The Mariners came into this weekend armed with their three hottest starters: Bryce Miller, Logan Gilbert, and George Kirby. The hope was for the team to win the series, at least. The result? Two wasted quality starts from both Miller and Kirby and an offensive explosion to support the lone win from Gilbert. The team is playing a brand of baseball where you must look for the silver linings, and there was a shiny one to take note of on Saturday.
Gilbert had been using his new splitter less than 10% of the time, flashing it now and then against a tough lefty. Well, things changed after Atlanta first baseman Matt Olson hammered Gilbert's first offering over the left centerfield wall, staking the Braves to a 2-0 lead. The 26-year-old starter would throw 23 splitters over his 6+ innings of work, amounting to 26% of his pitch load. He'd end up inducing eight whiffs on the pitch as well.
It's refreshing to see the Mariner battery of Gilbert and Tom Murphy change their game plan on the fly. But they had to because the Braves came out hunting the fastball. Another fact was the Braves lineup, as it included six lefthanded bats. So Gilbert when to the splitter because it has a changeup action, tumbling away from the batter.
The scouting report on Gilbert has constantly been teams forcing him to throw the fastball by not expanding the zone against his secondary pitches (Curve, Slider). However, it could be a game-changer if he can command the splitter, especially when some of the most significant bats in the AL West swing it from the left side—quite the silver lining in an otherwise dismal weekend.