Projected Rotation, Lineup, Bullpen & Bench 2.0

Full rosters are in Seattle Mariners camp this week and I thought it’d be fun to start the conversation into what the roster might look like if the season started today and as of Opening Day.

But rather than just projecting 25 players to make the roster, let’s toss out lineups, rotations, bullpens and benches, eh?

This is version 2.0,



Alright, let’s get this started with the Starting Lineup, one versus RHP, one versus LHP. Reminder: This is a projection, not what I would do, and I’m assuming Ryon Healy will NOT be healthy to start the season and that is reflected in these projections. If that changes, so will the projections.

Starting Lineup Versus RHP

ORDER
PLAYER, POS
BATS
 1   Dee Gordon, CF R
 2 Jean Segura, SS  L
 3  Robinson Cano, 2B  L
 4  Nelson Cruz, DH R
 5  Kyle Seager, 3B L
 6  Mitch Haniger, RF R
 7  Mike Ford, 1B L
 8 Mike Zunino, C R
 9 Ichiro Suzuki, LF L

Pretty standard. I’d use Kyle Seager in the No. 2 spot versus RHPs because I want Seager to get more PAs than Dee Gordon, but I don’t suspect Seattle will do anything but bat Gordon No. 1 or 2, no matter who is on the mound. At least early in the year.

Ichiro replaces the injured Ben Gamel, who could be out through April with an oblique problem.

Starting Lineup Versus LHP

ORDER
PLAYER, POS
BATS
 1  Jean Segura, SS R
 2 Dee Gordon, CF L
 3  Robinson Cano, 2B  L
 4  Nelson Cruz, DH R
 5  Mitch Haniger, RF R
 6 Kyle Seager, 3B L
 7  Mike Zunino, C R
 8 Mike Ford, 1B L
 9 Guillermo Heredia R

Ford, a lefty bat, has always handled himself nicely versus left-handed pitching, so I left him in the lineup. The Mariners do not have a platoon option there for him anyway, unless they want to use backup catcher Mike Marjama there — no experience, not a bat — or Cameron Perkins. Perkins’ presence on the 25-man would mean someone else is not. Presumably, in this scenario, Heredia.

Perkins has 34 innings of work at first base in his professional career and while with work he certainly could handle it, I’m not convinced his bat plays, either, but he’s a better bet than Marjama and better usage of the roster than sticking your No. 2 catcher at first base.

So this comes down to Ford, a lefty stick, with Heredia on the roster, versus Perkins,a righty bat, with no Heredia.

Here’s Ford and Perkins versus LHP the past two seasons. Perkins all at Triple-A, Ford in three stops.

PLAYER
AVG
OBP
SLG
K%
Mike Ford .280 .386 .452 22.1
Cam Perkins .312 .368 .500 13.1

Not exactly an easy, obvious decision. If Heredia’s shoulder isn’t sound, it’ll make for an easier choice, but if he’s right, it’s a tough one, especially considering Gordon, the regular centerfielder, is new to the position. But we may have just triggered a legitimate roster possibility that wasn’t apparent two weeks ago when Healy was presumably healthy… but maybe should have been.

Perkins versus Heredia is a tough choice all by itself.

Heredia is a legit CF option, Perkins is more of a ‘sure, in very short stints and you don’t want him as your main No. 2, even’ but he’s also a better bet to hit for a little power and brings more position versatility as an emergency third base option.

Both player are 27, so we’re not talking about young, developing prospects, but one can see either warranting one of the final spots on the roster come March 29.

I have to wonder if Perkins gets the regular nod over Ford at first base to start the year, particularly if Heredia is ready to go and the club expects Healy back by mid-April — which is eight weeks out after a 4-6 weeks suggestion last week by the club.

Either way the lineup is balanced enough to do whatever they want in the short-term, but for the record, Ford is the better overall hitter and playing first removes the athletic advantage Perkins brings.

