With the Mariners opening up Cactus League play today, much trepidation still exists as to whether or not GM Jerry Dipoto needs to go out and secure another starting pitcher for his rotation.
Since the beginning of the free agent period, Dipoto has repeatedly stated his comfort rolling into 2018 with his current rotation of James Paxton, Felix Hernandez, Mike Leake, Erasmo Ramirez, and presumably Marco Gonzales. This “stand pat” rhetoric continues to draw the ire of many who believe that by not acquiring another impact pitcher (a #3 starter or better) the Mariners are simply sealing their fate of missing the playoffs for the 17th year in a row.
While signing a Yu Darvish (update: now signed by the Cubs), Jake Arrieta, Alex Cobb or Lance Lynn certainly would be an upgrade to the rotation, the Mariners believe spending big money on any one of the aforementioned players is not necessary in order to reach their goal of playing meaningful games in October.
Rather, the general thought is that continued advancement by Paxton, a return to health by Hernandez, and full seasons from Leake and Ramirez to go along with a very solid bullpen and a potent offense, the Mariners will have enough fire power to end their playoff drought.
As we detailed in an earlier piece, Dipoto is most likely correct in his rotation assessment (health permitting) given the high quality of his offense, defense and relief corps. Such a standpoint relies on the notion that with increased health will come increased games started. Which, in turn, will result in more quality starts (at least six innings pitched, three or fewer earned runs given up) and thereby leading to more wins.
In other words, while investing a ton of years and dollars into an impact pitcher like Darvish would help the Mariners’ efforts of getting into the playoffs, so too would a mere increase in quality starts from the Mariners’ projected rotation.
One of those who is a steadfast believer of needing such impact starting pitching is Jason Churchill over at Prospect Insider. In a recent article describing what one could expect to receive if the Mariners – heading towards another non-playoff season in 2018 – decided to blow things up and trade off its veterans for prospects, Churchill makes the following conclusory statement:
“Of course, all of the above becomes 100 percent moot if the Mariners are the upstart and end up legitimate contenders in July. But this year it would be a surprise due to a lack of impact additions this winter, and the time to connect the two ends of the hoop is near.”
It was an interesting comment for a couple of reasons. First, it went against one of Churchill’s earlier podcasts where he proposed fixing the Mariners rotation by signing free agent pitchers Jeremy Hellickson and Jhouyls Chacin, both of whom would be anything but impact additions. And second, it disregarded the significance (if any) of receiving the type of expected production from a starting rotation not stricken with catastrophic levels of injuries, as was the case last season.
Accordingly, we decided to reach out to Churchill via Twitter to get his take on what a healthy rotation could mean for the Mariners in 2018. What transpired was an interesting tit-for-tat on the subject of quality starts versus impact starts as it relates to the Mariners rotation and their chances of reaching the playoffs.
Quality starts versus impact starts is an important examination because not only will the issue intensify as the remaining top three free agent pitchers – Arrieta, Cobb and Lynn – ostensibly sign with other teams, but the success of the Mariners’ season will hinge greatly on whether the projected rotation can stay healthy and provide the team the type of quality starts that last year’s rotation could not.
Of course, there is great validity of what the addition of a bona fide ace can do for a team looking to get into the playoffs. But there is the danger of falling into the singular mind-set that without the addition of a bona fide ace, the season is destined for failure. And statistics and history both show that such a belief isn’t necessarily true.
What follows is our “conversation” with Churchill on the subject of quality starts versus impact starts, along with annotation to illustrate some of the pros and cons of each side of the argument.
So, without further ado…
Jason Churchill: Of course, all of the above becomes 100 percent moot if the Mariners are the upstart and end up legitimate contenders in July. But this year it would be a surprise due to a lack of impact additions this winter, and the time to connect the two ends of the hoop is near.”
Mission Mariner to Churchill: “Not sure M’s need impact. Rather, just need starts from the projected rotation. 78 wins w/ last year’s staff was a feat. This year’s team is similar to the 2000 squad: great offense, good defense, solid pen. Top four SPs averaged a 4.80 ERA but 29 starts. Result: 92-70 & playoffs.”
