How has Mariners pitching got on a roll? Pitching coach’s insight

Jul 6, 2022, 2:17 PM
Mariners Robbie Ray Logan Gilbert...
Mariners pitchers Robbie Ray and Logan Gilbert talk before a game at T-Mobile Park on June 15. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

There’s no question what the biggest reason behind the Mariners’ recent stretch of success is: their pitching.

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The M’s rank seventh in MLB in ERA (3.64) and WHIP (1.21) for the year, and the team has allowed more than three runs in a game just once during their current 12-3 run. Furthermore, in the last 19 games in which the Seattle offense has produced at least four runs, the M’s are undefeated.

So what has contributed to the pitching staff getting on such a roll? Mariners pitching coach Pete Woodworth joined Seattle Sports on Tuesday to share his insight.

Talking to guest hosts Mike Lefko and former Mariners pitcher/current M’s analyst Ryan Rowland-Smith on The Mike Salk Show, Woodworth said he’s seeing an interesting development with the starting rotation that is somewhat surprising for a group of five players who never play on the field at the same time.

“They are just kind of feeding off each other or competing off each other’s starts, trying to one-up the next guy, trying to see who could do this better,” Woodworth said. “They’re actually developing off each other, as well. They’re not taking pitches from each other but they’re making adjustments, following mistakes that other guys have made or adjustments that other guys have made. They’re trying some new pitches. They’re all evolving really at the same time.”

That kind of teamwork stands out considering the Mariners have several different types of pitchers in their rotation – young right-handers Logan Gilbert and George Kirby possess high-velocity fastballs and multiple off-speed options, reigning American League Cy Young Award winner Robbie Ray is generally limited to three pitches, Marco Gonzales relies on keeping hitters off-balance, and Chris Flexen depends on getting the most out of each of his five pitches every turn out.

“It’s been really exciting to be a part of, just to have a front row seat to kind of see how these five different guys who go about it completely different,” Woodworth said. “They have obviously come from different paths but right now are just all in-sync and working and developing together.”

Now in his third season as Mariners pitching coach, Woodworth said he’s learned that coaching each pitcher is not one size fits all.

“They’re all at different stages of their careers, and I probably lean more on the side of letting guys figure it out instead of pushing or shoving things down their throat,” he said. “It’s five different guys that kind of have five different coaching styles so you are constantly learning and evolving.

“All these guys are hungry to get better. … You let the Cy Young come in and do his thing, you’re not really jumping all over that guy, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how much he wants to get better, how much he’s willing to be open to making an adjustment. I mean, the guy pulled a two-seamer out of his back pocket a couple weeks ago. That’s kind of trickled throughout the entire rotation. Guys are seeing success… kind of making an adjustment here, adding a pitch here, trying something new in the bullpen here, all sorts of things. As they are kind of coming together, they do have their own unique style.”

You can hear Woodworth’s full conversation with Lefko and Rowland-Smith, including his thoughts on a strong Mariners bullpen of late, at this link or in the player below.

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