Chris Flexen: Mariners ‘ready to compete and continue to fight together’
The Mariners are in desperate need of a win on Saturday after dropping the first game of their final series to the Los Angeles Angels on Friday night.
Luckily for Seattle, the team’s most consistent pitcher is on the hill.
That would be right-handed pitcher Chris Flexen, who last year was pitching professionally in Korea. All he’s done in 30 starts this year is go 14-6 with a 3.67 ERA in 174 1/3 innings and not miss any starts. His 14 wins are tied for second in the American League and he has the seventh-best ERA in the American League entering Saturday.
Prior to Seattle’s loss to the Angels, Flexen joined 710 ESPN Seattle’s Jake and Stacy to talk about the 2021 Mariners and the energy around the team.
“We’re resilient,” Flexen said when asked to describe his team. “We strap it on every day ready to compete and continue to fight together and try and win a ball game. That’s all we can do right now.”
A big reason for the Mariners’ success, Flexen said, is they’ve kept the same mentality day in and day out since the start of the season.
“We’ve competed all year long and have gone through good stretches, tough stretches over the course of the season,” he said. “Definitely right now we are eager and hungry to win and looking to do it, but we’re not trying to put added pressure on ourselves. We’re just going out there and competing with each other and trying to win a ball game.”
The Mariners are a fun, young, and energetic group, and Flexen said that’s thanks to a collective effort in the clubhouse.
“J.P. (Crawford) has been phenomenal in bringing the energy and leading the charge,” Flexen said. (Mitch) Haniger as well. And even holding down the bullpen, guys like (Paul) Sewald bring the energy every night as well. I’d say collectively it’s the group of us.”
The Mariners’ recent surge propelled them into playoff contention after it appeared hope was lost just a few weeks ago. Flexen admitted it’s been hard not to check on other scores around the league.
“Days that I’m not on the mound I’m obviously peeking at the scoreboard no matter where it’s at in every stadium,” he said. “When you’re more locked into the game like pitching-wise, my focus is just to compete in that ball game itself and everything else will take care of itself. But it’s obviously up on the scoreboards and projected and out on the East Coast they are playing before us and we see them finish before us. I know the guys are hungry to win and we’re taking it one game at a time and focusing on that.”
Despite not pitching in the majors last season and bouncing up and down between the minors and MLB in 2017, 2018 and 2019, Flexen has been extremely durable this season, and has shown no signs of slowing down despite leading the Mariners in innings pitched. He credits that to hard work he’s put in to lose weight and be in better shape.
“I think (the weight loss is) definitely something that has helped jumpstart my career,” he said. “This late in the season to have this much workload and still be healthy and strong and ready to go I think has a lot to say for that where two years ago when I was 265 (pounds) I definitely was not lasting this long and would be hurting a lot differently … Taking pride in your body and ensuring you’re able to compete every day has definitely helped a lot.”
Listen to the full interview at this link or in the player below.