Kevin Millwood’s one-year tenure in Seattle saw him take two no-hitters into the sixth inning; the first no-hit bid last season ended in the seventh, and the second one actually was completed….by six different pitchers. Millwood was one of the surprises for the Seattle Mariners. He pitched surprisingly well in his final season as a Major League Baseball player, and now the Mariners have to come-up with a guy to fill into the spot on the rotation vacated by Millwood’s retirement.
It’s not going to be as easy as you guys think it’s going to be. I mean Millwood was pretty damn good last season, for a guy who was 37 years old that is.
In his final season, Millwood posted his second best ERA+ of 88 (league average is 100); a SO/BB of 1.91; a H/9 ratio of 9.4 (slightly better than 2011); and an HR/9 ratio of 0.7. Oh, and then there is the fact that he chewed up 161 innings during the 2012 season. Oh and by the way, Millwood recorded his 2,000th career strikeout last season. Considering that the M’s had signed Millwood to a minor league contract (actually called him up from Tacoma in late April), they got a lot of bang for their buck.
Since Millwood is supposedly retiring before this season, the M’s are in need of another #3 starter. So Jack Z went out and got several guys who could hopefully fill into the roster. In fact, two of these guys have yet to pitch in the Majors in one and two years, respectively. Jeremy Bondman, and John Garland have minor league contracts with invites to the Major League training camp; but Joe Saunders looks like he has locked up a spot in the rotation.
Whether it’s the number three spot or not, we don’t know how it will shake out going into the regular season. That being said, the exact way the rotation will shake out depends on how Spring Training shakes out. I see Saunders locking up the three whole, Garland/Bonderman and Ramierz/Beaven/Noesi are going to be in a competition for the fourth and fifth spots in the rotation.
What we do know is that the first two guys in the rotation are going to be filled by Felix Hernandez, and Hisashi Iwakuma; the three, four, and five spots are completely up for competition. This is going to be the most entertaining position battle, especially if one of the “Big 4” makes a run at that fifth spot.