MICHAEL GREY

Mariners rotation should benefit from health, depth in 2015

Feb 23, 2015, 5:08 PM | Updated: 5:11 pm

Taijuan Walker is one of three young players with MLB experience competing to be Seattle's fifth starter. (AP)

(AP)

The bullpen stood out as the Seattle Mariners’ strength last season, while improvements to the offense has been the story this offseason. There’s another piece of Seattle’s roster that is deserving of attention, though – the starting rotation.

Sure, the starters were good in 2014 led by another stellar year from ace Felix Hernandez, who fell just short of his second Cy Young Award. But injuries and consistency were problems in just about every other spot in the rotation – Hisashi Iwakuma started the season late and tailed off towards the end, James Paxton’s promising rookie campaign was derailed by a lengthy DL stint, and both Comeback Player of the Year Chris Young and rookie Roenis Elias ran out of gas just as the team was trying to secure a playoff spot.

It could be a much different story in 2015 for the Mariners. Felix is still Felix, while Iwakuma isn’t dealing with the finger tendon problems that plagued him a year ago, and Paxton and newcomer J.A. Happ figure easily into the 3 and 4 spots. As for the final turn in the rotation, Seattle has three young players with some Major League experience battling it out in spring training – highly touted 22-year-old Taijuan Walker, 26-year-old Elias and 24-year-old Erasmo Ramirez.

The health at the top of the rotation and depth at the end of it is something that has 710 ESPN Seattle’s Michael Grey buying into the Mariners as a contender this season.

“If they’ve got their horses ready to go in that rotation, it changes almost everything for this team,” he said on “The Michael Grey Show” Monday. “They go into the year with one of the best top-to-bottom starting pitching staffs in Major League Baseball, and with all of those guys dealing it makes it hard to make some choices down on the other end of the rotation. … What a fantastic place that is to be if you’re the Mariners, to have two guys that have pitched at the Major League level for you that you have high hopes for in the youngsters (Walker and Elias), and then a guy in Erasmo Ramirez who’s got Major League experience and if he can just get consistent that’d be super.”

To hear the conversation about the Mariners’ rotation, you can find it around the 26:30 mark of the second hour of Monday’s edition of “The Michael Grey Show.”

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