BROCK AND SALK

How Mariners could keep Emerson Hancock when Bryan Woo returns

Apr 30, 2024, 12:26 PM | Updated: 12:28 pm

Seattle Mariners Emerson Hancock...

Emerson Hancock of the Seattle Mariners pitches against the Chicago Cubs on April 13, 2024. (Alika Jenner/Getty Images)

(Alika Jenner/Getty Images)

The Seattle Mariners seem to be are on the verge of one of those classic good problems to have in baseball.

By the numbers: Mariners pitching in midst of historically great stretch

Seattle’s rotation has been on an astoundingly great run, registering 17 straight games in which M’s starters have not allowed more than two earned runs. Making that all the more impressive is the fact that the Mariners, who lead the American League West with a 16-13 record, aren’t even at full strength when it comes to their starting pitching.

Rookie right-hander Emerson Hancock has logged two of the starts in those 17 games, and he currently is on a three-game personal streak of quality starts. Over those three games, the 24-year-old Hancock has allowed just four earned runs with 12 strikeouts to three walks (plus one hit batter) in 18 innings.

Hancock wasn’t the man initially penciled in to be Seattle’s No. 5 starter, though. That pitcher was Bryan Woo, who was shut down just days before the start of the regular season with elbow inflammation.

The 24-year-old Woo is now nearing his return, and he sure looks ready to go. In a pair of outings on a rehab assignment with Triple-A Tacoma, Woo has allowed just two hits and no free passes over 6 1/3 scoreless innings, striking out 11 batters long the way.

So on to the potential good problem for the Mariners. If Woo, who is set to have one more rehab start with the Rainiers this week, is able to return on schedule and the M’s rotation continues to stay healthy, what should Seattle do?

Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk posed that question to ESPN MLB insider Jeff Passan on their show Tuesday.

“I think the discussion is do you send Hancock down (to Triple-A) and let him remain stretched out and throwing innings, or do you explore the possibility of keeping Emerson Hancock up as a three-plus-inning reliever?” Passan replied.

Now that’s an interesting idea.

The multi-innings reliever has fallen out of fashion in recent years, but Passan made a pretty good pitch for a player like Hancock to revive the role.

“I would like to have somebody there who I know, if my starter goes six innings, maybe I put Emerson Hancock out there for three and let him throw 50 pitches and keep him as stretched out as possible while producing the way that he can, because we need that,” Passan said. “… You could stretch (Hancock) right back out (to starting pitcher length), but (he could be) a guy who can, if not allow you to save your bullpen, certainly pitch productive leverage innings. You just don’t see relief pitchers go through the order one time, but I would like to see that from a relief pitcher.”

By the way, the Mariners’ bullpen has been pretty lights out itself. Even with two of Seattle’s more talented relievers on the injured list in Matt Brash and Gregory Santos, Seattle entered Tuesday leading MLB in reliever ERA (2.52) and WHIP (1.02). That pairs nicely with the Mariners starting rotation’s 3.36 ERA (fifth in MLB) and 1.03 WHIP (second), and it’s worth pointing out that the 169 innings logged by Seattle starters (second) has kept the bullpen’s workload down to just 89.1 innings (second fewest in the league).

Now just think what adding Hancock to that ‘pen could be like.

“I understand the Mariners’ bullpen has been extraordinarily good so far,” Passan said, “but I love the idea of the long reliever who’s not a mop-up reliever. It’s just a dude who can go out and shove, and do so in wins so you don’t have to go to the traditional seventh inning set-up guy, (then a) closer every time you get a good start.”

The Mariners continue their series against the National League East-leading Atlanta Braves (19-8) at T-Mobile Park at 6:40 p.m. Tuesday. Catch Mariners Radio Network coverage on Seattle Sports 710 AM, the Seattle Sports app and SeattleSports.com beginning at 5:30 p.m. with the pregame show. For details on how to stream Mariners broadcasts from Seattle Sports, click here.

Listen to the full Brock and Salk conversation with ESPN MLB insider Jeff Passan in the podcast at this link or in the player in this post.

More on the Seattle Mariners

• Monday: Mitch Garver’s walkoff homer lifts Mariners over Braves 2-1
In return to Seattle, Braves’ Kelenic says he’s learned from past struggles
Drayer: Why Mariners are sending Jonatan Clase back to Triple-A
Report: MLB to modify Nike uniforms after complaints by players, fans
Watch: Seattle Mariners call-up has memorable first MLB at-bat

Brock and Salk podcast

Mariners Roof Report

Brought to you by
Rain Showers
High 56° | Low 44°
Mariners are on the road.
Mariners at Orioles today at 1:05pm

Brock and Salk

Seattle Mariners players J.P. Crawford and Julio Rodríguez...

Zac Hereth

Ranked: 5 Seattle Mariners who need to step up

Seattle Sports' Mike Salk breaks down the five Seattle Mariners who could help the team most by stepping up their game.

23 hours ago

...

Seattle Sports Video

Video: Dave Wyman and Bob Stelton react to the 2024 Seattle Seahawks schedule release

What did Dave Wyman and Bob Stelton think about the Seattle Seahawks schedule that was released this week? Did the NFL actually help the Seahawks and their chances to make the playoffs next season? Wyman and Bob discussed that and what their final record might be looking at this schedule today. Why do they think […]

2 days ago

Seattle Seahawks free agent target Justin Simmons...

Zac Hereth

A free agent Brock has his eye on for Seattle Seahawks

Ex-Seattle Seahawks QB Brock Huard highlights safety Justin Simmons as the best player left in free agency, and one who would help Seattle.

2 days ago

Seattle Seahawks Leonard Williams NFL Free Agency...

Cameron Van Til

Will Seahawks be this year’s NFL team that makes a leap?

One NFL analyst looks at the Seattle Seahawks as a potential breakthrough team in 2024. Brock Huard gives his reaction.

2 days ago

...

Seattle Sports Video

Video: Brock Huard and Mike Salk react to the 2024 Seattle Seahawks schedule release

What did Brock Huard and Mike Salk think about the Seattle Seahawks schedule that was released this week? Did the NFL actually help the Seahawks and their chances to make the playoffs next season? Brock and Salk discussed that and what their final record might be looking at this schedule today. Why do they think […]

2 days ago

...

Seattle Sports Video

Video: Do we know the identity of the 2024 Seattle Mariners team?

At this point in the MLB season, do we know the identity of the 2024 Seattle Mariners team? If so, what is it? Brock Huard and Mike Salk discussed that and what it might mean for this team the rest of the season. If they don’t have an identity yet, can they establish one at […]

3 days ago

How Mariners could keep Emerson Hancock when Bryan Woo returns