Mariners’ Scott Servais provides takeaways on opening series of 2022

Apr 12, 2022, 12:12 PM | Updated: 12:49 pm
Mariners Julio Rodriguez...
Julio Rodriguez of the Seattle Mariners celebrates a 2-1 victory against the Minnesota Twins. (David Berding/Getty Images)
(David Berding/Getty Images)

After taking the first two games of the 2022 season, the Mariners dropped the final two games of their opening series and head to Chicago to take on the White Sox with a .500 record.

The Breakdown: Matt Brash’s meteoric rise to Mariners’ rotation

So what did Mariners manager Scott Servais see from his team over the course of those four games? And what kind of feel does he have for his roster and clubhouse? He joined Stacy Rost and Michael Bumpus on Seattle Sports 710 AM’s Jake and Stacy Tuesday morning before Seattle’s series opener against Chicago.

“I actually have a better feel about this one than I did early in the season last year,” Servais said. “I think what we went through last year as a team and we’ve got our core guys are all back again and adding to that some really good makeup guys.”

New ace Robbie Ray, who threw seven innings of one-run ball on opening day, is one of those key makeup guys, Servais said.

Takeaways: How Robbie Ray, other new Mariners did in opening day win

“I think what Robbie Ray has added in our clubhouse and certainly what he’s going to do on the mound for us is a huge add for us and then talking with our young pitchers and working with those guys,” Servais said. “That’s been huge.”

Servais said he feels very good about the Mariners’ clubhouse and environment right now and heading into the rest of the 2022 season.

“It’s a good group,” he said. “They like playing baseball. It’s got more of a minor league team or college team (feel) to it than the established big league team, and that’s a good thing. I think it’s guys that are not afraid to show some emotion on the field and they hold each other accountable, and it’s good to see that early in the season.”

So how about what’s been happening on the field with some specific players? Here are some quick takeaways from the Mariners’ skipper.

Logan Gilbert

After a rocky inning-plus to start the 2022 campaign, second-year hurler Logan Gilbert settled in and threw five innings while allowing just one run and striking out seven on Saturday. He did so by using all four of his pitches, which wasn’t the case last year as a rookie.

“Logan made a nice in-game adjustment in Game 2 of the series over there and got back into using his curveball and his changeup along with the obvious (in that) he’s got a really good fastball,” Servais said. “The development of his secondary pitches has been a real highlight for us and to see the improvements he’s made. He’s just got to trust them. And when he starts trusting them and getting (the secondary pitches) over the plate, it’s a heck of a lot easier to work through lineups. He threw the ball good and again, he’ll build off that first outing.”

Julio and Kelenic

The Mariners have two young outfielders on the roster who many believe will be franchise cornerstones in Julio Rodríguez and Jarred Kelenic.

Kelenic is in his second MLB season while Rodríguez made his MLB debut on opening day.

Both are off to slow starts this year as they have just one hit each with 12 combined strikeouts in 25 combined at-bats.

Watch: Julio Rodriguez’s first MLB hit starts Mariners rally in comeback win

So what is Servais seeing from those two, and is it too soon to panic?

With Kelenic, Servais said he’s handling failure better this year than he did as a rookie in 2021.

“There’s been a big change. Last year, (Kelenic was) very quick to get frustrated and kind of let his emotions get the better of him,” Servais said. “He’s learning, he’s growing.”

Where Kelenic shined in spring training, Servais said, was hitting to all fields.

“He got away from (that) a little bit the other day,” Servais said.

Rodríguez has “handled himself really well,” Servais said, and is getting his first taste of just how good MLB pitching can be.

“He’s got the ability to handle it. I’ve got a ton of confidence in him,” Servais said of the Mariners’ rookie outfielder. “He believes in himself. And the smile you see on his face is real. It’s not fake. That’s how his personality is. That’s how he’s wired. He’s going to be just fine.”

Servais said that Kelenic and Rodríguez have bright futures ahead of them, and thanks to the Mariners’ top-end depth, they’ll be able to soak in some learning at the MLB level without playing every day early on this year.

“The one thing with both Jared and (Rodríguez), we’re gonna give them a day off once a week or so,” he said. “It kind of gives those guys a chance to catch their breath and sit back. Sometimes when you just sit back and watch for five or six innings of a game, you have a different perspective on it. So fortunately, our team is deep enough this year where you can move some guys around and we’ll continue to do it, especially early in the season.”

Matt Brash

When the Mariners open their series in Chicago against the White Sox, they’ll be sending rookie right hander Matt Brash to the hill for his MLB debut.

So what does Servais think of his young pitching prospect?

“Matt Brash has pretty electric stuff,” Servais said. “He really impressed us all in spring training.”

Brash used a monster spring to earn the No. 5 spot in Seattle’s rotation. Servais on Tuesday is looking forward to Brash’s elite breaking ball, which he thinks can help him neutralize a good White Sox lineup.

“The breaking ball, it’s one of the better breaking balls – a hard slider – that you’re going to see in Major League Baseball,” Servais said. ” … I think it’s a good lineup for him to match up against. They have a lot of right-handed hitters. If he gets that breaking ball going today, gets it over the zone early and hopefully get some (hitters to) chase later in the counts, he’s gonna have a good day today … It’s a really electric arm and I’m anxious to see him out there today.”

Message to the club

So after four games and a split against the Twins, what’s Servais stressing to the Mariners?

“It’s four games into it. We have not swung the bat like I think any of our guys would like to swing the bat at this point, but I don’t think you can go get too reactionary early,” he said. It’s been four games. It was one series.”

Listen to the full interview at this link or in the player below.

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