Servais: Mariners’ Jarred Kelenic, Kyle Lewis both primed to break out at plate
The Mariners finally had a good showing offensively on Monday night after a rough month of May so far, and their two young outfielders were right in the middle of their 4-2 win over Oakland.
Jarred Kelenic walked and scored the night’s first run to open the game, and he crushed his second home run in the big leagues a few innings later. Kyle Lewis, meanwhile, had two walks and drove in a pair of runs with a mammoth homer to left.
Tuesday on The Scott Servais Show, the weekly visit with the Mariners manager on 710 ESPN Seattle, Servais said both players have been playing better than their numbers have shown this season and that he expects Monday to be the tip of the iceberg not just for Kelenic and Lewis but the lineup as a whole.
“It has been a challenge for us offensively, there’s no question about it. I mean, we all see it,” he said. “We see the numbers, but not just to us – it’s around the league that offensive numbers are down. But I do believe, and I’ve said this from day 1 this year, that we will continue to get better as the season goes along.”
Kelenic, Seattle’s highly-touted rookie left fielder, is just 6 for 41 (.146) in his first 11 big league games, but Servais is impressed with approach and demeanor.
Smell ya later. pic.twitter.com/WX5prSzkkW
— Seattle Mariners (@Mariners) May 25, 2021
“I think Jarred, even though everybody gets caught up in his batting average, he’s doing a pretty good job. He’s swinging at the right pitches, he doesn’t swing and miss much,” Servais said. “He’s going to catch a streak here where he’s probably going to go 14 for 20 or something like that, or he’s going to be hitting .285 or .300.”
Kelenic received his first day off Sunday since being called up from Triple-A, and Servais said the 21 year old handled it just like he had hoped.
“I think with young players you can get going a little fast, and certainly when you’re struggling you want to fix it all in one at-bat. Sometimes if you just unplug, sit down and talk with them, give them a day to kind of sit back and watch the game – and not just watch it but think the game while you’re watching it from the dugout – it does help slow some things down. He needed a day, I thought it was the right time to unplug him so to speak, and then we quickly plugged him back in (Monday) night and it paid dividends.”
As for Lewis, he had a slow start after starting the season on the injured list with a bruised knee, and he’s running a .245 batting average and just a .382 slugging percentage as extra-base hits have been hard to come by for him. Servais hopes his big blast Monday was the start of that beginning to change.
Colossal KLew. pic.twitter.com/JjnEEAoBHF
— Seattle Mariners (@Mariners) May 25, 2021
“Starting the year on the IL is always a challenge, so once you get back into the lineup you want to contribute right away,” Servais said. “I think he’s played very well. I know his batting average is typically what fans like to look at and judge a player how he’s going but there’s so much more to that. He is getting on base (.353 on-base percentage), he’s doing a good job with his swing decisions. I think he’s playing very well in center field, he made a really nice catch last night. … Hadn’t seen a homer in a while and we certainly saw one last night. The power is still there. I think the guys who do hit homers, they come in bunches, so I’m hopeful we’ll maybe see a couple more here in this series.”
Though Lewis is in his third year with the Mariners, due to his September 2019 call-up and the shortened 2020 season he has played just 105 MLB games – 57 short of a full season. And despite that, the 25 year old has fit right into a role as a leader by example for the young team, according to Servais.
“Kyle has a great perspective, not just on baseball but on life. I often made comments last year that he’s one of our best players at just staying in the moment, staying present. Don’t look back too far and don’t look too far ahead. K-Lew, for where he’s at in his career, has a really good grasp and understanding of that which really helps other (young) guys as they continue to join our team.”
Servais said there’s another Mariners player who is similar to Lewis in that regard.
“Another guy that doesn’t get enough credit is J.P. Crawford. The work ethic, how he goes about it, the competitiveness, he just shows up every day, he sees the game the right way. Now, he’s not the vocal leader yet that I think he can grow into, but we certainly have guys that don’t have a ton of experience that looking out into the future, can they lead, can they be a big part of what we’re doing going forward on the field but also in the clubhouse? Those two guys stick out for me.
“I love where they’re at. They need to continue to get better, which they will because they’re really smart, they work hard, they’re good athletes, but they also have the chance to lead our group. Ultimately, you need guys. It’s not just one leader, it’s a group of guys. I think very highly of those two and how they’re maturing right before our eyes.”
The Scott Servais Show airs at 1 p.m. each Tuesday throughout the Mariners season during Jake and Stacy, with Mariners insider Shannon Drayer joining Jake Heaps and Stacy Rost to host the show.
Listen to this week’s Scott Servais Show at this link or in the player below.