Why Matt Brash is instrumental in M's playoff push

25-year-old reliever has authored a breakout season, but there is more for the taking, as the M's enter a crucial ten game stretch.
Oakland Athletics v Seattle Mariners
Oakland Athletics v Seattle Mariners / Alika Jenner/GettyImages

Matt Brash was toiling in the San Diego Padres farm system three years ago, struggling with controlling the zone but flashing elite stuff. At that time, Jerry Dipoto, the General Manager of the Seattle Mariners, saw something in the Canadian flamethrower, and he pounced at the opportunity to acquire him. The price was Trevor Williams, a reliever who was regaining his form for the Tacoma Rainiers. The exciting twist is that Williams is in the Mariners' organization three years later, and so is Brash.

Brash has taken an interesting road to Seattle. He came up as a starter and even debuted in the Mariner rotation last season. However, he struggled with control, averaging more than five free passes per start. Dipoto promptly pulled the plug on starting and transitioned Brash to a high-leverage reliever role, and he never looked back.

It’s been a breakout year for the 25-year-old reliever. Brash has racked up 102 strikeouts in 65 1/3 innings. His Baseball Savant page is littered with red sliders. For newbies in the analytical space, red is good. He is in the 80% percentile or above in nine of the sixteen possible categories.

MLB Insiders are singing Brash’s praises this season, as he’s racked up 102 strikeouts in 65 1/3 innings. Tim Kurkjian joined Seattle Sports' morning show, Brock and Salk, this week and specifically mentioned Brash.

"Remember, he was their ‘rescue’ guy last year. The starting pitcher has trouble early, they bring Matt Brash in. That’s how they won that second game against Toronto last year,” Kurkjian said. “When Robbie Ray struggled, they brought Brash in, he held the fort and then they caught up and won that amazing second game. So yes, he’s had a tremendous season, and they’ve just got to keep him as fresh as possible because if they make it to the playoffs, they’re going to need him at his very best in October."

Tim Kurkjian on Matt Brash

Manager Scott Servais knows playoff baseball is managed differently. Starters have shorter leashes, and quality relievers are at a premium. He has a real weapon in Brash, that he doesn't offer platoon splits like most of his relief-mates. Righties are hitting .261 against Brash, but that is elevated due to an extremely high BABIP (.378), while lefties are hitting a minuscule .216 with a .245 BABIP. Another number to hang your hat on is Brash's ability to strand runners, which is elite this season (77.2%).

Servais and pitching coach, Pete Woodward have used him extensively this season (65 1/3 innings). Especially since the Paul Sewald trade and Andres Munoz' rough four game span in early September.

This ten-game gauntlet includes big bats in Corey Seager, Marcus Siemen, Adolis Garcia, Kyle Tucker, and Yordan Alvarez. These final days of the 2023 regular season will be high drama and provide an opportunity for the Mariners' apparent strength, pitching, to lead them to a second consecutive playoff appearance.

Chances Brash, the team’s most dependable reliever, will bring his elite stuff into the team’s push for the AL West crown. From a struggling starter to a top-five reliever in Major League Baseball per Jeff Passan, Brash has had quite the transformation. It's just another fantastic storyline in a remarkable season for a young reliever who's instrumental to the Mariners' playoff aspirations.