Annotation: The gist of the initial comment is to present the question whether adding impact is as necessary as Churchill believes it is. Or, alternatively, would just an increase in mere games started actually be good enough?
The implication here is that adding an impact pitcher like Darvish or Arrieta is not necessary if the Mariners’ projected rotation could consistently take the ball every fifth day and give the team quality outings, something the Mariners did not receive last year due to the rash of injuries to the rotation. In other words, would a rotation of added quality be good enough despite lacking added impact?
The Mariners’ 2000 squad contained just one impact pitcher in Aaron Sele while the remainder of the staff – Paul Abbot, John Halama, Jaime Moyer, and Freddy Garcia – consisted of middle to back end starters. Despite that quintet of starting pitchers producing a combined (and near league average) ERA of 4.64, they tallied 69 quality starts and the team won 92 games buttressed by very good offense, strong defense, and solid relief.
Churchill to Mission Mariner: “Look around. What good teams aren’t getting impact for more than 24 starts? I will save you the time: zero is the answer. Including the Twins last year, even though I wouldn’t consider them a good team.”
Annotation: Churchill responds by focusing on what the Mariners lacked last year, which was games started by impact pitchers.
Churchill tosses out the number 24, which is a reference to Paxton’s 24 starts and the inference that the Mariners ace is the only impact starting pitcher on the team. This is an interesting position to take as impact starting pitchers are those normally projected as #3 types or better, which would make Leake, and maybe even Hernandez, part of the impact pitching equation moving forward.
Nevertheless, Churchill’s estimation seems to be that impact starting pitchers are those who project no less than a #2. Which would mean that the only impact starting pitcher available in free agency is Darvish. Perhaps one could make the argument that Arrieta is a #2 starter. However, that is a tenuous position to take considering over the past few years Arrieta has seen his production regress significantly. Any team that signs Arrieta would be wise to do so under the expectation of continued decrease in production, which would make Arrieta no more valuable than Lynn or Cobb.
That aside, Churchill’s main premise here is that last year the Mariners were the only team to receive less than 25 impact starts (again, arguable given who toed the rubber for the Twins and Rockies), and therefore, are not a good team.
Put another way, Churchill is taking the position that “if a team does not receive more than 24 impact starts, then it is not a good team.”
Of course, for a premise to be true, its contraposition also has to be true. All it takes is a quick look around baseball – past and present – to know that the following is a fallacy: “if it is a good team, then it is one that receives more than 24 impact starts.”
Which brings us back to the initial question: Given the Mariners’ offense, defense and bullpen, is a Mariners rotation that provides quality, rather than impact, good enough to lead the team to the playoffs?
Seemingly, Churchill’s answer is “no” based on the limited number of starts by Paxton. Churchill does not seem to give credence to the fact that last year’s rotation received only 68 starts from its projected starters and, as a result, was forced to rely on a bevy of minor league pitchers. Churchill also does not acknowledge that last year was last year and, moving forward, ignores what full seasons from Paxton, Hernandez, Leake, and Ramirez could bring.
Instead, Churchill contends that having just one impact starter does not a good team make. Moreover, unless the Mariners sign Darvish or trade for another #1 or #2 type starter, the Mariners can essentially kiss the post-season goodbye.
Mission Mariner to Churchill: “I’m looking, & see a Mariners staff that lost 90 starts from its projected rotation due to injury. Again, the M’s didnt need to add “impact.” They just need starts from their current rotation with non-impactful league average production. Do that, and the M’s see the playoffs.”
Annotation: The intention here is to highlight the rash of injuries suffered by the rotation and to, again, question the actual need for adding impact pitching by emphasizing how an increase in games started by a mostly quality (i.e. non-impactful) rotation should be enough to propel the Mariners into the playoffs even if the rotation produced roughly league average production.
On the surface, it might a bit of a reach to predict playoffs. However, as mentioned earlier, the Mariners rotation in 2000 contained only one impact starter and the team made out pretty well.
Similarly, in 2002, the Mariners rotation included just one impact starter in Freddy Garcia, and their top five starters averaging a 4.05 ERA that was just slightly lower that the league average ERA of 4.26. Yet, that year’s rotation produced 82 quality starts and the team finished with 93 wins.
