BROCK AND SALK

Servais: Rotation giving Mariners a chance to win ‘pretty much every game’

May 11, 2023, 9:02 AM

Seattle Mariners Logan Gilbert George Kirby...

George Kirby and Logan Gilbert of the Seattle Mariners talk before a game on Sept. 27, 2022. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

The Seattle Mariners haven’t gotten off to the best of starts in 2023, but that sure hasn’t been the fault of the team’s pitching staff.

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The Mariners are near the top of MLB in ERA, strikeouts, home runs allowed and walks issued.

Once again, Seattle has an excellent bullpen, but really it all starts with the team’s five-man starting rotation, which currently consists of Luis Castillo, Logan Gilbert, George Kirby, Marco Gonzales and rookie Bryce Miller.

During a Wednesday morning interview with Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk, Mariners manager Scott Servais was asked about his starting rotation quite a bit.

Servais, a longtime MLB catcher, was also asked which of his pitchers he’d least like to face. That’s a tough question to answer, according to the skipper.

“Every one of our guys has got some stuff that I could not touch, for sure. But that’s the beauty of our staff. They’re all unique. They all do it a little bit differently,” Servais said. “We saw Logan just dominate the other night with the high fastball and the big curveball and the fastball was really getting on guys. We know how George does it with the command, the 2-seam, the 4-seam, the breaking ball. Luis Castillo does it from the different arm slot and just a totally different look from a right-handed pitcher. And then we’re getting a quick glimpse of Bryce Miller and what he’s got the fire out there. And then Marco is totally different than all of them.

“It’s really a fun staff to watch pitch every day. We take the field and feel good about who we’re sending out there is going to keep us in the game. And they have. They have given us a chance to win pretty much every game that we walk on the field.”

Kirby is one of the more unique pitchers in baseball as he has arguably the best command of any starter in the game. After pitching seven scoreless innings on Tuesday, Kirby’s 2023 ERA is just 2.62 and he has 35 strikeouts to just three walks over 44 2/3 innings in seven starts.

“He can repeat his delivery as good as any young pitcher I think I’ve ever been around. And his ability to do that allows for the awesome command, getting the ball on the edges and pitching just off the edges when he needs to,” Servais said.

While Kirby’s ability to command the zone has been well-documented, his competitive fire is something Servais feels doesn’t get enough attention.

“You want to get out of the way on this guy’s day to pitch,” Servais said. “He’ll tear your head off and rip your heart out. He wants to win, He wants to go deep in the ballgame and he’s just been throwing great. His stuff continues to get better. Some nights the breaking balls are better than others, but last night he had it all going on. It was fun to watch.”

Speaking of that competitive fire, there’s more to that in the Mariners’ rotation, especially among the young starters. Servais said that especially with Kirby and Gilbert pitching back-to-back, those two compete with one another to have the better outing. And the rookie Miller is adding himself to that category, too.

“Competition is good no matter where it happens. Amongst your team, that’s even better with guys trying to one up each other,” Servais said. “I think we saw a little bit of that back in the Braves heyday. And I’m not putting our guys in that bucket yet, but those pitchers the Braves ran out there with (Hall of Famers John) Smoltz and (Tom) Glavine and (Greg) Maddux and the guys they had were super competitive amongst themselves. Our guys have got a long way to go to get to that status, but they carry a lot of the same traits. They don’t want to let the team down, today’s their day, they want to step up, they want to go seven innings and keep us right there and that’s a good problem to have. It’s been fun to watch.”

Listen to the full interview with Servais at this link or in the player below.

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Servais: Rotation giving Mariners a chance to win ‘pretty much every game’