Morosi: Mariners’ management of pitching staff deserves recognition

Sep 16, 2022, 12:35 PM | Updated: 1:26 pm

Mariners George Kirby Logan Gilbert Robbie Ray...

George Kirby is greeted by fellow Mariners pitchers Robbie Ray and Logan Gilbert on Aug. 30, 2022. (Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images)

(Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images)

The Mariners have just 20 games left this season and all come against teams with records under .500. And even if they play .500 ball the rest of the way, the M’s would finish the year with 90 wins for the second year in a row.

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How have the Mariners stacked up against preseason expectations? MLB Network insider Jon Morosi discussed that and much more with Wyman and Bob on Seattle Sports 710 AM.

“I thought somewhere right around 90, again, was my thought. They’re exceeding my expectations,” Morosi said.

This past week, Morosi said, was a big deal for the Mariners as they took two of three from the reigning World Series champion Atlanta Braves and split a quick two-game set with the San Diego Padres. Going 3-2 in that stretch was “exceptionally well” and proved something for Seattle.

“That’s now where you’re at. You’re comfortable. You’re there,” Morosi said. “Every week that goes by in which the Mariners win and go 4-3 and even 3-3, they’re on their way. They’re there.”

The weekend series with Atlanta was capped off with an exciting walkoff homer by Eugenio Suárez, but Seattle’s win on Saturday in a pitchers duel between rookie George Kirby and Atlanta ace Max Fried stood out more, Morosi said.

“That’s a tight game, where Kirby goes in there and is right there against Fried and he outduels a guy who is an All-Star and is someone that’s in the conversation of being one of the best pitchers in the game,” he said. “So yes, the comeback on Sunday gets the headlines, but that Saturday game, to me, said as much as the Sunday game did. They’re winning close games, they’re winning pitcher’s duel, they’re winning crazy games like Sunday. That’s the mark of a team that can go somewhere.”

The word that comes to mind with the Mariners is balance, Morosi said, and they don’t appear to have any big weakness as the playoffs near.

“This team has remained in balance. If there was going to be any sort of vulnerability, any sort of concern that would keep them from being a playoff team, or even an alarming trend that would have you concerned as the playoffs begin, I think we would have seen it by now,” he said. “And I’m not seeing it. This team is able to win close, they’re able to win big when needed, they’ve got a dynamic player in Julio Rodriguez who seems to get better every week and just is bringing this incredible confidence and swagger to the team. I like what I’m seeing.”

Pitching management

The strength of the Mariners all year long has been their pitching. They have a top-end rotation and arguably the game’s best bullpen.

A big reason the pitching has performed so well is Seattle has yet to have a pitcher land on the injured list or even miss a start due to injury.

Morosi said there’s some luck involved in that, but he credits Mariners management for having a consistent five-man rotation all year long.

“I think having a collection of pitchers that you believe have the kind of attributes to stay healthy, whether it’s mechanically, whether it’s their habits in between starts,” he said.

Morosi said it’s common for teams to complain about their pitching getting hurt year after year, but pitchers breaking down is part of the game. That’s where management can step up.

“It’s your job as management team to do two things: Surround your roster with pitchers who have a good track record and a good potentiality of staying healthy, and then once you get the pitchers, to understand how to manage them between starts and in games, and when you can trim off an inning here or there,” Morosi said.

That’s been a strength of the Mariners, he added.

“I think it’s really telling that as a team… you really have the same core of six starters that you’ve had all season long,” Morosi said. “… And yet, no one on this team – at least in terms of innings for the Mariners – is on pace to go over 200 (innings). And yet, you’ve got at least three guys who are on pace to make 30-plus starts.”

And that’s where the bullpen comes into play.

“When you’ve got a good bullpen that you trust and then you you bring in some new arms … you’ve got the guys to cover it,” Morosi said. “So for Kirby or (Logan) Gilbert to go six innings is great. It’s wonderful, because you’ve got the arms after them to cover it.”

Morosi thinks manager Scott Servais, his coaching staff and the Mariners front office deserve a lot of credit “for developing the right plan” in terms of pitching.

“It’s getting the right arms, and then managing them based on what you know about their physicality, physiology, their mental makeup, to how you can get the best out of them,” he said. “And the Mariners are getting the best out of their personnel right now, and their management team from top to bottom deserves a lot of credit, as of course the pitchers do themselves.”

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

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