Conversely, in 2010, the Mariners rotation presented two of the best impact-starting pitchers in baseball in Hernandez and Cliff Lee. The league average ERA that season was 4.26, and at the July 4 mark the Mariners top five starters – led by Hernandez (3.03) and Lee (2.34) – combined for a 3.55 ERA. However, the Mariners’ record was an underwhelming 34-47 and the team stood 14 games out of first place. As a result, Lee was traded to the Rangers and the Mariners would go on to lose 101 games.
Churchill to Mission Mariner: “And no, not ‘great’ offense… A lot of things need to happen that didn’t before in order for that to end up being true. A lot.”
Annotation: Churchill takes issue (serious issue?) with last year’s offense referred to as “great.” Relating the current Mariners offense to the 2000 Mariners offense was not to be taken as exactitude but, rather, metaphorically.
A ballpark estimate, if you will.
Regardless, Churchill appears to have a far more negative take on the Mariners offense. Since no explanations are given, the assumption here is that Churchill is relying on something like runs scored where the Mariners finished seventh in the league. Which, admittedly, is not “great” but still good enough to put them in the same offensive neighborhood as the Red Sox, Twins and Rangers, and better than such wild card contending teams as the Orioles, Angels, Blue Jays and Rays.
While runs scored is an important statistic, it is not necessarily the best lens to look through when trying to determine the true ability and worth of an offense. Uncontrolled dynamics such as park factors (elevation, humidity, playing surface, dimensions etc.) and injuries can affect the totality of runs scored.
As such, a better path to take is to rely on statistics that assess an offense’s ability to create runs rather than just adding up how many runs actually crossed the plate.
In that endeavor, wOBA and wRC+ are better barometers of a team’s offense.
Mission Mariner to Churchill: “In the AL, the M’s finished 5th in wOBA, & 4th in wRC+. Those should only improve w/ the add of Gordon. Not “great?” We can call it “really good” then. Doesn’t change the point the M’s dont need to add “impact.” They need starts (health) from their rotation.”
Annotation: Briefly, wOBA evaluates a player’s overall offensive value or, in other words, how well a player’s offensive ability contributes to scoring runs. Similarly, wRC+ also weighs a player’s ability to create runs. However, it adjusts (or normalizes) for league and park factors. In doing so, wRC+ allows for a more accurate comparison to other players and teams when assessing the ability to create runs.
As noted, the Mariners ability to create and score runs in 2017 was good. How good? In terms of wRC+, better than every team in the league other than the Astros, Yankees and Indians. And in terms of wOBA, it was better than every team other than the Astros, Yankees, Indians and Twins.
Regardless of whether one wants to call that “great” or “really good,” having a top four or five team in run creation mitigates the necessity to field a rotation bursting with impact.
Furthermore, with the addition of Dee Gordon; the continued improvements of Mitch Haniger, Mike Zunino, and Ben Gamel; a return to health by Guillermo Heredia and Robinson Cano; and a bounce back season by Kyle Seager, those numbers should only improve in 2018.
Commentator A to Mission Mariner: “Even with the rise in dingers ERA in 2000 was a lot different from ERA in 2017. 4.92 average AL ERA 2000, 4.36 in 2017.”
Annotation: At this point, other people are beginning to throw their two cents into the conversation. Here, Commentator A brings up the point that, on average, ERA’s across baseball were much higher in 2000 due to the steroid infused offensive upsurge of that time. And he’s correct. Nonetheless, those Mariners teams from 1999 to 2002 consisted of just one impact pitcher in their respective rotations, yet were still good enough to post slightly better than league average numbers to help their teams produce 90+ win seasons.
Mission Mariner to Commentator A: “That’s the point. In 2000 the rotation produced roughly league average ERA. The current rotation doesn’t need “impact.” It needs starts from it’s projected SPs with around league average production which was a 4.38 ERA last year.”
Annotation: To clarify, the 4.38 ERA was incorrect as that was the combined league average ERA for starting pitchers and relievers in 2017. The average ERA for starting pitchers in 2017 was actually 4.54.
