The Mariners have a number of roster decisions to make in the near future, and one that will soon be at the center of attention is what Seattle does with the starting rotation.
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Currently, the Mariners have six starting pitchers on their MLB roster, but president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto has said he does not want to utilize a six-man starting rotation.
“I do think we’re leaning against running with six starters. We may do something along the lines of a piggyback where two starters share a game,” Dipoto said Mike Salk on Seattle Sports Station 710 AM last Thursday. “That’s something that we would like to do to try to help (rookie George Kirby) manage the innings total.”
That led many to believe Kirby and veteran lefty Marco Gonzales would be the piggyback duo as Kirby’s innings are being watched and Gonzales has not been quite as sharp as of late.
But after Monday’s loss to the New York Yankees, Salk and Brock Huard think Logan Gilbert may be the guy who should be paired with Kirby going forward. Gilbert is now at 132 1/3 innings this year after pitching 119 1/3 innings as a rookie in 2021.
“(Dipoto) didn’t say which two pitchers, but in watching Logan struggle again last night, don’t you think it has to be Logan and George?” Salk said. “I mean, who how else would you do that?”
Replied Huard, “I think those are the two. Certainly not (Luis) Castillo, it’s certainly not (Robbie) Ray. It’s certainly not Marco.”
Added Salk, “I don’t think there’s any reason for it to be (Chris) Flexen either. So it’s got to be (Gilbert and Kirby). And maybe it’s time with Logan. I mean, his last two starts he’s gotten shelled.”
In Gilbert’s last two starts – both of which came against the Yankees – he has allowed a combined 13 runs and 17 hits while striking out just four hitters. His ERA for the year jumped up almost a full point from 2.78 to 3.47 as a result.
Mariners manager Scott Servais told reporters after Monday’s loss that he’s not worried about Gilbert going forward.
“Coming out of the All-Star Break, Logan Gilbert has faced the Astros and the Astros and the Yankees and the Yankees. That happens,” Servais said. “They have good lineups, very deep lineups. I think his stuff is good and he’s competing very well. You look at all of those outings and the ones against the Astros I think were very good. I think he threw the ball decently against the Yankees. They got him in the last inning he was out there over (in New York) and then they got him a little bit tonight. Logan’s gonna be clutch for us down the stretch. He’s a workaholic, he’s on top of it. I don’t really have any concerns.”
Huard noted that with Gilbert, his opponent’s slugging percentage has gone up every month this season, as has his hard-hit rate.
“And the eye test,” Salk added. “… But Scott’s right. Them playing the Yankees twice does not help… That is going to be a challenge for anybody. But (the Mariners) have a responsibility to protect him a little bit.”
Not only has Gilbert set a new career-high in MLB innings this year with roughly two months remaining, he’s roughly three innings away from exceeding his career-high innings total as a pro, which came in 2019, his first year in the minors.
MLB Network insider John Morosi told Seattle Sports 710 AM’s Wyman and Bob that he thinks the Mariners are well-suited to do the right thing with young pitchers like Gilbert going forward, and their manager being a former big league catcher has something to do with it .
“He excels in understanding how to handle young pitching,” Morosi said of Servais. “He obviously is a catcher by profession, he’s been a manager now for a number of years and he comes at this from a player development background with both Texas and the Angels. He gets it. And if you were to look around Major League Baseball and say, ‘If you’re going to have to lean on some younger pitching down the stretch, who do you trust in the American League to keep that group healthy and rested where you can maybe peel off an out here and there, an inning to make sure that they’re really good to go by late September?’ I think Scott is that person. So they’ve got the right manager there.”
“They’ve done a pretty good job, but now comes the next part of it,” Salk said. “You’ve got six pitchers and you have to figure out a way to use them and do it now, because it’s still possible somebody gets hurt, in which case you need to use all five of your pitchers again.”
Huard noted that the workload will be different going forward as well due to the Mariners being in a playoff push.
“And now comes some different kinds of innings. It’s in pressurized games, in pressurized weeks against a schedule that everybody says is easy,” he said. “And we know that’s not the way professional sports works. We know you’re gonna get everybody’s best shot. We know that you’re in a position you’ve not necessarily been in in August. You’ve been pushing and pushing for playoffs and pushing at the end of last season. But right now you’re actually in it and right now there’s expectations being built, so those innings that you pitch have a little bit more pressure than they did in April and May.”
Listen to the full second hour of Tuesday’s Mike Salk Show at this link or in the player below.
Salk: We’re still trying to figure the Mariners out — especially 2 things