Several of our pitchers spent little time with the team: Robbie Ray, Marco Gonzales, Chris Flexen, Easton McGeen, Penn Murfee, and Emerson Hancock. MLB Pitching can clearly bring on shoulder, elbow, and other arm problems, unfortunately. Last year was a miracle season relatively speaking..
Robbie Ray Earns an A
We can only evaluate Ray’s 2023 performance from Spring Training since his elbow injury became obvious in his first regular season start.
Ray spent the offseason prior to the 2023 losing weight, spending time in the gym, and pitching in Peoria prior to Spring Training. In Spring Training games, he pitched 17 innings and had a 1.06 ERA. He allowed 11 hits, 2 runs, 6 walks, and had 26 strikeouts. His WHIP was 1.00 and his opponents had a 1.43 batting average. His Spring Training numbers were better than those of his 2021 Spring Training with Toronto.
The year he earned the Cy Young Award with the Blue Jays, Ray pitched 193.1 innings, allowing 150 hits, 62 runs, 52 walks, and pitching 248 strikeouts. His ERA was 2.84, WHIP was 1.04, and his opponents had a batting average of .210.
I give Robbie Ray an A. He prepared extremely well for the 2023 season. Ray would have almost surely led the Mariners into the postseason and likely would have been a top candidate for the Cy Young Award again. Only Geritt Cole had a lower WHIP this year than Ray did in 2021.
Marco Gonzales Earns a B
In 2022, Marco Gonzales pitched 183 innings in 32 games for the Mariners. He had 194 hits, 97 runs, 50 walks, and 103 strikeouts. His ERA was 4.13, WHIP was 1.33, and his opponents’ batting average was .271.
He was able to pitch in ten games in 2023, 50 innings. He allowed 32 hits, 29 runs, and 18 walks. He struck out 34 batters. His ERA was 5.22, his WHIP was 1.46, and his opponents’ batting average was .282. He increased the speed of his fastball and his curveball over their speed in the 2022 season.
If Gonzales did not have an injury that put him on the IL-60, I would give him a C because his numbers did not improve and went down. Because I do not know how the injury affected his pitching throughout the season, however, I give him a B.
Chris Flexen Earns a D
Chris Flexen looked strong in Spring Training. Flexen pitched 17 innings and allowed 17 hits, 5 runs, and 5 walks. He struck 13 batters out. He had a 2.31 ERA and 1.29 WHIP. When the Regular Season came, his performance declined. In 42 innings pitched, he had 59 hits, 36 runs, 19 walks, and 29 strikeouts. His ERA rose to 7.71 and his WHIP became 1.86.
The Mariners traded Flexen with Trevor Gott to the Mets who then designated him for assignment. The Rockies picked Flexen up and he pitched for them for the rest of the 2023 season.
Flexen was at his best in 2021 and 2022 with the Mariners with a 3.61 and 3.73 ERA, respectively. With Colorado, Flexen pitched 60.1 innings, allowing 74 hits, 45 runs, and 19 walks, He struck out 45 batters. He ended the season with a 6.27 ERA and a 1.541 WHIP
I award Chris Flexen a D for his performance with the Mariners. His numbers declined significantly from 2022 to 2023. In 2022, His ERA went from 3.73 to 7.71.
Flexen is now with the Colorado Rockies, while Gonzales and Ray could be big contributors to an already strong starting staff.