Tag Archives: Seattle Mariners starting rotation

Charlie Furbush – Shut-down Reliever or 3rd Starter?

I started this post before Dave Cameron at USS Mariner published his post about Furbush.  We think along the same line, although I believe Furbush may have a little higher upside.  Anyway, go read that and sorry we doubled up on topics today! 

Lately, Mariners starting pitchers not named Felix and Kevin have been bad.  Jason Vargas was awful yesterday and has already given up 20 home runs this year.  Hector Noesi shows flashes of potential has his moments but then gets lit up on 0-2 counts – although his location isn’t terrible and sometimes he’s just a victim of good hitting, regardless of what Geoff Baker would have you believe – and Erasmo has struggled thus far (although I believe he’s a lot better than what he’s shown).  The Mariners rotation is in trouble.

There is help on the way!  Danny Hultzen is finally in Tacoma and Taijuan Walker is still one of the top 2 prospects in the Mariners system.  James Paxton and a few others aren’t too far behind those guys.  Those guys (excluding Hultzen) are still probably a year or so away though so the M’s need to take steps to fix the pitching now.  That’s where Charlie Furbush comes in.

When Charles Roderick Furbush was traded to Seattle for Douglas Wildes Fister he was labeled a starter but after surrendering too many home runs and not impressing the front office, he was moved to the bullpen to be a middle reliever.  He started out by throwing several innings out of the bullpen, but has been used more as a LOOGY and has been quite successful at that.

Through his limited innings, his strikeouts have been higher (although he’s always had a pretty high K rate), his BB’s have been lower and his HR/9 have gone way down.  While starting, Charlie struggled against right-handed batters.  As Cameron points out in his post, last year Furbush gave up 2.08 HR/9 to right-handed hitters.  This year, in facing 48 right-handed hitters he’s only given up 2 home runs.  Sure, it’s a small sample size but it’s not like he’s been getting lucky and just avoiding home-runs either.  Right-handers have a slash line of .130/.167/.283 against him.  That’s an OPS of .450.  Oh, and against lefties he has a .341 OPS against.  Pretty good.

In a small sample size, his OPS against has been better on the road then in home games as well.  So, his progress can’t be attributed to Safeco (although, no doubt the park would help if he became a starter).

With Furbush’s pitches he could be a lock-down reliever for the next 10 years.  I have no doubts about that but with the way he’s pitching right now he could be a good middle-of-the-rotation starter, which is way more valuable to the team.

There’s more on why Furbush would succeed after the jump, including pictures! Continue reading

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