Rookie Matt Brash wins final spot in Mariners starting rotation
With the move all but given away in the last week thanks to comments by Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto on his weekly Thursday morning show on Seattle Sports 710 AM, it seemed like just a matter of when the announcement of Seattle’s fifth starter would come. It turned out to be Saturday morning.
“Matt Brash will open the season with the big league club,” Mariners manager Scott Servais told the media. “He will actually get a chance to pitch this time. I promised him that. He will start the fifth game of the season for us.”
Brash, as Servais alluded to, was called up to the Mariners late last season but did not get a chance to pitch. The MLB debut for Seattle’s No. 6 prospect according to MLB Pipeline won’t have to wait much longer.
“It’s just a really cool moment,” Brash said while coming off the practice field Saturday about finding out he had won the spot. “It just kind of shows all the hard work I’d done even before I got to the Mariners to get my arm in shape, get my body in shape, all kind of pays off for that moment. I’m just super excited to be with the big league club and help this team win games.”
This time it is for real – 197 days after his big league call-up, Matt Brash has a guarantee. The September call-up was a maybe – maybe he could be of help coming out of the bullpen. As it turned out, Servais couldn’t find the soft landing spot for his first time out and Brash never saw the field.
Brash, 23, perhaps came away from the experience with more than a single major league stat-line on BaseballReference.com, though.
“It definitely motivated me,” Brash said of his experience up with the Mariners. “I learned a lot from these guys even though I was only there a week. It definitely motivated me to come here in spring training and earn a spot.”
That experience was taken into consideration in the decision to take Brash over fellow prospect George Kirby for the fifth spot. The competition was ultimately win-win for the Mariners as Kirby did nothing to disappoint.
“We also had a really good meeting with George Kirby,” said Servais. “Understanding where he’s at, he didn’t have a huge workload last year. It’s really important that he continues to progress. George is going to pitch for us this year, there’s no question about it. I think he is going to be a huge part of how our season plays out but right now he’s going to start the season in Double-A.”
At Double-A, the Mariners can keep Kirby out of bad spring weather and better manage his workload, which will be tricky after throwing just 67 1/3 innings in 2020. Ideally, they would like him to be able to pitch through – and hopefully beyond – the full big league regular season. His 2022 journey will start in Arkansas, and Brash’s Minnesota as part of the Mariners opening day roster.
What a difference a few years can make. On Sept. 17, 2020, Brash was sent from the Padres to the Mariners as the player to be named later to complete a trade for reliever Taylor Williams.
“It has been quick, for sure,” said Brash. “I always knew I was going to get here at some point with the work ethic I had, the talent I had. I just knew it was going to take a little while. It’s definitely been a really fast couple of years but super exciting. I’m just thankful the Mariners gave me this opportunity.”