Mariners Notebook: What M’s are looking for with Bryan Woo

Jun 16, 2023, 5:13 PM

Seattle Mariners Bryan Woo...

Bryan Woo of the Seattle Mariners pitches against the Angels on June 10, 2023. (Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)

(Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)

The Seattle Mariners already young starting rotation got even younger two weeks ago when Bryan Woo made his MLB debut in Texas, pitching in place of the injured Marco Gonzales.

Video: Seattle Mariners Breakdown – Does this slow start feel different?

Woo’s first career start was a tough one as he allowed six earned runs in just two innings of work.

But the 2021 sixth-round pick put together a better outing in his second MLB start, allowing two runs and striking out seven in 4 2/3 innings of work against the Angels last week.

“He got into his game a little bit,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said before Friday’s game. “… Texas jumped on him early and I thought last time out, he was able to get the fastball going – that’s his pitch, of course – and then once he got settled in, we saw some decent breaking balls and he did a nice job.”

Woo is set to make his third career start – and first at home at T-Mobile Park – Friday night against the Chicago White Sox.

“Expectations, I’m not looking for him to go seven shutout innings – I’ll take it – but we’re not looking for that,” Servais said.

Servais said the Mariners are looking for something like Woo’s last time out, ideally giving them five strong innings before handing it over to the bullpen.

“If he’s cruising along and is at 70 pitches after five innings, I’ll absolutely run him back out there. But we’re not looking to extend him,” Servais said. “This is a guy who’s not pitched a lot of innings — bulk innings — in a professional season, so we do need to be aware of those things.”

The White Sox have had their share of struggles this year, as evidenced by their 30-40 record entering Friday, but they’re aggressive and have power in their lineup, Servais said.

“I think it’s a good matchup for Bryan, but he’s gonna have to get ahead in the count,” he said.

Servais was asked about developing young pitchers in-season at the MLB level, and he stressed that those young starters still need to stay in “development mode” even though they’re in the big leagues.

“Maybe on certain nights he doesn’t have a feel for his breaking pitch or changeup. You’ve got to still work on them and still throw them, but you try to throw them in situations where it’s not gonna hurt you or in certain counts where it’s not gonna hurt you,” he said.

With Woo, Servais said a key is his process between starts, which begins with a debrief after his most recent outing. That’s important, as is being around other starting pitchers, even though most of the rotation is very young, the M’s skipper said.

“Even though we do have a young staff, we’ve got guys that have gone through it recently with Logan (Gilbert) and George (Kirby) and now Bryce (Miller) that (Woo) can lean on. So there’s a lot to be gained, a lot of knowledge to be gained, even when you’re not out there throwing pitches,” Servais said.

Seattle Mariners Lineup

J.P. Crawford, SS
Julio Rodríguez, CF
Ty France, 1B
Teoscar Hernández, RF
Jarred Kelenic, LF
Eugenio Suárez, 3B
Cal Raleigh, C
Mike Ford, DH
José Caballero, 2B

Bryan Woo, SP

Chicago White Sox Lineup

Tim Anderson, SS
Andrew Benintendi, LF
Luis Robert Jr., CF
Eloy Jiménez, DH
Jake Burger, 3B
Gavin Sheets, RF
Andrew Vaughn, 1B
Elvis Andrus, 2B
Seby Zavala, C

Michael Kopech, SP


• After a hot spell in June, Rodríguez has cooled off, slashing .196/.245/.326 in June so far.

“A lot of it is intent with Julio and pitch selection,” Servais said. “Like any player, swinging at the right pitches is is huge … Julio is still super aggressive. Instead of just hitting his pitch and making the pitcher come to him, he wants to go make it happen. And I’d like to see him kind of take a step back and make the pitcher come to him because they’re a little afraid of them. And then he can use that to his advantage.”

• Two guys who are hot at the plate for the Mariners are France and Hernández.

France is slashing .338/.398/.588 over his last 20 games while Hernández is slashing .350/.422/.600 in June.

• Caballero hasn’t just been good for the Mariners since debuting, he’s been good period.

Per Fangraphs, Caballero’s 129 wRC+ is tied for second-best among MLB second baseman this year who have at least 120 plate appearances. (Note: Caballero has 126 entering Friday).

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