It's not a crazy argument to say that the Matt Brash trade is one of the best moves that the Mariners have made since Jerry Dipoto came to the team. He's made some really good moves, but the one for Brash really stands out in large part due to the fact that it was done as a PTBNL deal... and that Brash was that PTBNL from San Diego for Taylor Williams.
There's also the fact that the Mariners got both Andres Munoz and Matt Brash from the Padres in separate deals, but that's a story for another day. Instead, we will look at Matt Brash for the upcoming season, and what can be expected from him to follow up his incredible 2023 season.
Matt Brash is looking to be the first Mariners reliever with back-to-back 100 K seasons
There have only been five Mariners in team history with 100+K seasons, with Brash as the latest entrant on that list. Brash's season is definitely one of the more impressive ones on the list.
Bill Caudill in 1982 - 111 Ks in 95.2 innings
J.J. Putz in 2006 - 104 Ks in 78.1 innings
Edwin Diaz in 2018 - 124 Ks in 73.1 IP
Paul Sewald in 2021 - 104 Ks in 64.2 IP
Matt Brash in 2023 - 107 Ks in 70.2 IP
Sewald and Diaz are probably the most impressive on here, in part to Diaz's total K number and the lesser innings that Sewald did his in. Brash is no slouch though, easily breaking the 100 K barrier despite the lower rate than Sewald had.
I'm actually going to go ahead and predict that Brash won't do it this year, and there are a couple of reasons that I don't think that he is going to make it. The first is innings. I don't think that the Mariners are going to pitch him as much in 2024 as they did in 2023. He might only see 5 or so fewer innings, but with a K rate of 13.6 in 65.2 innings, he would be one strikeout short.
The other reason was his "bad luck" from last year. Brash had incredibly bad luck for the majority of the season, seeing a BABIP of .450 up through the All-Star break. That gave him more chances to strike hitters out, due to previous hitters getting on base when they should've gotten out instead. If he sees better luck, down to somewhere near league average, it could lower his K rate.
Of course, Brash could also take another step on his road to greatness and learn how to pitch more dangerously, taking advantage of that DIRTY arsenal that earned 2 separate pitches on Pitching Ninja's 8 dirtiest pitches of 2023.
I think we do see a better season from Brash than last year, even if that is saying a lot. He's got a full season as a reliever under his belt, is coming off a season that saw a 3.06 ERA and 2.26 FIP with over 100 strikeouts even with a .380 BABIP, 87 points above league average. Less games and innings in 2024, as I can't see him leading the league in appearances again. Probably low 60s for innings, but with a league average BABIP that brings his K rate down.
Still, it's going to look better when you see a 2.41 ERA from Brash with 5-8 saves and 5-8 wins on the year. Matt Brash is set to dominate 2024.