Justin Hollander breaks down just how good the Mariners’ pitching depth is

Mar 24, 2023, 4:19 PM

Mariners pitching...

Luis Castillo of the Seattle Mariners celebrates with Andres Munoz on Oct. 7, 2022. (Mark Blinch/Getty Images)

(Mark Blinch/Getty Images)

The Mariners wouldn’t have won 90 games in back-to-back years if not for their pitching, which has been the team’s strength over the past two seasons.

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Some starting rotation rankings don’t have the Mariners in the top 10, but general manager Justin Hollander doesn’t think that’s the case at all.

“I have to think it’s being underestimated,” he told Seattle Sports’ Wyman and Bob on Friday. “I don’t count us as the 18th or 16th or 15th best rotation and baseball. We’ll see how it goes at the end of the year. But I think we’re elite. That’s that’s how I view our rotation. We have a 1-5, a 1-6 or if you want to go a 1-10 or as good as anybody, in my opinion.”

That depth is especially what’s notable for the Mariners heading into the season.

The Mariners’ five-man rotation is set, with Luis Castillo leading the charge alongside Robbie Ray, Logan Gilbert, Marco Gonzales and George Kirby. Seattle also has an established MLB starter in the mix in Chris Flexen, giving the M’s some great depth at the MLB level.

But it doesn’t stop after those six, as the Mariners have a handful of promising young pitchers who are knocking on the MLB door.

The Mariners have five top pitching prospects who could all very well debut this season: Bryce Miller, Prelander Berroa, Emerson Hancock, Taylor Dollard and Bryan Woo. The team’s young pitching prospects have certainly turned heads at camp this spring.

Hollander called that group of young pitchers a “pleasant thought to have.”

“Whether it’s Prelander Berroa lighting everybody up on the first live BP, seeing a healthy and confident Emerson Hancock, watching Bryce Miller go out and show elite stuff outing after outing, and then seeing how far Bryan Woo has come in just a very short time. That’s a really talented group,” Hollander said. “And to know that we have the starting rotation that we have and the group behind them, that lets me sleep well at night, because you can never have enough depth.”

The Mariners’ pitching depth really wasn’t put to the test last year as no starting pitcher missed a single start. That level of health is nearly unprecendented, and it’s not something Hollander or the M’s front office is counting on in 2023.

“Obviously, last year, we didn’t miss any starts due to injury. I don’t want to promise that’s not going to happen – I hope that happens again, but it seems unlikely that it will – and knowing the group behind them is really ready to go and equipped to help us at some point in the big leagues this year is really exciting for us,” he said.

On top of that excellent rotation is a bullpen that has been one of the best in baseball the last two years.

Andrés Muñoz and Paul Sewald are back as Seattle’s two key leverage arms, while Matt Brash is seen as a breakout candidate. Additionally, the M’s have Diego Castillo, Matt Festa and Penn Murfee all returning, too.

“I feel really good. This is the best, deepest group we’ve had in a long time,” Hollander said of the Mariners’ bullpen. “And we’ve had two groups over the last few years, but this group is going to be really good. It’s really talented … it’s a really good group. We feel really confident.”

And like with the Mariners’ rotation, the bullpen has a lot of talented arms, even if some of those pitchers may not break camp with the MLB team.

“Guys like Gabe Speier and Justin Topa, guys that we acquired in the offseason, those guys have really shown out this spring,” Hollander said. “Really, really happy with our depth.”

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