Looking at the projected top four starting pitchers for the 2018 Mariners, one will see that in 2017, Paxton (2.98), Felix (4.36), and Leake (3.92) produced ERAs well under 4.54 while Ramirez ended up just north of the league average at 4.74.
Among the two AL wild card teams, the Twins’ top four starters produced ERAs of 3.28 (Santana), 5.07 (Gibson), 3.89 (Berrios) and 4.50 (Maija) which is not all that far off from the Mariners. The Yankees top four starters were better, but not by a wide margin: 2.98 (Severino), 4.74 (Tanaka), 3.88 (Montgomery), and 3.69 (Sabathia).
The point here is not to contend that the Mariners starting rotation was better than that of the Twins or Yankees, but to simply underline the point that the major advantage gained by the Twins and Yankees’ rotations was games started, not impact.
Churchill to Mission Mariner: “No, they did not lose 90 (it’s actually 84) because the rotation was injured. Maybe get that right first and then take a fresh look at it.”
Annotation: Churchill jumps back in and discerns between 90 and 84 games lost to injury. Curiously, there must be importance in Churchill’s mind about a difference of six games or else he would not make it a point to indicate that such a difference warrants a “fresh look.”
However, without Churchill providing any details, whatever point he is trying to make falls moot. Left alone, the difference between 90 and 84 games is a wash, as the overarching point is that whether 90 or 84 games, it was a lot of games. A TON of games. In fact, the Mariners top four projected starting pitchers for 2017 missed a combined 438 games due to injury. That will cripple any team’s chances of making the playoffs.
Commentator B to Churchill: “Um…don’t be a dick.”
Annotation: A different explanation for Churchill’s comment is thrown into the mix. A better explanation than “being a dick” is probably Churchill just trying to be flippant. Clearly, not everyone saw the humor in it.
Mission Mariner to Churchill: “Um, are you really quibbling over +/- a few starts (84 vs 90)? Put another way, the M’s top four projected SPs started a combined 46 games. Increase that number to, say, 110 and the rotation suddenly has a “fresh look” to it.”
Annotation: It seems self-explanatory that had the Mariners top four starters remained healthy, they would have made over twice as many starts and, therefore, most certainly given the Mariners a greater chance to add to their 78 wins.
For example, with 60-70 more quality starts, it is reasonable to believe the Mariners could have picked up, say, eight more wins. If that had been the case, the Mariners would have ended the year with 86 wins and been owners of the second wild card.
Just a few weeks ago, PECOTA came out with their 2018 projections and had the Mariners finishing second in the AL West with a record of 83-79 and missing the playoffs by just one game to the Tampa Bay Rays. One of the driving forces for the Mariners going from 78 wins to 83 wins was just the mere projection of full seasons of from Paxton, Hernandez, Leake and Ramirez. Here, PECOTA projected an average of 26 starts from each starter and a combined 50 quality starts.
Last season, 57% of the games started by Paxton, Hernandez, Leake and Ramirez ended up being quality starts. Over a full season in 2018, that would project to 11 more quality starts (73) than the Mariners received from all 17 starters used in 2017.
Commentator C to Churchill: “You know that’s not what he’s saying.”
Annotation: It’s still unclear whether Churchill’s comment regarding 90 lost starts verses 84 lost starts actually has importance, or if it was just him being pedantic. It is also possible, however, that Churchill is the type that simply becomes hyper-focused on mere technicalities.
Regardless, what is most noteworthy about this comment is the following response it elicits from Churchill.
Churchill to Commentator C: “I have no idea what he’s saying. Sounds like he’s saying it’s a 90-plus win team.”
Annotation: So at this point things begin to get a bit peculiar as Churchill starts throwing out some puzzling stuff.
First is the “I have no idea what he’s saying” comment. Either Churchill is lying, or he is a complete dolt. On four separate occasions, it is stated:
- “Not sure M’s need impact. Rather, just need starts from the projected rotation.”
- “Again, the M’s didnt need to add “impact.” They just need starts from their current rotation….”
- Doesn’t change the point the M’s dont need to add “impact.” They need starts (health) from their rotation.
- The current rotation doesn’t need “impact.” It needs starts from it’s projected SPs….”