For now, I would project the bench to look like this:

Bench

POS
PLAYER
C Mike Marjama
OF Guillermo Heredia
UT Andrew Romine

Yep, a three-man bench early, which means a deeper bullpen. This will not likely remain this way all year, but with the weather, arms not being stretched out optimally and the recent history of some of the Mariners pitchers falling to the DL, this is what I expect as of today.

It’s NOT what I’d do, but that’s a roster construction story, not a projection one. Taylor Motter is probabl a close second for the utility role, and Gordon Beckham appears healthy, which is the only thing he needs to be a better player than Romine or Motter.

Zach Vincej could be a factor here later in the season.

Perkins is in play here, even if he’s not the regular first baseman.

Rotation

ORDER
PITCHER
1 James Paxton, LHP
2 Felix Hernandez, RHP
3 Mike Leake, RHP
4 Erasmo Ramirez, RHP
5 Marco Gonzales, LHP

Due to the odd schedule to start the season — the Mariners do not play their fourth game of the year until the sixth day of the season and have four days off before playing 12 games — we could see Gonzales skipped, but he cannot be sent to Triple-A without having to clear waivers first.

So, technically, he could be in the bullpen when the season opens, getting his first start as late as April 13. April 8 is another legit possibility. It depends what the Mariners’ workload plan is early in the year, and perhaps how the first week goes in terms of team and individual results.

This could change dramatically should the club acquire a veteran starter they want to get regular rotation work from the get-go, and they may simply use such an approach with Gonzales, too.

Non-roster players that may come into play here include Hisashi Iwakuma and Christian Bergman.

Rob Whalen and Andrew Moore are high on the call-up list should injury creep up again, as is Max Povse.

Bullpen

ROLE
PITCHER
HL1 Edwin Diaz, RHP
HL2 David Phelps, RHP
HL3 Juan Nicasio, RHP
HL4 James Pazos, LHP
MR Nick Vincent, RHP
MR Dan Altavilla, RHP
MR Marc Rzepczynski, LHP
MR Chasen Bradford, RHP

The final spot awarded to Bradford could go to a number of arms, including lefties Sam Moll or Ariel Miranda or right-handers Shawm Armstrong, Nick Rumbelow or Mike Morin.  Rumbelow has had a neck problem this month that cost him a legit shot at the opening-day roster.

One can argue Shawn Armstrong over Bradford but the club already DFA’d Armstrong this month, essentially choosing Bradford over Armstrong once. No reason that changes, unless injury pops, especially since Bradord remains on the 40-man.

I’d prefer Miranda gets stretched out to start should the need arise  — and it will, you know it, I know, the American people know it — but there’s a relief role that fits his game, too.

Altavilla has yielded one baserunner — no walks — and the slider has more depth that a year ago. While it’s a super-small sample, the release of Tony Zych and injury to Rumbelow open the door for Altavilla and he’s running through it right now.

Other names that could be a factor in this include Non-Roster invitees Ryan Cook, Ryan Garton and Art Warren, but Cook’s health has been a concern the past few years and both Warren and Garton have options.

I don’t expect Matthew Festa, Ljay Newsome and my new favorite Wild Card arm Johendi Jiminian to be serious roster considerations right now, but any and all could be later in the season. Newsome has been a starter but a move to the pen could change his pitching profile a bit.

The true Wild Cards here, unfortunately, is Phelps. He’s made two appearances this spring, one went just fine and the second, not so much. If that was a performance problem, there are no issues here. If that was a physical issue … big problem.

Jason founded Prospect Insider in 2006 after getting his start at InsidethePark.com. He spent several years covering prep, college and pro sports for various newspapers, including The News Tribune and Seattle PI. Jason spent 4 1/2 years at ESPN and two years at CBS Radio prior to joining HERO Sports in July, 2016.

Find Jason’s Mariners podcast, Baseball Things, at BaseballThingsPod.com.

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