Blowers on Mariners: Luis Castillo’s stuff, scuffling Ty France, rotation

Aug 17, 2022, 12:49 AM

Mariners Luis Castillo...

Luis Castillo of the Seattle Mariners throws against the Los Angeles Angels on Monday. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

With the Mariners surging towards a playoff berth, there are no shortage of storylines surrounding the team to keep an eye on. And one man who has his eyes on all things Mariners is former M’s infielder Mike Blowers, who calls the team’s games for ROOT Sports.

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Blowers joined Seattle Sports 710 AM’s Wyman and Bob Tuesday afternoon and discussed plenty in his 20-minute chat, including some observations on three notable players who have been struggling of late.

Luis Castillo’s ace quality

For the first time in his short Mariners tenure, Luis Castillo faced a team that wasn’t the New York Yankees when he toed the rubber in Anaheim against the Angels on Monday.

The 2022 All-Star right-hander turned in another very good performance, spinning six innings of two-run ball while striking out nine, and Blowers doesn’t think Seattle’s new ace was on his A-game, either.

“I think more than anything, his stuff is terrific. But he really struggled to get through that second inning. I think he threw 26 or 27 pitches. He didn’t seem real sharp to me,” he said. “But he found a way to keep it on the rails, man. He just was not going to give into it.”

Castillo’s use of the two-seam fastball stood out to Blowers, who said Castillo has shown he really leans on the pitch, which has a velocity in the upper-90s and “moves a ton.”

Castillo also caught the eye of another broadcaster, Blowers said.

“I think it was about the fourth inning, (former MLB pitcher) Mark Gubicza, who works for the Angels, he was on the other side of the booth from me and he kind of leaned out over the window and was talking to me and he goes, ‘Man, this guy’s stuff is terrific. He’s gonna be awesome for you guys.’ And I said I agree,” Blowers said. “He’s everything you want, even on a day when maybe he’s not as sharp as you’d like to see.”

Concerns for Gilbert and Gonzales?

Logan Gilbert was stellar for the Mariners to begin 2022 but has taken his lumps of late, posting a 6.59 ERA in five starts since the All-Star break and a 9.38 ERA in three starts in August.

The young right-hander is in uncharted territory as he’s thrown more innings this season than he has in any other year of pro ball or college.

Blowers thinks that Gilbert facing the Yankees and Houston Astros twice each since the break is part of his poor second-half numbers, and he’s uncertain if his career-high in innings is part of the equation.

“He’s never done this before. He’s never pitched this much. He’s never gone this long in a major league season, and I think that you’re trying to figure all these things out,” Blowers said. “His stuff is still there. He’s still throwing 97 mph.”

That tough schedule is what really stands out to Blowers.

“More than anything, I think their schedule over the last few weeks has been really difficult, especially when you look at Logan,” he said. “… That makes it really tough. So for him, I think he’ll be fine. Sometimes you have to kind of work your way and push your way over the hump of the season, and he’s trying to figure that out right now.”

Gilbert isn’t the only Mariners starter who is being watched closely as Marco Gonzales has a 6.69 ERA over his last six starts, and he has remained in Seattle’s five-man rotation instead of Chris Flexen, who has shifted to the bullpen despite having better numbers overall than the veteran lefty.

Blowers isn’t too concerned about Gonzales going forward.

“I think Marco is fine. I think Marco is a guy who’s going to have the guys put the ball in play, and if grounders are making their way into the outfield, he’s going to have a tough day,” he said.

Ty France’s scuffles

Ty France made his first All-Star team this year, but the star Mariners first baseman has struggled of late, hitting .140 in August after missing the first few games of the month due to a wrist injury. He’s also hitting .202 in 20 games since the All-Star break.

So is France still playing through the injury, or is it something else?

“He hasn’t complained about it. He says that he’s fine, so I’m going to have to trust him on that,” Blowers said.

But Blowers does think France’s struggles are likely due to him doing something abnormal as far as his usual play goes.

“The one thing I’ve seen over the last week or so with Ty is he seems to be chasing off the plate a little bit more,” Blowers said. “He’s usually really disciplined. He’s an aggressive hitter, but he’s disciplined in the strike zone, and he’s kind of chasing a little bit (right now). So I’m almost wondering if he’s not just picking the baseball up, which happens (even) to the best hitters. You’ll go through a two-week stretch where things are just not in sync. And I’m hoping that’s the case because we saw him last year when he tried to play through an injury and that didn’t go too well for him.”

The good news is France had a very France-like hit in the Mariners’ win on Tuesday night over the Angels, driving a pitch the other way at the end of a long at-bat for a two-run single that was part of a three-run sixth inning that gave Seattle the lead for good.

You can listen to the full conversation with Blowers in the podcast at this link or in the player below.

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Blowers on Mariners: Luis Castillo’s stuff, scuffling Ty France, rotation