Given the number of times the subject was stated, it is fairly nonsensical for Churchill to play possum. After all, a handful of casual observers to the discussion understood, so it is hard to believe Churchill was the only person left standing in a complete state of confusion.
Then again, maybe what Churchill was trying to say was that although he understood what was being stated, he simply disagreed. For argument’s sake, that could be a possibility. Most everyone would agree that a full season of Darvish would be a significant improvement to the rotation. However, as previously shown, that also does not mean that full seasons from Paxton, Hernandez, Leake, and Ramirez would also not be a significant improvement to the rotation.
Then there is Churchill’s “90-plus win team” claim. Nowhere is it asserted that this is a 90-plus win team. Churchill is either not paying attention, or is responding while sitting in a pub throwing back a few pints of Guinness.
If it is the latter then, I get it. If not, then it seems Churchill has gone rogue with the truth.
In trying to gauge Churchill’s angle regarding this comment, one explanation could be that he is of the opinion that to obtain the second wild card, it will take 90-plus wins to do so. That could be a valid estimation, and undoubtedly adding someone like Darvish would help in reaching that win total.
However, last year the Twins took the second wild card with just 85 wins, and most 2018 projection systems see the second wild card requiring somewhere between 84-89 wins. In addition, over the past five seasons, only once has a team needed to win more than 90 games to secure the second wild card. Moreover, the Rays, Angels, Twins and Blue Jays will most likely be the teams competing with the Mariners for second wild card, and none of those teams looks to be on the threshold of breaking the 90-win ceiling.
Commentator D to Churchill: “dude you misread that tweet.”
Annotation: Commentator D bring up another valid possibility. Churchill may have just simply misread the comment.
Commentator C to Churchill: “He basically is saying that the planned M’s rotation missed a ton of starts last year and that if they had remained healthy they would have won more games.”
Annotation: Bingo! We have a winner.
Churchill to Commentator C: “LOL. If they were healthier they would have won more games. GENIUS!”
Annotation: Maybe Churchill does not understand that the goal is to actually win more games.
Obviously, adding an impact starting pitcher would help in winning more games. But, as Churchill seemingly admits, so too would a healthy rotation. Which again begs the question: how many more wins would the Mariners have gained by simply having a healthy rotation?
Maybe Churchill’s opinion is that a healthy rotation would not win enough games to secure a playoff berth? Perhaps. However, a decimated-by-injuries rotation nearly made the playoffs last season. So, what if the Mariners had received 25-30 starts each from Paxton, Hernandez, Iwakuma, Smyly & Gallardo?
In other words, what if the Mariners had received a full season of games started by a rotation consisting of one impact pitcher, three #3 pitchers, and a #5 pitcher? Good enough to get the Mariners into the playoffs last year? I think most would agree that it would have been.
How about adding a #3 starter in Alex Cobb? Would Paxton, Hernandez, Cobb, Leake and Ramirez be good enough in 2018? Again, per Churchill, we are talking about a rotation still consisting of just one impact starter.
Then there is the fact that the Astros made a deal this offseason to acquire an impact starter in Gerrit Cole . However, Cole produced a worse ERA (4.26), and was worth the same amount of wins (3.1), as Leake, who is not considered an impact starter.
Mission Mariner to Churchill and Commentator C: “Church knows what I’m saying. He’s just being a bit obstinate. Which is somewhat surprising. No biggie. Everyone is entitled to a bad day.”
Annotation: Time to throw some snark back at Churchill. Given how the issues have been spelled out for him, and the fact others easily clued in on the questions being asked, one can assume Churchill clearly understands. Oddly, though, Churchill is reluctant to address the issue. No counter facts, rebuttals, or explanations. Rather, just a lot of redirection.
Churchill to Mission Mariner: “Lol. Literally had no idea what you were trying to say. But go ahead and blame me for it. It had nothing to do with the way you worded it, not at all you were perfect.”
Annotation: Churchill does not take the snark well. Moreover, while his response indicates that he now understands, Churchill still avoids the issue and, instead, decides to take the fallacious path of ad hominem.
Mission Mariner to Churchill: “Given the comments, you seem to be the only one who didn’t understand. Again, the Mariners top 4 projected SPs in ’17 started a combined 46 games. Increase that number to, say, 105-110 starts, & there’s that “impact” you say the M’s didn’t go get. It’s not difficult.”
