Matt Brash: Mariners reliever has been a victim of being unlucky
By Brandon Willman
Matt Brash entered 2023 with expectations to take a step forward and become a bigger part of the Mariners bullpen. While his production in 2022 was not elite, he had several memorable moments, especially throughout their playoff run.
However, despite his projected jump in production, he has seemingly taken a step back. Even with decreasing his walk rate and increasing his strikeout rate, Brash has been incredibly unlucky with his results in 2023.
Matt Brash has been incredibly unlucky
Through 22 appearances in the new season, he has a 5.00 ERA over 18.0 innings , giving up 21 hits, 10 earned runs, one home run, while walking eight batters and striking out 34.
His walk rate is down from 5.9 to 4.0, strikeout rate is up from 11.0 to 17.0, but still his ERA has only gotten worse. Despite his surface level 5.00 ERA, but his 2.08 FIP shows that he has gotten incredibly unlucky in his small 2023 sample eize.
Brash’s 2.93 difference between ERA and FIP is the 20th highest in MLB and 7th highest among pitchers with at least 18.0 innings. His 4.25 strikeouts per walk is also the 54th highest rate in MLB amongst players with 18.0, another sign that his luck seems to be completely gone.
“Pure stuff” is the selling point of Brash, as he has a nasty fastball-slider combination which when it is working is one of the best in baseball. That is evident by his strengths, a 98th percentile strikeout rate, 95th percentile barrel rate, 97th percentile whiff rate, 96th percentile fastball velocity and 95th percentile curve spinrate.
When comparing his rookie year to this, he is seemingly avoiding barrels at a barrel rate, having just a 2.5% barrel rate compared to 4.8% in 2022. He also has lowered his expected ERA from 4.53 to 3.64.
Brash has been able to increase whiff rate on all three of his pitches, the only thing has changed is his increased use of his slider the batting average on his fastball being an unheard-of .450, although his expected batting average is a more understandable .320.
Having one of the best sliders in the entire sport and the signs of his expected stats comparing to his actual stats show that Brash is a victim of the unfortunate lack of luck combined with a relatively small sample size.
There should be no reason to worry about his production and theoretically over the course of the rest of the season, Brash’s ERA should settle at around the 3.50 mark and he will be able to pitch vital innings in the 2023 Mariners playoff push.