Rumors have been flying around for a few days now regarding who will start for the Seattle Mariners in tonight’s game against the Oakland Athletics. While every game down the stretch is a must-win, tonight’s game feels like a massive game for the Mariners when considering that Oakland is throwing Chris Bassitt (12-4, 3.16 ERA). After the Mariners’ shellacking of the A’s in last night’s 13-4 win, all eyes are on manager Scott Servais and who he picks to start today.
Yusei Kikuchi is a phenomenal pitcher…when he’s on. Earlier in the season, Mariners fans got to see what the Mariners’ front office saw in him when they signed him from the Seibu Lions for 3 years/$43MM back in 2019. Mariners fans have recently seen first-hand what a “less-than-good” Yusei Kikuchi looks like – fans only need to look back at his last start on 9/23 against Oakland (3.0IP, 3H, 3ER, 4BB, 3K) to understand why Servais decided against using him today.
There’s been a flurry of transactions over the past week in preparation for the Mariners’ final Wild Card push. Minor league star Matt Brash had recently been promoted to the Tacoma Rainiers, and was seen in the ballpark yesterday (more on this later). Justus Sheffield was optioned down to the Rainiers to create space for Wyatt Mills. Andres Munoz is currently on rehab assignment with the Rainiers, and could be called up if needed.
All of these moves point to the broader picture: this decision to sit Kikuchi has been in the works, and the team knew they’d need as many good relievers as they could get to prepare for potentially multiple games with long bullpen stretches.
And the starter for the Seattle Mariners today is…
Tyler Anderson gets the nod today, as he only threw 54 pitches in his previous start against the Angels on Saturday. He is throwing on two days short rest, which means that he’s likely going to go for roughly nine outs or ~50 pitches, whichever happens first. His only quality start (7.0IP, 4H, 1ER, 1BB, 7K) in September came against Oakland back on 9/20, but it’s being reported that he went to Mariners Asst. Manager Justin Hollander and asked for today’s game ball. What a beast.
Nine outs puts the Mariners into the 4th inning, so where could Scott Servais turn to next? One option worth considering is a Double-A stud who was seen in the building yesterday, and was even speculated by some to get today’s start: Matt Brash (as of this morning, Mariners Asst. Manager Justin Hollander confirmed via ESPN 710 that the team is adding him to the roster before tonight’s game). If you aren’t familiar with his success in the minors, this is worth a read.
Bottom line: Brash is a fastball/slider beast and could offer some support if the time is right to use him.
It’s frankly good to see the Seattle Mariners make this sort of move with so much on the line. It would have been very easy to simply plug Kikuchi in for his regularly scheduled start, and most likely watch our postseason hopes disappear. This team has momentum, belief, and their recent production has them trending toward making it to the playoffs.
While a record of 5-1 in our final six games probably puts us into some sort of Wild Card play-in scenario, we have one final game against the Angels where Shohei Ohtani is scheduled to start, and I’d like for us to save that potential loss for that game. Plus…let’s just keep kicking Oakland while they’re curled up on the ground like they have done to us for so many years.