Scott Servais explains why he’s excited about Mariners’ starting pitching

Apr 4, 2022, 5:03 PM
Mariners Logan Gilbert...
Mariners pitcher Logan Gilbert throws in a June 6, 2021 game against the Angels. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)

Pitching played a key role in the Mariners’ 90-win 2021 season, but it’s the bullpen that has tended to get most of the credit. That’s for good reason, too, as Seattle’s relievers were very important for a team that went 33-19 in one-run games.

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The starting pitching should not be overlooked, though, and as manager Scott Servais told Seattle Sports Station’s Wyman and Bob, that goes for both what happened last year as well as what the Mariners have set up for 2022.

“I’m really excited about our starting pitching,” Servais said in the interview late last week. “I think it was kind of under the radar (as) the key the last two months of our season last year. Everybody talks about our bullpen – our bullpen was awesome, but… when we went (from a six-man rotation to a five-man rotation) after the trade deadline and we were able to acquire Tyler Anderson, that’s when we got on a nice roll because our starting pitching was giving us a chance to win every night. And that’s how I feel this spring.”

While Anderson isn’t returning, the Mariners did make a big signing. They added reigning American League Cy Young Award winner Robbie Ray, who will be their opening day starter in the 1:10 p.m. Thursday game at Minnesota, which will air live on Seattle Sports 710 AM.

“With the addition of Robbie, who’s like the best guy in the league and you put him at the top of your rotation, that’s pretty cool,” Servais said. “He’s been fantastic this spring spending a lot of time with our younger pitchers. That intensity level that he brings every day, whether it’s just playing catch out on the field to his bullpens to what he does in the games, it rubs off on guys.”

Servais also expects big things from second-year starter Logan Gilbert, who will be in the No. 2 slot in the rotation.

“Logan Gilbert’s taken a big step forward in the development of his slider and his curveball and his changeup. You know, it’s something he wasn’t very consistent with last year – he had some great outings for us but he was really reliant on the fastball, the location of that, so he’s made some steps forward.”

Following up will be steady veteran Marco Gonzales, one of Seattle’s key clubhouse leaders, and 2021 breakout starter Chris Flexen.

“Marco is going to be solid as he always is. You know, he’s the bulldog. He figures out a way to keep us in games and win games,” Servais said. “Flexen’s looked good this spring building off what he did last year. … We know Marco and Flexen carry the load.”

The final slot belongs to rookie Matt Brash, who won a close competition with fellow prospect George Kirby this spring for the No. 5 position. The Mariners expect Brash, Kirby and possibly lefty Justus Sheffield to all figure in at some point this year, though.

“Probably the most intriguing thing is what we have going on with our our fifth spot in the rotation,” Servais said. “You talk about two young kids with just electric stuff between Matt Brash and George Kirby – they both look very good this spring… And you know, Justus Sheffield is throwing the ball pretty well this spring so we’ve got some good options there.”

You can hear the full interview with Servais in the podcast at this link or in the player below.

More from this interview: Servais says M’s are “most complete team” he’s managed

No starting pitcher.

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