With so much of the intended Mariners rotation scattered around so many trainer’s beds like ungathered bits of cord-wood, the M’s have plumbed the depths of their minor league system to burn innings. If it’s Tuesday, insert Chase De Jong here. It’s been tough.
Smyly, gone. Felix’s mushy arm. Paxton, forearm messed up. Iwakuma, inflamed whatever.
All that is left of the original starting five is Yovani Gallardo, and we could only WISH he was gone. But that would leave yet another hole in a rotation that seems to have found some stability (except when Gallardo pitches.)
If there is one guy I would point to as an anchor to the rotation in the horrifying no-mans land that has been the 2017 season, it would be Ariel Miranda.
Look, before we take apart Miranda’s numbers and hail his solid season, just a nod to Christian Bergman and Sam Gaviglio. When the various collections of Chris Hestons, De Jongs, Dillon Overtons, and Evan Marshalls all exploded figuratively, and in the case of Marshall, literally, those two were called up and have literally served as doorstops. Their stuff will never be confused with Koufax or Gibson (Bob not Kirk.) They will never be remembered with Joe “Iron Man” McGinnity, but they’ve kept the M’s in games long enough to score. They’ve given the Mariners and their fans an opportunity to remember there are still 104 games left to play, and they are only 2.5 games behind in the wild card standings, and they are only five teams left to jump over.
You might remember that Miranda came over in a trade with Baltimore. The M’s sent an overpriced and underperforming Wade Miley to the Orioles for the Cuban refugee who had struggled as both a reliever and as a starter at the major league level. Miranda finished 2016 trying to find himself, but it was my belief he’d pitched his way into the 2017 starting rotation.
Not so fast. By the end of spring training Miranda was ticketed for Tacoma until Smyly went down with his injury. And given how things have turned out that’s been a good thing.
Let’s be clear, Miranda isn’t perfect, but as depleted and challenged as the Mariners starting rotation has been in 2017, he may as well be. Miranda can throw too many pitches and burn up his available innings in a game, and he allows too many home runs. But since his May 9th start in Philadelphia when he was basically incinerated in a 3.1 inning outing, Miranda has been pretty good. Two short starts in National League ballparks in close games when Servais decided to pinch hit, but he has allowed two or fewer runs in the five games since Philly, including Sunday’s masterful complete game victory over Tampa Bay.
Here are some of Miranda’s accomplishments thus far.
- He’s made each of his scheduled starts, 12 to be exact.
- Miranda is 25th among the 80 pitchers ranked at ESPN for WHIP at 1.16
- He’s ranked 30th on ESPN and 20th on Fangraphs for WAR among pitchers at 1.5 and .9 respectively
- He has passed Wade Miley in walks, wins, WHIP, and FIP.
If James Paxton stays healthy and remains in the rotation as its ace, there is little reason to think Miranda isn’t a reliable lefty partner. Maybe not a number two guy, but as close to it as this team may get this year. It’s also likely hitters will begin to know him a little better and he may struggle more as the year continues.
I don’t believe Sunday’s complete game win was an accident. I still don’t think we’ve seen the best of Ariel Miranda yet, and he’s a guy worth watching.
Now, a word about Yovani Gallardo.