a ticket to AAA. Overall, his K rate (5.0) spiked upward from 3.3 in 2012, while his K rate (6.9) plummeted. Tom dominated RH batters (.144) all season, but he couldn't throw a strike to a lefty (21 walks in 110 at bats with only 18 K's). His #2 pitch is a curveball, followed by a changeup. Overall, he could throw first pitch strikes, which led to less value in his curveball (especially against LH batters). Wilhelmsen doesn't have a great resume, so he has a lot to prove in spring training. With an offseason to clear his head, I expect him to regain his previous form.

11. RP Danny Farquhar

Danny Farquhar fantasy baseball

Oh Danny boy has a challenging resume. Last year, he handled himself well as the closer for Seattle over the last 2 months of the year (2.38 ERA with 16 SV's and 29 K's in 22.7 innings). He only blew 2 saves in August and September, while allowing runs 3 times in his last 29 appearances (1.69 ERA). Before 2013, Danny had only pitched 2 innings in the majors. In 2012, he pitched for 4 different organizations in the minors (Sea, Oak, NYY, and Tor). Farquhar has 69 SV's in his minor league career with a 2.87 ERA. His biggest down fall from the 9th inning has been his walk rate (3.9). It did make a step forward in the minors in 2012 (2.8), while his command (1.8) was elite in his first 20 innings at AAA for the Mariners in 2013. However, his walk rate was 3.6 in the majors. RH batters hit .265 against him, while he dominated LH batters (.171). His AFB (94.5) has upside, but he only threw it 29.8% of the time. Maybe his recent success has been the development of his cutter (#1 pitch - he threw it 49.6% of the time in the major in 2013). Danny also threw a solid curveball. Farquhar may have improved his skill set with the cutter, but his command, resume, and lack of success against RH batters will lead to him pitching somewhere other than the 9th inning in 2014.

12. RP Yoervis Medina

Yoervis Medina fantasy baseball

Medina started his career as a starter for the Mariners before being switched to the bullpen in 2012. He has a solid fastball (94.1) and a plus slider, but lacks command (5.3). Last year, he had a solid season for Seattle, even with his high walk total (40 - 7 intentional). He had success against both RH (.209) and LH (.191) batters. Yoervis did flash some upside in July when he only walked 1 batter in 12.7 innings, but his command faded badly in August (15 walks in 16.7 innings). Medina has a career 3.84 ERA in the minors with 433 K's in 497 innings. His skill set clearly moved forward as a reliever, but his command gives him no chance of pitching in the 9th inning.