BY SPNW Staff 01:50PM 03/21/2012

Mariners' Eric Wedge Settles On 5-Man Rotation

Two newcomers, youngster Hector Noesi and veteran Kevin Millwood, will join with three holdovers to form the Mariners’ starting rotation.

Despite a 12.46 ERA this spring, Jason Vargas will hold down the No. 2 spot in Seattle's starting rotation. / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Northwest

Jason Vargas, Hector Noesi, Blake Beavan and Kevin Millwood will follow  Mariners ace Felix Hernandez in te starting rotation, manager Eric Wedge announced said Wednesday. Hernandez will start when the Mariners officially open the season March 28 in Tokyo against the Oakland Athletics.

Hernandez, 14-14 last season, will be making his fifth Opening Day start. Randy Johnson made the most Opening Day starts for the Mariners, six between 1992-98.

Vargas, who went 10-13, 4.25 in 2011, will start the second Tokyo game against the Athletics March 29.

Wedge said that Noesi would start an exhibition game against Hanshin March 25 and that Hisashi Iwakuma would get the call in a second exhibition contest March 26 against the Yomiuri Giants.

Iwakuma, a one-time Japanese standout, was a rotation candidate but will start the season in the bullpen.

“Quite frankly, I think that’s the best way to transition him this year, with the history he had last year with health, introducing him to this game and helping him get off to a good start,” Wedge said.

Putting Iwakuma in the bullpen allowed the Mariners to keep Millwood after a strong spring by the 37-year-old right-hander.

“He made this ballclub,” Wedge of Millwood. “He made the decision for us just by the way he pitched and competed.”

The rotation has four right handers and one left hander, Vargas.


RHP Felix Hernandez (14-14, 3.47)

Felix Hernandez

Hernandez opened the 2011 season with a 5-hit, 6-2, complete-game effort against the Oakland A’s.

But he ended the season sourly, losing his final three, one to the Yankees and a pair to Texas.

The Mariners posted a 17-16 record in Hernandez’s 33 appearances, largely because they scored an average of just 3.27 runs when he started.

Hernandez is 85-67 in his seven-year Seattle career (debut Aug. 4, 2005). His 85 wins rank third in franchise history behind Jamie Moyer (145) and Randy Johnson (130).

Hernandez started three games this spring, going 2-1 with a 1.38 ERA. He had his other Opening Day assignments in 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2011.

LHP Jason Vargas (10-13, 4.25)

Jason Vargas

Vargas, who has been with the Mariners since 2009, began the 2011 season pitching behind Fernandez in the rotation, but quickly fell to third after Michael Pineda, since traded to the Yankees, emerged.

Vargas made 32 starts in 2011. He threw four complete games and three shutouts.

His best outing occurred June 19 vs. Philadelphia when he allowed the Phillies just three hits in a complete-game win.

Vargas has not had a very good spring with a 1-2 record and 12.46 ERA in three starts. In his most recent outing, Vargas didn’t even get through the first inning, allowing seven earned runs on eight hits.

RHP Hector Noesi (2-2, 4.47)

Hector Noesi

Acquired by the Mariners as a sidebar in the Jesus Montero/Michael Pineda blockbuster last winter, Noesi is a pitch-to-contact-type whose act may play better at pitcher-friendly Safeco Field than in less-forgiving Yankee Stadium.

A native of Esperanza of the Dominican Republic, the 6-foot-3, 200-pound Noesi appeared in 30 games in 2011, getting two starts, while working 56.1 innings. That is the extent of his major league career.

Noesi has two starts this spring. He has a 1.80 ERA in 5.0 innings and a .176 batting average against. Noesi threw three innings of one-run ball in Seattle’s 7-4 win over the Brewers Tuesday.

RHP Blake Beaven (5-6, 4.27)

Blake Beavan

The 24-year-old Beavan made his major league debut July 3, 2011, by allowing three hits and one run over seven innings in a 3-1 victory over the San Diego Padres at Safeco Field. He went on to appear in 15 games, all starts, working 97 innings.

Beavan came to the Mariners in mid-2010 in the Cliff Lee trade with the Texas Rangers that also netted Jason Smoak.

He spent the balance of the 2010 season pitching for the Tacoma Rainiers, for whom he also pitched in 2011 before his summons to Seattle.

