Pitching Ninja: Mariners’ George Kirby is ‘Maddux plus 10 mph’

May 19, 2023, 12:23 PM

Seattle Mariners George Kirby...

George Kirby of the Seattle Mariners pitches on May 15, 2023. (Paul Rutherford/Getty Images)

(Paul Rutherford/Getty Images)

If you’re on Twitter for baseball content, chances are you’ve seen “The Pitching Ninja” Rob Friedman’s account, which highlights the best and nastiest pitches across the baseball world. And given that the Seattle Mariners have had one of baseball’s best pitching staffs over the last few years, it’s no surprise that their pitchers have been highlighted a number of times by Friedman’s page.

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Friedman, a pitching analyst for MLB, Peacock, FOX Sports and FanDuel Sportsbook joined Curtis Rogers for an interview on Seattle Sports’ Extra Innings on Thursday, which is a show Rogers hosts every Mariners off day from 7 to 9 p.m.

During their conversation, Friedman discussed the Mariners’ pitching at length, including one of his favorite arms in the game.

One thing that stands out about the Mariners, Friedman said, is their pitchers are all “very different” in terms of their style and stuff.

“It’s not like they cookie cut it or have one template, necessarily,” he said.

Two examples of that are in Seattle’s rotation with George Kirby and Logan Gilbert.

“I view Kirby and Gilbert very opposite. I mean, Gilbert pitches with a lot of emotion and Kirby doesn’t,” Friedman said. “They’re just really good at finding out what a pitcher is good at and then accentuating that, that’s what I think. It’s not a formula. It’s actually using their brains and looking at the data and really letting a pitcher develop how they should develop as opposed to fitting them into a box.”

Kirby in particular has stood out this year in his second MLB season.

The 2019 first-round pick has been arguably the Mariners’ best starter this year with a 2.45 ERA, 1.013 WHIP and 41 strikeouts to just four walks in 51 1/3 innings. So far this year, Kirby leads MLB among qualified starters in both walks per nine (0.7) and strikeout to walk ratio (10.25).

“I consider him an ace,” Friedman said. “I actually had him as a dark horse Cy Young candidate before the year. I love his mentality.”

Kirby is known for his elite command, but Friedman stressed it goes even beyond that. He wnt as far as to compare Kirby to one of the greatest command pitchers of all time.

“I think people sleep on his stuff. They know his command but don’t realize he can come close to touching 100 (mph),” he said. “… It’s not like he’s Greg Maddux. He’s Greg Maddux plus 10 mph. So yeah, he absolutely can be an ace. A great, great mind for pitching, and I’m just a big fan.”

Listen to the second hour of this week’s edition of Extra Innings at this link or in the player below.

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