Annotation: Churchill is kindly reminded that the only person who outwardly voiced any confusion was he while a handful of others seemed to quickly understand the question(s) being presented.
More pertinent to the discusssion, however, is the fact that the Mariners received just 46 combined starts from Paxton, Hernandez, Iwakuma, and Smyly in 2017. The inference, again, being that receiving a significant increase in games started (i.e. health) from the Mariners’ projected rotation in 2018 would – by itself – produce “impact.” (See what was done there?)
In 2017, Paxton made 24 starts, tallied 14 quality starts, and the Mariners won 10 of those quality starts. Hernandez made 16 starts, had seven quality starts, and the team won four of those quality starts. How about Ramirez? He made 11 starts, produced seven quality starts, and the Mariners won three of those quality starts. Leake, you ask? Five starts, four quality starts, and the team winning two of those quality starts.
(Note: For the season, Leake made a combined 31 starts, had 18 quality starts, and his teams won 11 of those quality starts. Compare that to Darvish who made 31 combined starts, tallied 19 quality starts, and his teams won 11 of those quality starts.)
So, what does that all mean?
Combined, that is 56 starts, 38 quality starts, and 19 quality start wins. Over a full season with Paxton, Hernandez, Ramirez and Leake each making 25 starts in the rotation, the Mariners would project 61 quality starts and 33 quality start wins just from their top four starters. That is not only a substantial upgrade over 2017 which would result in a lot more wins, but it would also reduce a great deal of wear and tear on the bullpen.
Commentator E to Mission Mariner: “But the pitching on the roster isn’t good. Hasn’t been good for a few years. If the thought is youre ok with Felix. Paxton. Kuma. Ramirez. Gonzo. Leake. Miranda. And Moore. You have two 3s and a bunch of 4-5s. It’s a big ask for Kuma and felix to last and bounce back.”
Annotation: Commentator E brings up three points of concern: 1) The pitching has not been very good the past few years, 2) The Mariners do not have a #1 starter, and 3) It’s hard to believe that Iwakuma and Felix can stay healthy and bounce back to their respective previous form.
While the concerns are all valid, health (or lack thereof) rather than ability seemingly sits at the epicenter of resolving all three points of worry.
While the pitching has not been very good the past few years, the biggest reason for that has been injuries.
In 2016, Hernandez, Paxton and Taijuan Walker all struggled with injuries. And despite Paxton showing the stuff and makeup of a true #1, his inability to stay off the disabled list has hindered his stature of being a bona fide ace.
As for Iwakuma and Hernandez, the issue of “bouncing back” has less to do with rediscovering their former ability, but more to do with regaining their health. If they can do that, both Iwakuma and Hernandez should still be able to produce solid numbers.
Mission Mariner to Commentator E: “The question is whether the Mariners rotation is good enough? What Church misses on is that rotations don’t require impact 1 thru 5 when there is impact in the pen, the offense, & solid defense. Getting 25+ starts from our 1, two 3s, 4 and 5 will be a huge upgrade.”
Annotation: The point here is that the Mariners have a lot of talent on offense, defense and in the bullpen. As such, would that type of support behind a healthy Mariners rotation be good enough to result in seeing the playoffs in 2018?
Again, over a full season with the Mariners’ top four starters each making 25 starts, the foursome would project 61 quality starts and 33 quality start wins. That nearly matches what all of the Mariners starting pitchers tallied last year, and would certainly prove significant in the win column.
Churchill to Mission Mariner: “OK. You’re 100% right. That good enough for you to STOP trying to convince me?”
Annotation: Churchill is amiss in his approach to the interchange. The objective is not for him to be “convinced.” Rather, it is for Churchill to try and “convince” others of his position via fact, proof, or some other form of validation. Or, at the least, to provide some substantiation for why he believes the way he does. Whether one is convinced or not is unimportant. There is no shame in agreeing to disagree.
Unfortunately, Churchill seems to be of the notion that his opinion is unquestionable.
