Why Matt Brash has committed to role in Mariners’ bullpen for 2023

Feb 27, 2023, 12:24 PM

Mariners Matt Brash...

Mariners pitcher Matt Brash looks on before a game against Kansas City on April 24, 2022. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk is on the ground at Mariners spring training in Arizona, and that means M’s guests will be joining them live all week at their table at the Peoria Sports Complex.

On Monday, second-year pitcher Matt Brash broke the ice as Brock and Salk’s first guest, and there was plenty to discuss with a breakout candidate for the 2023 Mariners.

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Brash, who you may have heard has potentially the best pitch in big league history according to data collected by Driveline Baseball, broke camp last season as the final member of Seattle’s starting rotation, but he transitioned to a relief role during the season and ended up being a key piece of the Mariners’ bullpen down the stretch and in the playoffs. While the opportunity to give starting another go was an option, he explained on the show why he will be in the bullpen again this season.

“I mean, that was big for me, knowing my role as a reliever right now,” Brash said. “It was kind of something in the offseason, though, that I had to decide with the Mariners. They kind of gave me the decision if I want to be a starter or reliever, and they’re supporting me and I think we both agreed that my role in the bullpen is really big for this team. I was really looking forward to coming into spring and knowing my role and just kind of coming in, enjoying it and kind of zoning in on what I need to do as a reliever. So I think it’s the right decision.”

The 24-year-old Brash will have a busy spring as the Ontario native is representing Team Canada in the World Baseball Classic, and while that played a part in him choosing to be a reliever this year, it wasn’t alone the determining factor.

“I would say the WBC came after the fact that I was already coming in as a reliever,” he said. “I talked with the Mariners about it for a while, and obviously we have a lot of really good starters and our bullpen did really well at the end of the year and I fit really well with what we’re trying to do. It just seemed like a good fit for both of us and it just happened that the World Baseball Classic was this year and it was a good spot for me to do it, and I’d go in as a reliever because sometimes being a starter in the World Baseball Classic is tough, especially with young guys.”

The Mariners have good depth with their starting rotation, with six pitchers who all had big contributions as starters for Seattle in 2022 back with the team. That would have made cracking the five-man rotation, at least initially, a tough task for Brash, but his choice to be a reliever now doesn’t mean he won’t eventually give starting another try.

“I don’t think it shuts the door. We talked about that and I think I would like in the future to have another chance to start,” said Brash, who had almost exclusively started in college and the minors until last year. “I’ve always been a starter, I’ve always kind of dreamed to do that, I feel like I can (be an MLB starter). But just right now I think it’s about getting big league experience, and this team is really, really good and I feel like I fit really well in this bullpen. So for now, I’ll be a reliever and whatever (happens) down the road happens, but I don’t think there’s any doors closed at this point.”

Brash also talked his new cutter for 2023 and why his repertoire of pitches all tends to break in one direction in the conversation with Brock Huard and Mike Salk, which you can listen to in the player below.

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