Mariners Takeaways: Brock and Salk react to hot start by M’s
Apr 1, 2019, 1:48 PM
As 710 ESPN Seattle’s Mike Salk put it during Monday morning’s edition of Brock and Salk, the Mariners have had the craziest start to a season any of us have seen.
With the M’s already to five wins just six games into their 2019 campaign, Salk and co-host Brock Huard shared their takeaways from the early going. Here’s some of what they had to say during the 23-minute segment, which you can listen to in its entirety in the player embedded in this post or in podcast form at this link.
The hitters actually ‘Control the Zone‘
In the Mariners’ four-game series against the Red Sox, the hitters saw 76 pitches in three innings against Chris Sale, 89 in five innings against Nathan Eovaldi, 105 in 4 1/3 innings against Eduardo Rodriguez and 73 in 2 2/3 innings against Rick Porcello.
Mike Salk: “This team claimed to want to control the zone but then brought in guys that didn’t control the zone and got arguably worse at it once they were here. Dee Gordon comes to mind. What have they done this year? Good at-bats. See a lot of pitches. I saw the headline in the national news – ‘Red Sox rotation is a mess.’ Maybe. Maybe the Mariners did a good job against them. I would give them a lot of kudos for the way they’ve handled their at-bats. Great gameplan going in, they’ve actually executed as well.”
Brock Huard: “They’re just quality at-bats through and through. Not some abyss on the back end of the lineup as there was for years in this place. Not some youngsters that just unfortunately don’t have it no matter how much time you give them. They’re a bunch of pros, an old veteran team, average age 26, that knows how to put together quality at-bats – 1 through 9 basically can put together quality at-bats. Even Mallex Smith, who’s trying to get into a little bit of rhythm early.”
The Mariners aren’t really doing closer by committee
Hunter Strickland, who started the season as Mariners closer, blew a save Friday and was placed on the injured list Saturday with a Grade 2 right lat strain that will keep him out two months. That leaves the Mariners with a bullpen that entering 2019 had a total of five career saves combined, all belonging to Cory Gearrin.
Salk: “I’ve always loved the idea of closer by committee. The demo reel that got me an interview at 710 ESPN Seattle 10 years ago was all about closer by committee. It’s always fascinated me, and then every time you talk to a pitcher or coach or manager, they all tell you you can’t do it, that roles are more important, closing out games is different. Every piece of anecdotal evidence seems to go against it. Every time you see a guy come in in the ninth who’s not used to it in a save situation, they just seem to implode. The game speeds up on them. The problem is this in testing out closer by committee with this Mariners team: If you really want to do closer by committee, get a bunch of good relievers together and then assign them different roles and see what happens. Say, OK, none of you are the closer, but you’re my ground-ball, double-play guy. You’re my strikeout guy. You’re my lefty guy. You’re my high-leverage guy. It’s essentially what the Indians did a few years ago with Andrew Miller. This isn’t going to be closer by committee for the Mariners. This is throw out whoever is next because none of them have a clue where the ball’s going.”
And then there’s the defense
The Mariners have seven errors in their first six games, including five at third base with Kyle Seager is on the injured list.
Huard: “This defense is scary. Remember that roller-coaster ride we had with Brad Miller? That ball gets hit to the hot corner right now and there’s a different level of appreciation for Kyle Seager after watching somebody else do it for seven games.”