The Seattle Mariners have Felix Hernandez, who is arguably one of the best pitchers in baseball and a 2013 Cy Young candidate. In addition, the team has Hisashi Iwakuma, who is putting together a gem of a season with a 10-6 record and a 3.02 ERA for the year.
Who is towards the back of the rotation? Wait for it … Aaron Harang!
Let’s just say that the 5-10 record and 5.77 ERA are not exactly scaring anyone. Unfortunately, Danny Farquhar was unable to close out the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday night, which cost Harang an opportunity to get his sixth win.
Still, Harang is far from a long-term solution, and if one of the youngsters in Tacoma were ready to go, he would probably be out looking for work. This is the ongoing saga of a team that does not have the payroll commitment to fill out a complete team.
Certainly, the long-term plan is not without wisdom. You develop youngsters from within, keep the payroll within a manageable range, and augment with a few key veterans. Seattle has seen some signs of development this season, but the progress over the last few years has been painfully slow.
In the meantime, the Mariners have tried to paste together the back end of the rotation this season with the likes of Jon Garland, Jeremy Bonderman, Joe Saunders and the uninspiring Harang — not exactly a formidable group of pitchers. Saunders has had a decent season, but Garland didn’t make it out of spring training and Bonderman’s stint was brief and unimpressive (1-3, 4.93 ERA).
Welcome to MLB, where not all the teams get to have talent up and down the entire roster. It isn’t like Harang isn’t trying. He just isn’t particularly good, but in a league where pitching is at a premium, he can still find a job on a team like the Mariners.
At 35, Harang may be getting towards the end of the road. However, until Taijuan Walker, Danny Hultzen and James Paxton are ready to fill out the rotation, Seattle will have no choice but to keep giving the ball to Mr. Harang.