Kurkjian: Castillo and Brash two key arms for Mariners in playoffs

Sep 21, 2023, 9:11 AM | Updated: 9:11 am

Seattle Mariners Matt Brash...

Matt Brash of the Seattle Mariners reacts on Sept. 13, 2023. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

The name of the game for the Seattle Mariners this year has been pitching, and with all eyes set towards an October run, two of the team’s top arms were topics of conversation when ESPN’s Tim Kurkjian joined Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk on Wednesday.

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Kurkjian had a front row seat to the best start of Luis Castillo‘s life last October when the veteran right-hander spun seven innings of shutout ball against the Toronto Blue Jays in Game 1 of the American League Wild Card Round. Kurkjian was on the TV call for ESPN.

Kurkjian, who has covered MLB for for over 40 years, had some pretty noteworthy praise for just how good Castillo was in that game.

“That was as filthy of stuff as I think I’ve ever seen,” he said.

In fact, Castillo was so nasty that day that one of his Mariners teammates told Kurkjian they needed to change the game’s rules.

“It was so good that the next day, one of the Mariners told me, ‘We have to move the pitcher’s mound back to 65 feet.’ Sixty-five! Because he said watching the Blue Jays try to hit our guy last night, there is not enough reaction time to hit that. He’s too good,” Kurkjian said. “Elite fastball, elite slider and an elite changeup. And when he’s right, nobody can hit that guy. So yes, that was probably the best seven innings that I saw thrown all of last year. The Blue Jays had zero chance.”

Castillo has been stellar this year, which is his first full season with the Mariners. He has a 3.06 ERA and 207 strikeouts in 188 1/3 innings this year.

Kurkjian said that won’t be good enough to win the AL Cy Young Award over New York Yankees ace Gerrit Cole, but he thinks Castillo could have a pretty darn good consolation prize.

“Just like pitching Game 1 of the playoffs last year, if the Mariners make it this year, then he has to pitch Game 1 because that stuff is as good as there is in the game,” he said. “And it may not show it in all of the numbers this year, but again, if he pitches like he did in Game 1 against Toronto last year, they’re gonna win Game 1 of the playoffs because I repeat, nobody can hit that stuff when he’s that good.”

Someone else who’s got nasty stuff for the Mariners is young reliever Matt Brash, who has turned into one of Seattle’s go-to bullpen arms.

“Fellas, he’s got 100 strikeouts,” Kurkjian told Brock and Salk. “He’s a relief pitcher. And what that means is he’s not just a reliever. He’s a guy that can pitch short, he can pitch middle, he can pitch long.”

That could lead to Brash being key for the Mariners in the playoffs, Kurkjian added.

“Remember, he was their ‘rescue’ guy last year. The starting pitcher has trouble early, they bring Matt Brash in. That’s how they won that second game against Toronto last year,” he said. “When Robbie Ray struggled, they brought Brash in, he held the fort and then they caught up and won that amazing second game. So yes, he’s had a tremendous season, and they’ve just got to keep him as fresh as possible because if they make it to the playoffs, they’re going to need him at his very best in October.”

Listen to the full conversation with Kurkjian at this link or in the player near the top of this story.

More on the Seattle Mariners

• Kurkjian: Why Mariners’ Julio Rodríguez, J.P. Crawford will get MVP votes
• Drayer: Seattle Mariners find payoff in not trying to do too much
• Salk: Who do Mariners need to step up during intense final stretch?
• Mariners’ J.P. Crawford homers, celebrates by petting dog
• Which big bats could Seattle Mariners get this winter? Watch for trades, says Morosi

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Kurkjian: Castillo and Brash two key arms for Mariners in playoffs