When could rookie Matt Brash join the Mariners’ bullpen?

May 29, 2022, 10:38 AM | Updated: 4:42 pm
Mariners Matt Brash...
Matt Brash of the Seattle Mariners delivers a pitch against the Miami Marlins. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Matt Brash began this season as the fifth starter in the Mariners’ starting rotation, but that didn’t last long.

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While Brash, a right-handed rookie who turned 24 on May 12, shined in his first two starts with a combined 11 strikeouts over 10 2/3 innings, he went from effectively wild to more or less just wild over his next three starts. Seattle decided to make a change after his fifth outing as he was 1-3 with a 7.65 ERA, 2.05 WHIP, and 17 walks to 19 strikeouts at that point.

That change had two parts to it. Not only was Brash sent down to Triple-A Tacoma, but once there he started a conversion to the bullpen as the Mariners believed Brash pitching as a reliever gave him the best chance to help the team this year.

So what is Brash’s status now that he’s had three weeks with the Rainiers? On Thursday’s edition of The Jerry Dipoto Show on Seattle Sports Station, the Mariners general manager and president of baseball operations shared the latest, and the key takeaway is that the timeline for Brash rejoining Seattle has yet to take shape.

The first thing Dipoto said is that “it’s too quick” to expect Brash to join a Mariners bullpen that has struggled in May following injuries to key arms.

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“We want to take our time and make sure we do it right, and that goes for all of our players to the best that we can do that,” Dipoto said. “Sometimes injury forces you to push players quicker than you’d like. … We believe (Brash) is very much a part of the long-term solution, but to put that kind of pressure on him right now with a bullpen that has really struggled for the last couple of weeks is probably not fair.”

Brash has appeared in six games for Tacoma so far, and he’s clearly still trying to harness his high-90s fastball and two wicked breaking pitches, a slider and a curve. In 10 innings, he’s allowed seven earned runs on six hits (including three home runs), nine walks and two wild pitches for a 6.30 ERA and 1.50 WHIP. He does have 18 strikeouts, however.

Part of what the Mariners are looking for out of Brash is a different approach now that he’s pitching out of the bullpen.

“We’ve talked to him about a mentality,” Dipoto said. “(Wednesday) night was his first one-inning outing, and I think you’ll start to see him pitch a little bit more frequently here in the near future rather than what were more, I guess, selectively-timed outings, to start acclimating him to shorter outings and I guess more frequent usage. He’s had a handful of really nice outings. He’s had another handful of outings where he’s struggled to make that adjustment, and that’s being young. He’s still a young player in the PCL (Pacific Coast League).”

There’s a key reason the Mariners are still trying to find a way to have Brash figure into their plans for 2022 even though he struggled in his first MLB action.

“Matt’s got great stuff,” Dipoto said.

The good news about Brash is his last appearance, which was that Wednesday night game Dipoto referred to, was his best since he started relieving. He threw a perfect inning against Las Vegas with two strikeouts.

You can listen to the full Jerry Dipoto Show in the podcast at this link or in the player below.

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When could rookie Matt Brash join the Mariners’ bullpen?