How Mariners’ Matt Brash, armed with ‘filthy stuff,’ could ‘be that dude’

Apr 5, 2022, 11:09 AM | Updated: 2:51 pm
Mariners RHP Matt Brash...
The Mariners acquired right-hander Matt Brash from San Diego in a 2020 trade. (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
(Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)

The 2022 Mariners have a bit of everything when it comes to their starting rotation.

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You have the headliner ace in Robbie Ray, the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner. Then there’s the bulldog who gets by on being crafty in Marco Gonzales. Chris Flexen is another bulldog and also the team’s feel-good story from last year as a reliable breakout starter after pitching in Korea in 2020. Then there’s the youngster in Logan Gilbert, who pitched well as a rookie last season and is looking to build off that campaign while further developing his craft.

Finally, there’s the great unknown in Matt Brash, the rookie with electric stuff who won the No. 5 starter spot after a stellar spring training where he allowed just one run on three hits and two walks, striking out 12 in 9 1/3 innings.

So what do we need to know about the 23-year-old hurler who we’ll see debut next Tuesday against the Chicago White Sox? There’s no one better to give insight on pitching than former Mariners starting pitcher and current ROOT Sports analyst Ryan Rowland-Smith. “The Hyphen” joined Seattle Sports Station’s Wyman and Bob Monday afternoon and shares his thoughts on Brash breaking camp with the big league club.

“Some of my younger friends, like some guys who are Matt Brash’s age, they talk the talk when it comes to that new generation of pitching. They’re like, ‘Man, this guy is one of the nastiest dudes we’ve seen,'” Rowland-Smith said. “… I (also) talked to some of my friends who are scouts about Matt Brash and how nasty he is. So I am excited to watch him.”

Rowland-Smith said he’s not sure what to expect from Brash as a big league starter because the highest level he’s pitched at in his career is Double-A (Brash was called up to the Mariners at the end of 2022 but did not appear in any games).

Brash excelled seemingly out of nowhere in the minors last season. In 97 1/3 innings between High-A and Double-A, he posted a 2.31 ERA with 142 strikeouts (13.1 strikeouts per 9 innings) while walking 48. That was his first full year with the Mariners organization as he was acquired from the Padres in 2020.

Rowland-Smith noted that Brash’s emergence is even more unique as he was a player to be named later in that trade deadline deal, completing a swap in which the Mariners sent reliever Taylor Williams to San Diego. Williams didn’t pan out in San Diego, however, and was designated for assignment late last season, while Brash’s future has only continued to look brighter.

“From a personal standpoint, (look at) how far he has come from being sort of on the edge of the radar to now being, in the last 12 months, where people have just started taking notice of how good he is,” Rowland-Smith said.

So what makes Brash, a top 100 prospect according to both Baseball America and MLB Pipeline, so intriguing?

“With Brash, the velocity for him has gone up the last couple years,” Rowland-Smith said. “… When you talk stuff, you’re talking elevated fastball and an absolutely filthy slider. When you’re talking about movement, especially horizontal movement, when you look at some of these prospects and dive into some of the numbers, he had some of the highest and the latest movement.”

Now that Brash is officially penned in as Seattle’s No. 5 starter, Rowland-Smith wants to see him have a pretty aggressive mentality going forward.

“You want him to go into the season saying, ‘Look, I’m not a fifth starter, mate. I’m a No. 1, I’m a No. 2,’ and have that sort of attitude and not this, ‘Things are great, I’m just trying to do everything I can, I’m happy to be here,'” Rowland-Smith said. “Don’t be happy to be here, mate. You’ve got filthy stuff. Be that dude. That’s what I hope he goes into the season with and tries to carve out some big numbers because man, stuff-wise? Awesome.”

Listen to the full interview with Rowland-Smith at this link or in the player below.

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