Churchill to Mission Mariner: “Also, clearly you do NOT understand what impact means within this conversation. Even if every projected starter made all 32-33 starts, they’d lack impact in the rotation, because they’re a group of 3-5 starters after Paxton.”
Annotation: I guess Churchill did not “see what was done there?” when placing quotation marks around the word impact.
In addition, rather than address the merits of the discussion, Churchill again chooses more ad hominem. Interestingly, however, Churchill’s response presents the exact premise repeatedly expressed indicating why the Mariners current rotation is actually good enough to lead the team to the playoffs if healthy and able to make a full season of starts.
Which brings us to the irony in the entire discord – does Churchill actually understand what impact starting pitching is?
As stated earlier, impact starting pitching is generally considered as #3 type starters or better. Even a quick glance over at Fangraphs and one can find impact starting pitching defined as “being a third starter or better.”
Yet, Churchill presumably is of the position that impact starting pitching is that of a #2 starter or better.
Maybe this is just Churchill’s own personal opinion. Which would make some sense given Churchill’s condition of “within this conversation” thereby suggesting the existence of a different understanding of “impact” beyond the boundaries of this exchange.
If one is to accept the customary understanding of what an impact starting pitcher is, then the Mariners will enter 2018 with arguably three impact starting pitchers in the form of Paxton, Leake and Hernandez. And if one is to believe Ramirez will produce like he did in 2015 when he started 27 games, produced a 3.51 ERA, and averaged roughly six innings per start, then the Mariners will begin the 2018 campaign with possibly four impact starting pitchers in its rotation.
Mission Mariner to Churchill: “Holy Christ, that’s the point. The Mariners don’t need so-called “impact.” They simply need starts (aka health) from their current projected rotation. Not sure how much clearer – or how many more times – it can be stated.”
Annotation: In a nutshell, it is about quality starts versus impact starts.
Churchill to Mission Mariner: “You’ve made it very clear you don’t understand what impact starting pitching is. But feel free to dig the hole a little deeper. You know, because you don’t know how to shut the fuck up for your own good.”
Annotation: Some colorful word choices from Churchill. And some projection from Churchill regarding impact starting pitching. But, ultimately, just more ad hominem rather than addressing the merits of the discussion.
Commentator F to Churchill: “Why dont you stop being so tongue in cheek Jason and be a professional and explain to this poor fan exactly what impact pitching is?”
Annotation: Commentator F brings up a very good point. No, not the part about Churchill being a professional. Rather, the idea that if Churchill actually believes there is a non-understanding as to impact pitching, then explain what it is he is trying to convey.
In other words, by providing some facts and reason as to why Churchill believes the Mariners’ rotation needs added impact, the analysis might be found interesting, informative, and actually persuasive. Which, again, should be the desired outcome of any interaction.
Commentator G to Churchill: “Jason I think you have a general idea of the point he’s trying to make. No need to be a dick about it. You’re just being rude and disrespectful.”
Annotation: Churchill’s entire interaction summed up in three short sentences.
Churchill to Mission Mariner: “You’re Blocked. You can’t follow or see @ProspectInsider’s Tweets.”
Annotation: Well, to say the least, being “blocked” by Churchill was a somewhat surprising and disappointing ending. Especially considering that nothing offensive was ever stated.
Nevertheless, it was a stark reminder that people who think their shit don’t stink, do not like to be reminded that their shit actually does stink.
Truth be told, though, one won’t know how the rotation will perform or what the effect an increase in quality starts will have until the season is in full swing.
Yet, if Dipoto stays true to his word and does not add to his current projected rotation, what we do know is that the Mariners starting staff will consist not only of one of the best pitchers in the American League, but a #2 starter who finished seventh in the Cy Young Award just two seasons ago; a #3 starter who produced a 3.92 ERA last year; a #4 starter who owns a 4.25 ERA over 82 career games started; and a #5 starter once considered the #50 rated prospect in all of baseball prior to undergoing Tommy John surgery.
Will that type of rotation be good enough help lead the Mariners to the playoffs? Hard to say.
But impact or not, if health remains on the Mariners side, then no one should be all that surprised if the Mariners find themselves knocking down the door to the playoffs.
I’m pretty sure Dipoto won’t be.