BROCK AND SALK

Hot start by Mariners’ Bryan Woo isn’t all about him that’s ‘absurd’

May 22, 2024, 12:28 PM | Updated: 1:14 pm

Seattle Mariners Bryan Woo...

Bryan Woo of the Seattle Mariners pitches against the New York Yankees on May 21, 2024. (Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

(Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Throughout the baseball offseason, a big question about the Seattle Mariners was if they would trade one of their talented young starting pitchers for an impact hitter.

Watch: Red-hot Dylan Moore slugs two HRs for M’s at Yankee Stadium

The Mariners didn’t do that, and it’s hard to argue with the decision right now. That’s not just because Seattle continues to lead the American League West, entering Wednesday with a 27-22 record and three-game lead over the reigning World Series champion Texas Rangers (24-25) for first place. It’s also because of what those young starters have provided, and especially the recent stretch from Bryan Woo.

Seattle was without the 24-year-old Woo for more than a month to begin the season as he dealt with elbow inflammation, but he’s been completely dominant since his return. He threw six scoreless innings of two-hit ball with seven strikeouts in a win Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium, and in three starts (15 2/3 innings) this season he has allowed just six hits, two walks and one earned run.

Tuesday: Woo, Moore lead Seattle Mariners past Yankees 6-3

“I was just looking at the numbers this morning – they’re really absurd,” said Mike Salk during Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk on Wednesday morning. “Just actually going through what he’s done in these 15 2/3 innings … the righties have one hit. One hit, no walks. That is the extent of the damage righties have done against him for a WHIP of 0.14. Lefties have been much more successful – they have a whopping five hits and two walks for a WHIP of 0.81 and a batting average of .161. He’s been absurd.”

By the way, Woo’s numbers look even more incredible when you factor in his rehab assignment with Triple-A Tacoma before returning to the Mariners. With the Rainiers, Woo logged 11 1/3 innings over three appearances, allowing no runs on five hits and no walks while striking out 17 batters.

Put them together, and it means one run total has crossed the plate in the six times Woo has pitched in a game this year.

A different brand of fastball

On the other side of the conversation with Salk was Mariners insider Shannon Drayer of Seattle Sports, who provided a fascinating detail that makes this incredible stretch by Woo look even more impressive – he’s been relying mostly on the most common pitch in the game.

“What’s remarkable is he’s been doing it with about an 80% fastball rate,” Drayer said, “so he’s just coming right after them and hitting his spots, and it’s a fantastic start. It’s why I don’t think he was ever on the table for any kind of (offseason trade) this year. (The Mariners) realized what he has got with his fastball, and he’s a very special pitcher and they’re being very careful with him right now.”

What makes Woo’s fastball so hard to hit?

“I asked (Mariners first baseman) Ty France what it looks like when I did the walk-off interview (on the Mariners radio broadcast on Seattle Sports) last night, and he said it’s just all over the place,” Drayer said. “It’s coming out hot and the ball jumps, and he said it would definitely be a very uncomfortable at-bat. And when you look at how he’s been able to work north and south, too – I mean, if you’re looking for a fastball, good luck, because it could be pretty much anywhere.”

Salk is blown away by what Woo is doing with his heater.

“He’s blowing middle-middle fastballs by (Yankees star) Aaron Judge yesterday,” he said. “I know (Mariners manager Scott Servais) said that it’s a weird arm angle and it looks different from everybody else, and the hitters feel like the ball’s not where it’s supposed to be given what everybody else’s does. You don’t just blow middle-middle fastballs by Aaron Judge – not when he’s been locked in the way he has for the last couple of weeks. That’s pretty insane.”

Diamond in the rough

There’s one other thing about Woo that makes his story special.

“I can never say it enough, it blows me away how he’s able to do what he does with such a limited history in the game itself,” Drayer said. “He has not pitched in very many games (in his life compared to other MLB pitchers). He didn’t start pitching, I believe, until his junior year in high school. I think he started maybe nine games in college and summer ball, and then a very short (amount of time in the) minor leagues. He was pretty shocked that he got drafted, and he we went to the one college that would take him.”

Listen to the full Brock and Salk conversation with Mariners insider Shannon Drayer in the podcast at this link or in the player near the top of this post. Catch Brock and Salk from 6-10 a.m. weekdays on Seattle Sports 710 AM, the Seattle Sports app and SeattleSports.com.

More Seattle Mariners coverage

What a potential Mariners trade for an impact bat could look like
Did Mariners relay tipped pitch on Moore HR, or are Yankees paranoid?
Is it time Mariners call up hot-hitting prospect from Double-A?
Passan: What Mariners’ big comeback win shows the value of
Lefko: Are Seattle Mariners’ chaotic comebacks the path back to October?

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Hot start by Mariners’ Bryan Woo isn’t all about him that’s ‘absurd’