BROCK AND SALK

Servais: Mariners’ ‘high expectations’ in large part due to pitching

Feb 27, 2024, 1:09 PM | Updated: 3:32 pm

Spring training is in full swing for the Seattle Mariners, and their skipper likes the way the team is looking right now.

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“As I am every year, I’m excited about our team and the prospects for where it can go,” Mariners manager Scott Servais told Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk live from spring training on Tuesday. “And we’ve got very high expectations.”

A big reason for those expectations? The Mariners boast one of the top pitching staffs in baseball.

Servais made it clear that the Mariners’ success “starts with pitching,” both because of who they have but also because of how the game is played.

“That’s never going to change in our game. As much as the game changes and evolves in how you value runs and position players, it’s all about pitching and run prevention,” he said. “And we’re very fortunate we’ve got good, young starting pitching and we have great arms out of the bullpen.”

The Mariners play in arguably the most pitcher-friendly ballpark in MLB, and Servais said the team will “always” be built on pitching and defense as a result.

“We play in T-Mobile Park, and in April and May it can be challenging to score a lot of runs there. It evens out in June, July and August, but early in the year, it’s tough,” he said. “And to lean on that pitching, it’s who we are.”

The Mariners did trade veteran starters Robbie Ray and Marco Gonzales this offseason, but those two missed considerable time in 2023. The five-man rotation that the M’s ended the year with of Luis Castillo, George Kirby, Logan Gilbert, Bryce Miller and Bryan Woo remains intact. That comes after an offseason where some of those guys, namely Miller and Woo, were rumored trade chips as the Mariners looked to address the lineup.

“I certainly did not want to lose any of the guys, and even with Robbie and Marco moving on, it was tough,” Servais said. “But we’re in a position because we’ve done a good job in developing young pitchers that we felt good about the guys we have and we wanted to hang on to it.”

A key part of Servais’ offseason

As detailed by the Seattle Times’ Ryan Divish, Servais made it a point to visit a number of core players – Julio Rodríguez, Cal Raleigh, J.P. Crawford, Ty France, Castillo and Gilbert – this offseason. A big part of that was because at the start of the offseason, the Mariners were doing far more subtraction than addition.

Servais told Brock and Salk that visiting players during the winter months is something he used to do more early in his Mariners tenure, but that it was important to do that this offseason.

“As our offseason got going, there was a negative tone to it. And I wanted to make sure that our players understood as best as I could at that time where we were headed,” Servais said. “I didn’t have all the answers. I didn’t know how it was going to play out. But I think there’s a point you’ve got to trust people and believe in people and you have to be up front and honest with players … I think we were at a point where we needed to do that with our core guys.”

Those players “responded very well,” Servais said, and that’s carried over into spring training.

“The way our offseason played out, we’ve added some very impactful players into our lineup we needed to to maybe have a little bit different look to our offensive team,” he said. “And we have. I feel very confident it’s going to play out well for us. And I think our players, the ones that were here last year, see that those additions are guys that have a chance to be key contributors for us, and we needed it. So we’re in a good spot. We have a long ways to go and there will be some ups and downs along the way. But I like our team. I like how our team’s wired. This team, like I keep saying, they’ve got something to prove.”

Listen to Brock and Salk’s full interview with Scott Servais at this link or in the video player near the top of this story.

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