Beavan started four times this spring (tied for the team high), and has a 1-1 record and 2.35 ERA (15.1 IP). Beavan helped cement his case for a spot in the rotation by holding opponents to a .214 batting average.

RHP Kevin Millwood (4-3, 3.98)

An innings eater, Millwood pitched 15 seasons for Atlanta (1997-02), Philadelphia (2003-04), Cleveland (2005), Texas (2006-09), Baltimore (2010) and Colorado (2011). He has a career record of 163-140 with a 4.10 ERA.

For the Rockies last season, Millwood went 4-3 with a 3.98 ERA in nine appearances, all starts.

Millwood has twice won 18 games, with Atlanta in 1999 (18-7, 2.68 ERA) and again with the Braves in 2002 (18-8, 3.24). He led the American League in ERA in 2005 (2.86), and the National League in starts (35) in 2000. Millwood made his only All-Star appearance in 1999.

Millwood represents a nice, low-cost addition to the Mariners. While the Mariners acquired Montero from the Yankees, they sacrificed Pineda.


  • Jamo57

    Thanks for the morning chuckles, always a good way to start the day.     Pre-draft press conferences are always good for blowing smoke and these two can blow smoke with the best of them. (Remember the twitter feeds with songs with hidden draft clues?)   I could see them trading down, picking up some picks and then drafting someone no one has ever heard of if they think the LBs or DEs are too risky at number 12.

    Or maybe they weren’t blowing smoke, just making everyone think they were blowing smoke.   

    Or maybe….

  • Cute article. So as a recap, these are the reasons (for not drafting Tannehill) that you list:

    1. He started his college career as a wideout – Is there proof that converted players have a higher rate of failure in the NFL?
    2. He started only 19 games as a QB. Is there even a definitive link between college starts and NFL effectiveness? 
    3. Other QBs have busted past years when drafted in the first round.
    4. The Seahawks signed a free-agent QB that has started two NFL games. 

    Did reading any of the many scouting reports across the web cross your mind, perhaps? You know – things that actually provide a window into Ryan Tannehill the potential NFL QB?This article is quite surprising coming from you, Art, because it’s so, so poorly argued.

  • Rusty

    Loved the lead…I just about blew coffee all over my monitor.

  • Lover

    Poor argument, we have 2 serviceable qbs on the roster, tannehill would be 3rd string and wouldnt play this  year. Heck maybe Flynn turns out to be a good QB and tannehill sits for 4 years… Topple that with a good running game and solid defense, Seattle makes the most sense opposed to Cleveland, Miami, Indy, or Washington. oh and uh… face

  • Soggyblogger

    Fun story. I learned very little, but I am not complaining. Do what you do best, Art. Be funny. The world is full of serious writers, especially in the sports field. I couldn’t wade through all your serious stuff while you were in Tokyo. I might have missed a few laughs hidden in there somewhere, but you seemed infused with a Japanese seriousness while in Tokyo. 

    You have been ignoring the draft more than most sports writers, and I am hoping you will chime in with a Mock Draft. Or a Mock the draft story. Or maybe a sockem mockem draft story…..

  • Brad

    I don’t understand your argument here. You’re saying not to take a QB in the first round because they are usually failures. True enough, I guess, but some of them turn out to be great. 

    If anything I would say that, so far in PC’s tenure, this is the best year to risk a first round bust. Given the moves made in free agency to help fix some glaring needs on the roster, added with Schneider’s knack for finding talent in the later rounds and UDFAs, I don’t see a position where the Hawks NEED to go in round one.

    Also, can we please let the Whitehurst situation go. They went out and got a back up QB. It also turned out they ended up needing a decent(ish) backup QB that year. Did they pay too much for him, maybe. Did it do any long term damage to the club, no. Ask a Cardinals fans what paying too much for QB feels like. 

  • Hume Cory

    Seems like the Vikings at #3 could be pushing the QB Guru Holmgren has him  under consideration rumor. Trade down with the Dolphins? Qbs 123?

  • Jtkxyz

     notaboomer, you’re a class act.  You post a stupidass comment like that and yet have your children’s photo on your profile pic?  Way to go.     

  • notaboomer

    intelligent children get my joke. 

  • Jtkxyz

    Please look up the word “intelligent” before you use it.  And while you’re at it, “joke.”

    Another bit of advice, stop at two, the gene pool doesn’t need the added stress.