SEATTLE MARINERS

Why Mariners could get creative with their pitchers in ALDS vs Astros

Oct 10, 2022, 1:06 PM | Updated: 1:25 pm
Mariners Robbie Ray...
Robbie Ray pitches for the Mariners against the Atlanta Braves on Sept. 9, 2022. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

The Mariners showed creativity with their pitching staff in their clinching American League Wild Card win over the Blue Jays, and there might be more where that came from this week in the AL Division Series.

How did the Mariners make it this far? Same reason they could keep going

After using most of their bullpen arms in the midst of their comeback from a 7-1 deficit Saturday in Toronto, manager Scott Servais called upon rookie George Kirby to make his first relief appearance in the big leagues. Oh, and no big deal but it was a save situation in Seattle’s 10-9 victory.

Does that mean Kirby will remain in the bullpen for the upcoming series against the AL West champion Houston Astros? Not exactly. In fact, both Mariners insider Shannon Drayer and Seattle Sports host Mike Salk are wondering if he may switch spots with Saturday’s starter, Robbie Ray.

“Robbie, of all of the guys in this starting rotation, I think his stuff might translate the best to the bullpen,” Salk said during Monday’s edition of Brock and Salk.

The left-handed Ray had a tough time against a righty-heavy Blue Jays lineup on Saturday, leaving after three-plus innings of four-run ball. Houston’s lineup is similarly loaded with right-handed bats, with only three players on the Astros’ active roster – All-Stars Yordan Álvarez and Kyle Tucker plus backup first baseman J.J. Maltijevic – swinging from the left side. That, plus Ray’s 10.97 ERA in three starts against the Astros in 2022, points to him making more sense as a reliever than starter in the ALDS.

“The idea of going to Robbie for some key at-bats against Álvarez, etc., actually sounds kinda helpful,” Salk said.

Drayer thinks that after throwing just an inning Saturday, Kirby lines up well to start Game 3 of the ALDS this Saturday in Seattle.

“We talked to (Mariners president of baseball operations) Jerry Dipoto in the clubhouse during the celebration (last Saturday) and he brought up that possibility, so I think that is very much on the table for them,” she said.

And when it comes to Ray in a relief role, that could end up being a key weapon for a bullpen that only has one southpaw (Matthew Boyd) in it.

“That’s what Robbie is, he’s a max-effort pitcher. He understands that and that’s something I think he really kind of feeds off, too,” Drayer said. “So if you let him kinda do what George Kirby did, coming out of the bullpen and just let it go, I think that that is something that he can understand and that he can challenge. I think we all know that his biggest struggles this year have been against that Houston Astros team. I don’t think you can pitch him (as a starter) in Houston. You could take a shot at doing it in Seattle, but I think that he also gives you that opportunity out of the bullpen, just give everything you’ve got out there, and that is something that suits him. I think that is something that absolutely could work for them.”

If the series goes to a deciding fifth game, which would be Monday in Houston (and would be the third game in as many days in the series), having Ray as a somewhat fresh option to start could be necessary, too.

“The rotation sets up very nicely one through three, and then because they have the three days in a row at the end of the week, that’s where it gets a little bit dicey in that you can’t bring your No. 1 guy back on regular rest,” Drayer said. “I think that Game 5 would be the most interesting game… and the most challenging for these guys. I would say just bullpen it – you know, just bullpen them to death if you’ve got a good bullpen to do that, but it’s a third day in a row against the Houston Astros so you probably won’t. That might be the absolute best spot for him right there.”

You can listen to the full conversation in the podcast in the player below.

Listen to Mariners Radio Network’s ALDS broadcasts on Seattle Sports

The only way to hear Mariners broadcasters Rick Rizzs, Mike Blowers, Aaron Goldsmith, Dave Sims and Gary Hill call the playoffs is on the Mariners Radio Network, which Seattle Sports 710 AM is the flagship station of. In addition to tuning in 710 AM in the Seattle area, anyone in the Pacific Northwest (Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, British Columbia and Alaska) can stream the games at SeattleSports.com or on the Seattle Sports app. Coverage of Game 1 will begin with the pregame show hosted by Shannon Drayer at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday. Game 2 coverage on Thursday will also start at 11:30 a.m.

Click here for details on streaming Mariners broadcasts from Seattle Sports.

You can also listen at 7 p.m. Monday night on Seattle Sports to a replay of the Mariners’ Game 2 Wild Card comeback win over the Blue Jays from Saturday.

Mariners ALDS schedule, Astros matchup and radio broadcast details

Seattle Mariners

Mariners Gleyber Torres...
Brandon Gustafson

Mariners Hot Stove Hype: Yankees trade chip 2B Torres, FA OF Benintendi

What should Mariners fans know about reported trade target Gleyber Torres of the Yankees? The Ringer's John Jastremski told Wyman & Bob.
4 days ago
Mariners Mitch Haniger...
Brandon Gustafson

Morosi: Haniger’s future, how 2 big names leaving their teams benefits Mariners

MLB Network's Jon Morosi joined Wyman & Bob to discuss Mitch Haniger's future and why the door may be opening for the Mariners in the AL.
4 days ago
Mariners Trea Turner...
Brandon Gustafson

Morosi: Why Mariners will be patient with addressing middle infield

The Mariners need a middle IF, and Jon Morosi thinks they'll get a notable one. He just thinks they'll wait it out, and for good reason.
5 days ago
Mariners Brandon Nimmo...
Joe Fann

Fann: Surveying the Mariners top 3 options to complete their outfield

The Mariners' have two OF starters in Julio Rodríguez and Teoscar Hernández, and Joe Fann breaks down his top options for that third spot.
5 days ago
Mariners offseason Jurickson Profar...
Brent Stecker

Mariners Hot Stove Hype: Close look at free agents Profar, Myers

Padres broadcaster Jesse Agler joined Wyman and Bob to share insight on some free agents from San Diego that could be relevant to the Mariners.
5 days ago
Mariners Julio Rodríguez...
Brent Stecker

Big question Mariners have to answer: Where does Julio Rodríguez hit?

Julio Rodríguez eventually settled in as leadoff hitter for the Mariners in 2022, but will that change in 2023 -- and should it? Shannon Drayer and Ryan Rowland-Smith discuss.
7 days ago
Why Mariners could get creative with their pitchers in ALDS vs Astros