Blowers on M’s recent pitching run: ‘Never seen anything like it’

Apr 30, 2024, 7:07 PM | Updated: May 1, 2024, 8:34 am

Seattle Mariners George Kirby Reds 2024...

George Kirby of the Seattle Mariners pitches against Cincinnati on April 15. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

It’s been an otherworldly stretch of pitching for the Seattle Mariners.

And a historic one, too.

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

The Mariners’ pitching staff has posted a 1.53 ERA over their past 17 games through Monday night, with 169 strikeouts and just 36 walks over that span. That makes them the first team in MLB history to record both a sub-1.60 ERA and 160-plus strikeouts over a 17-game stretch, according to the team’s communications department.

Seattle’s 1.53 ERA since April 10 is also the best in franchise history over a 17-game span and the best in MLB over a 17-game span since Cleveland in 2017.

ROOT Sports Mariners analyst and former MLB third baseman Mike Blowers, who played 11 seasons in the majors from 1989 to 1999, discussed the incredible run of pitching Tuesday during his appearance on Seattle Sports’ Wyman and Bob.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” Blowers said. “Even if you have five quality starters, somebody typically is just going to have a bad day. You’re going to fall down and some team’s gonna take it to you, but that just hasn’t happened with these guys on this run that they’re on. … It’s been awesome to watch.”

Blowers was asked what stands out about how the Mariners develop their pitchers. Aside from ace Luis Castillo, the team’s other four starting pitchers were drafted and developed in Seattle’s organization.

“They’re all different in their own unique way,” Blowers said. “But I think (the Mariners) just do a great job of identifying what these guys do as far as their pitches and what’s the best thing for them to do and how often to throw it. And then they go from there.”

One common theme in Seattle’s starting rotation is velocity. Logan Gilbert, George Kirby, Castillo and Bryce Miller have each averaged at least 95 mph on their four-seam fastballs this season, according to Statcast. They each excel at using their fastball as a weapon to complement their overall pitch mix, and vice versa.

That’s been especially evident over the past few nights. Kirby generated 18 swings and misses with his four-seam fastball in his brilliant outing Saturday night, while Miller got 15 whiffs with his four-seamer in his gem Monday night. No other pitchers in the majors have generated at least 15 whiffs on their four-seamer in a game this season, according to MLB.com reporter Daniel Kramer.

“They’ll blow your doors off with their fastball, and they know that,” Blowers said.

Another common theme is control. Seattle’s organization has emphasized a “control the zone” mantra over the years, and it’s resulted in a pitching staff that consistently gets ahead in counts and limits walks. Mariners pitchers have an MLB-low 6.5% walk rate this season, along with an MLB-low 1.03 WHIP.

“They get guys that throw strikes, first and foremost,” Blowers said. “And then they make sure that they believe in what they’re doing and they throw the baseball with conviction. And for the young pitchers in that group – which is all of them but Castillo – I think it’s been extraordinary to watch them get after it.”

And though Seattle’s starting rotation has received most of the attention, the Mariners’ bullpen has been just as dominant. Seattle relievers have an MLB-best 2.42 ERA and 1.02 WHIP this season, according to Fangraphs.

“They identify something that is unique and different with a pitcher that maybe that pitcher doesn’t know or understand, or they don’t throw that pitch enough,” Blowers said. “Or they see somebody that they can tweak it and instead of a slider, it becomes a sweeper and that becomes a big pitch for them.

“They just have a really good knack for identifying things that these guys do well,” he added, “and then getting them to buy in that they need to throw that pitch more often.”

Listen to the full conversation with Mike Blowers from Tuesday’s Wyman and Bob in the podcast at this link or in the player near the top of this post. 

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