Mariners: Chris Flexen Is Back to Being Chris Flexen

Over his last four starts, Seattle Mariners pitcher Chris Flexen has delivered three quality starts (6+ IP, 3 ER or less) and is once again looking like the pitcher that was arguably the best in the Mariners’ rotation last season.

Chris Flexen

May 3, 2022; Houston, Texas, USA; Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Chris Flexen (77) delivers a pitch against the Houston Astros during the first inning at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports

After an unproductive first start of the season against the Twins, Chris Flexen has pitched 24.2 innings over four starts with a 2.55 ERA and, most impressively, a 1.01 WHIP.  Flexen likely won’t continue to average only one baserunner per inning, but recently, his stuff has been effective enough to keep the base paths clean.

During his first two starts of the season, Flexen relied on his fastball for about 46% of his pitches; since then, he’s lowered that average to 37.5% of his pitches, while mixing in his cutter, curveball, and changeup on a more consistent basis. For a pitcher like Flexen, whose fastball typically averages 91 mph, it’s essential to throw off hitters’ timing with frequent offspeed pitches.

Unfortunately for Flexen, the Mariners haven’t produced much offensively during his starts on the mound: Seattle has scored 0 runs three times with Flexen on the mound, and only scored one in Flexen’s loss to the Rays last Thursday. That’s some of the worst run support a pitcher can be stuck with, and it’s led to an odd combination of a 1-4 record with a 3.10 ERA for Flexen so far this season.

Flexen, a notoriously fierce competitor, knows there’s nothing he can do to change the fact that his offense hasn’t had his back so far; expect the big man to come out strong in his next against the Rays this Sunday, a team he dominated through six innings in Tampa Bay last week.