Game 158, Athletics at Mariners – Happy Brashday

marc w · September 28, 2021 at 4:26 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Chris Bassitt vs. Tyler Anderson, 7:10pm

It’s been about a month or so since a Jerry Dipoto interview dropped a most intriguing nugget of information: that the M’s considered promoting AA SP pitching prospect Matt Brash to the Mariners bullpen for the close of the season. With Brash’s season winding down and with some of the M’s bullpen arms looking a little tired, you could see the thinking. Brash has mid to high-90s velo, and the kind of break on his slider (and two-seamer) that instantly goes viral on social media. You can debate his future value vis a vis George Kirby, but you can’t debate the fact that it’s…intriguing to imagine what Brash could do in shorter stints in the majors.

That info drop was a tease, as we didn’t really hear anything about it for a while after that. Brash’s season ended along with Arkansas, and, shock of shocks, he wasn’t able to keep up his mind-bending hot streak where AA batters struggled to even foul pitches off against him. Tacoma’s season rolled on, as did the M’s, but there was a lull in news about Brash and a possible promotion. What changed had nothing to do with Brash, but it’s what’s got him here with the Mariners: Yusei Kikuchi got bad in a hurry.

After a series of clunkers, the M’s suddenly decided that they couldn’t send Kikuchi out against the A’s – not with the team just 1.5 games out of the Wild Card. Thus, Brash was promoted to Tacoma, but he never joined the team down in Round Rock. They wanted to make sure they had a healthy crew of bullpen arms, and Chris Flexen’s start yesterday ensured that they would. So, Brash is up to make his MLB debut in a short start? Not…quite.

The M’s have made the somewhat odd decision to give the actual start to Tyler Anderson, last season on Saturday in an outing worse than anything Kikuchi’s produced in a while. Anderson’s been amazing since joining the M’s, but is coming off of that atrocious start on 3 days rest. He won’t likely pitch very much, but it seems odd to me in this context to piggy back Brash with a short-rested Anderson.

That said, the M’s may want to whipsaw A’s hitters by having them face a left-handed low-velo change-of-speeds guy like Anderson before giving the people what they want in the high-octane, ridiculous-breaking slider GIF-machine like Brash. It makes it much harder for the platoon-loving A’s to stack their line-up with lefties vs. Brash. They can pinch hit whenever the change is made, but that just guts their bench for the late innings.

As I mentioned before, my concern here isn’t that Brash isn’t up to this. It’s that he hasn’t thrown *this* specific baseball. AA uses the minor league ball, which are made in China and a different product than the MLB ball, which is made in Costa Rica and uses slightly different specifications. That ball’s been in use in AAA, but hasn’t filtered down to AA. When Brash was initially called up to AAA, I thought it might have been to get him used to the seams and feel of the new baseball, but he never actually threw with Tacoma, who wasn’t anywhere near the Pacific Northwest at the time. So, we’ll just have to see how this goes. As Brash’s control is maybe a weaker point, it’s something to keep an eye on, and you figure the M’s coaches will do just that.

All of that said, and as suspicious as I was about this Anderson-on-short-rest business, I think Brash’s call-up does show that the club is taking this chase seriously, and it probably does give them a better shot than sticking with Kikuchi. It could all go wrong, but hey, Anderson’s last start went wrong – the fact that anything can happen cannot be used to block what gives the M’s their best shot at keeping the A’s off the board.

The M’s saw Bassitt not too long ago, and he pitched well against them – but he only went 3 IP. That was his first start off the IL, so we’ll see how long he gets to go. No matter how good he looks, the M’s batters are clearly pretty confident that they can hit whomever the A’s bring out of the pen. They did it in Oakland, and they really, really hit the A’s pen hard last night. Anderson’s only faced the A’s once this year, and he obviously didn’t throw too many pitches in his abbreviated start against the Angels, and of course none of the A’s have seen Brash. The M’s have a good opportunity tonight, and they need to seize it.

1: Crawford, SS
2: France, 1B
3: Seager, 3B
4: Haniger, RF
5: Toro, 2B
6: Kelenic, CF
7: Torrens, DH
8: Fraley, LF
9: Murphy, C
SP: Anderson/Brash?

Tacoma’s off today, and will be back in Tacoma tomorrow, kicking off a series with Salt Lake.


3 Responses to “Game 158, Athletics at Mariners – Happy Brashday”

  1. Stevemotivateir on September 28th, 2021 7:24 pm

    This is like a mid-week holiday.

  2. Stevemotivateir on September 28th, 2021 8:21 pm

    Watching Toro swing through a center-cut 88mph fastball wasn’t pleasant. He came into tonight’s game sporting a 36 wRC+ this month.

    Did he switch bodies with July-era Kelenic?

  3. Stevemotivateir on September 28th, 2021 9:03 pm

    Sadler extends his scoreless streak. If Seattle holds on they’ll be a half game behind Boston for the second wild card.

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