Mariners pitching coach: Nearly every starter has a ‘new weapon’

Feb 20, 2023, 11:46 AM | Updated: 12:18 pm

Mariners Logan Gilbert...

Mariners pitcher Logan Gilbert throws against the San Diego Padres on Sept. 13, 2022. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

If you’ve been following Seattle Sports’ conversations with members of the Mariners since spring training opened last week for pitchers and catchers, you may have noticed a theme.

Mariners’ Dipoto on high praise for Matt Brash: “His stuff is on that tier”

Robbie Ray, for instance, is working on a new pitch.

George Kirby, for another, is… working on a new pitch.

And, well, so are other pitchers in the Mariners’ rotation.

“I don’t want to ruin the surprise but I think every single one of them will have a new weapon this year,” Mariners pitching coach Pete Woodworth said of his team’s starters when he joined Seattle Sports’ Bump and Stacy last Thursday. “Robbie’s got one, Kirby’s got one, (Logan) Gilbert’s got one, (Chris) Flexen’s got one.”

OK, maybe he got a little ahead of himself, though.

“Luis Castillo is really good. I don’t think he needs one,” Woodworth said with a chuckle.

The Mariners have shown they’re comfortable with experimenting with pitches, even during the season. Ray, who otherwise relies mainly on a four-seam fastball and hard slider, in particular found success around midseason when he introduced a two-seam fastball that plays a bit like a sinker. Kirby took a cue from the 2021 American League Cy Young Award winner and began using one later in the season, as well.

Woodworth, who is entering his fourth year as M’s pitching coach and won 2022 MLB Coach of the Year honors from Baseball America, said that helping develop new pitches is a part of his job that he particularly enjoys.

“We’ve actually had a lot of pitch design in the past year, and even coming into spring training. A lot of guys adding new pitches, adjusting pitches, and that’s a really fun part of the job that I couldn’t do five years ago. Technology has definitely helped everybody in that aspect. What we’re able to do now with pitch design is really fun and I think we saw a lot of the fruits of that labor last year, and we saw them at the first day of camp.”

Mariners starters equipped for pitch clock

One of MLB’s new rules for 2023 is a pitch clock, with pitchers given 15 seconds between pitches when the bases are empty and 20 seconds when there is at least one runner on.

Asked if that’s a concern for Seattle’s rotation, Woodworth feels it plays right into the Mariners’ hands, especially when it comes to veteran left-hander Marco Gonzales.

“Our starters all work quick. That’s kind of part of Marco’s game, he works quick.”

Mariners who will be most impacted by new rule changes in 2023

The youngest Mariners starter, though, is the one who has the most to change.

“George Kirby, when there’s a runner on base, kind of takes like five or six little baby steps as he’s coming set and that takes about four or five seconds,” Woodworth said. “That’s really the one glaring thing from our starters that they need to adjust. They work quick, they work aggressively, so there’s not a whole lot of adjustments needed there with the rotation other than George with guys on base.”

You can listen to the full Bump and Stacy conversation with Woodworth in the podcast player below.

The gap the Mariners are trying to close really isn’t all that big

Bump & Stacy Show

Mariners Roof Report

Brought to you by
High 80° | Low 58°
No game today.

Bump and Stacy

Seattle Mariners Dylan Moore Astros 2024...

Brent Stecker

ESPN insider’s view on Mariners and Astros’ trade deadline plans

The Seattle Mariners are looking for bats, but their competition in the AL West is also expected to make moves before the MLB trade deadline.

17 hours ago

Former Seattle Mariners OF Teoscar Hernández...

Zac Hereth

Examining what Teoscar Hernández said about hitting in T-Mobile Park

Seattle Sports' Michael Bumpus and Stacy Rost discuss what ex-Seattle Mariners OF Teoscar Hernández said about hitting at T-Mobile Park.

2 days ago

Seattle Mariners Jazz Chisholm Jr. trade target MLB deadline...

Brent Stecker

Mariners Trade Target: Do Jazz Chisholm Jr. rumors have legs?

An MLB insider tied the Seattle Mariners to Miami's Jazz Chisholm Jr. in a trade rumor over the weekend. Craig Mish of the Miami Herald shared his insight with Bump and Stacy.

3 days ago


Seattle Sports Video

Video: What makes a successful trade deadline for the Mariners?

With the MLB trade deadline looming later this month, what do the Seattle Mariners need to do to position themselves for success in the second half of the season? Stacy Rost and Curtis Rogers break it down on The Bump & Stacy Show on Seattle Sports 710 AM. Listen to The Bump & Stacy Show […]

3 days ago

Seattle Seahawks WR JSN...

Zac Hereth

The WR mold Seahawks’ JSN fits from Grubb’s UW offense

Danny Kelly from The Ringer explains the role he sees Jaxon Smith-Njigba filling in his second year with the Seattle Seahawks.

4 days ago

Seattle Seahawks CB Nehemiah Pritchett...

Zac Hereth

The best thing about the Seahawks’ rookie class

Former NFL receiver Michael Bumpus explains what he likes best about the Seattle Seahawks' 2024 rookie class.

4 days ago

Mariners pitching coach: Nearly every starter has a ‘new weapon’