Mariners’ bullpen just got even nastier with addition of Matt Brash

Jul 10, 2022, 10:32 AM
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)

The Mariners’ bullpen has been plenty tough on opposing lineups over the last month. On Saturday night, though, it turned the dial up on nastiness.

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The first man out of the ‘pen for Seattle was rookie Matt Brash, who took the ball in the seventh inning from starter Robbie Ray just hours after getting called up from Triple-A. While Brash appeared in five games early in the season, those were all as a starter. He was sent down in May to convert to a role as a reliever, and in his first big league relief outing, he showed exactly why the M’s thought he could make an impact in that role.

The 24-year-old Brash struck out a pair in an inning of work in Seattle’s 2-1 victory, earning the win over the Toronto Blue Jays, the team that plays its home games less than a three-hour drive from where he grew up in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. Brash regularly touched 99 mph with his fastball and showed better command than he had as a starter earlier in the year.

Brash turned a lot of heads as he rose through the minor leagues due to his wicked breaking pitches, in particular a hard slider that has a ton of horizontal movement. Playing off his fastball, though, was a point of emphasis for him when he moved to the bullpen, as Mariners assistant general manager Justin Hollander explained to Wyman and Bob on Seattle Sports.

“I think the strike-throwing has come a long way, particularly with his fastball, which is something that we really asked him to focus on,” Hollander said Thursday. “… When you’re in a spot where you need to hammer the strike zone, being able to use your fastball to go get yourself that strike so that he can get to his secondary pitches was a developmental point that was really stressed, and he’s done that.”

At the time of that conversation with Hollander, it was unknown when Brash would rejoin the M’s, but veteran reliever Ken Giles had to leave Friday’s win over the Blue Jays with shoulder discomfort. With Giles being placed on the injured list Saturday and Erik Swanson going on the paternity list at the same time, a spot for Brash on the roster opened up.

Hollander indicated Thursday that Brash wasn’t far off from rejoining Seattle, even though an opportunity had to present itself.

“We anticipate Matt being back in the big leagues at some point in the second half of this year,” he said, “and when he does, I would expect him to come back as a reliever and really impact what has already been a really strong group.”

That really strong group was certainly on display Saturday. Following Brash was Andrés Muñoz, who threw an incredible eighth inning that included back-to-back strikeouts of Raimel Tapia and George Springer on a combined six pitches (five of which were swinging strikes), and Diego Castillo worked around two soft singles and an intentional walk to earn the save in the ninth.

You can listen to the full Wyman and Bob conversation with Hollander in the podcast at this link or in the player below.

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