SHANNON DRAYER

Dipoto: How Mariners plan to handle rest for J.P., pitchers’ workloads

Jan 26, 2023, 1:12 PM | Updated: 1:12 pm

Mariners J.P. Crawford...

Mariners shortstop J.P. Crawford celebrates an RBI single against the White Sox on Sept. 5, 2022. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

The Jerry Dipoto Show collided with The Wheelhouse podcast Thursday morning with Mariners broadcaster Aaron Goldsmith sitting in with Brock Huard for the weekly conversation on Seattle Sports with the Mariners president of baseball operations.

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With the offseason winding down, Goldsmith, a fellow foodie whose last conversation with Dipoto for The Wheelhouse was September, was interested in the best meal Dipoto has had this offseason. That naturally led to talk of a giant sea turtle and eventually baseball. Safe to say all bases were covered in the 20-minute interview.

Of note on the baseball side, it will be interesting to see how the Mariners handle rest in the 2023 season. In recent springs, we have heard about the importance of getting guys days off throughout the season. Despite good intentions, this has proved to be a challenge as games become more important and injuries limit those who could replace the starters. Heading into this season, Dipoto told Goldsmith and Huard that a focus is finding “intentional days of rest” for shortstop J.P. Crawford.

“It’s something we are committed to doing more frequently this season,” Dipoto said.

The plan has been shared with Crawford, who has played more games at shortstop than all but Dansby Swanson and Trea Turner over the past three seasons.

“J.P. is one of the most competitive players on the team,” said Dipoto, likening him to an old school everyday baseball player who embraces the grind. “J.P. is that guy. He shows up to play every day. What we have observed is the season does take a toll on him. He is a very slim, athletic guy. When you are playing 18, 20 days in a row at a position as taxing as shortstop, that’s not easy.”

Feeling confident in Dylan Moore’s ability to fill in at shortstop and the abundance of good left-handed starting pitching in the division aids in the decision making, as does what Dipoto sees as the possible returns in getting Crawford days off his feet.

“There’s going to be great opportunity to give J.P. a day to just take a breath and stay strong throughout the season, and hopefully that allows us over the course of what we hope is 180 games to play deep. That is one of the positions where we feel we can make the most progress is helping J.P. take that next step.”

All eyes will also be on the rotation as it returns two young players who blew away previous season-highs in innings (George Kirby and Logan Gilbert). With six starters returning and at least two prospects believed to be close to ready to debut, utilizing a six-man rotation has been a topic of conversation on the pages and airwaves – but not so much in the Mariners front office, as it turns out.

“There are benefits to it,” Dipoto confirmed. “That said, we haven’t really had that conversation with this group. We are more likely to go into spring training with the six starters you currently see.”

Regardless of whether or not Kirby and Gilbert make their starts every five or six days, their workload will be watched.

“We are going to be a little bit more methodical in how we develop our innings, especially considering the young guys and what they did taking the big step forward innings wise,” Dipoto said.

If the rotation remains healthy, Dipoto believes the Mariners have built-in help thanks to what he called the “under the radar importance” of veterans Robbie Ray, Marco Gonzales and Chris Flexen.

“These guys can go out there and churn innings,” he said. “You are going to throw about 1,450 innings, and when you can get a Ray, Gonzales or Flexen who can go and take out 185 innings to 200 of those innings and do it at league average or better rates in terms of run suppression, you are in a really good position because that allows the other guys to do what they do. And we are seeing traits in Kirby, in Gilbert and we know this to be true of (Luis) Castillo, they have the impact ability in whatever innings they throw from 170 to 200 to really change a staff.

“We are going to be really leaning on those guys who have history of churning the innings and it is a really important part of how our team is built.”

Also included in this week’s edition of The Jerry Dipoto Show are his thoughts on what a successful season for Jerred Kelenic could look like, a forecast for the trade market heading into spring training, and whether the new shift rules help or hurt the Mariners. You can listen to a podcast of the full show at this link or in the player below.

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Dipoto: How Mariners plan to handle rest for J.P., pitchers’ workloads