Bryan Woo Is The Talk Of The Mariners

Six games is both a small sample size as well as an extended period of time when you place them all together in a sequence. What does this 6-game stretch tell us about Bryan Woo, who has a 1.07 ERA, good for the lowest in Mariners history to start a season?

On the one hand, yeah, it’s only six games; he could fall apart at any time, he could get hurt, or he could revert to what he was last year, which was a fine pitcher who was sometimes wild and sometimes hit around. On the other hand, what an achievement! As someone who’s had numerous arm issues throughout his brief career, who is still very young, it’s incredible what we’re getting from our #5 starter!

It really is fascinating what he’s been able to do. The Mariners are clearly limiting his pitch counts – he just threw over 80 pitches for the first time yesterday – but he’s been able to get through 6 innings in four consecutive games (it might’ve been five, if he hadn’t gotten into a bit of trouble), after the slow ramp up with a shortened first start. He’s given up 4 runs in 33.2 innings, with four quality starts already.

It’s also interesting because from the sound of things, he’s still just pumping in those heaters, switching between the 4-seam and 2-seam fastballs. I wouldn’t say Woo is even remotely a finished product yet, but it’s odd to see a starter so effective without a viable off-speed/”out” pitch.

How long can this last? Well, part of the reason he’s so effective is his arm slot. But, that’s also the biggest reason why he’s so injury prone. You have to wonder if he’ll be a long-term option for this team without a change in his mechanics. Are we ALWAYS going to have to limit his innings/pitch counts? Is this just the new wave of starter, who can’t really throw over 80 pitches very often, so he’ll have to be hyper-efficient whenever he’s out there?

It’s wild to me how good this rotation is from top to bottom. It’s even crazier knowing we still have Emerson Hancock down in Tacoma, who through four games in AAA has a 2.74 ERA, with 23.0 innings pitched and 21 strikeouts after being sent down. We’re so flush with starting pitching, that there’s some hot-shot starter down in the low minors who we’re converting to a reliever so he can possibly get a premature call-up in the second half of this season! Logan Evans was just drafted by the Mariners in 2023, and he’s already in AA carving guys up! Granted, he was in college for four years, so it’s not like he’s some infant. Nevertheless, it’s exciting to see.

In other news, the Mariners just wrapped up a series win down in Oakland, where we scored all of 8 runs in 3 games. I’m guessing all that talk about the Mariners being fixed after they fired Brant Brown was a little hyperbolic. Not for nothing, but I’m not expecting a whole lot more over in Kansas City this weekend.

The Mariners Fired Brant Brown & The Offense Immediately Took Off Against The Worst Team In Baseball

Weird.

I’m not saying Brant Brown was or wasn’t the problem here. I guess I just don’t like … anything about this story.

For starters, I don’t like that the Mariners hired him in the first place to be in this made-up role of “offensive coordinator”. Alongside a “Hitting Coach & Director Of Hitting Strategy” and an assistant hitting coach, it seemed from the beginning like a Too Many Cooks situation.

(not THAT Too Many Cooks)

Also, firing Brown smacks of being a total scapegoat move, which leads me to wonder: was he hired in the first place just to BE that scapegoat? Was that his role in this organization all along? Because they knew the offense would be inept and wanted their escape hatch prepared in advance to save everyone else’s jobs?

I mean, that’s not likely, but people are talking about it, so it can’t be nothing! Granted, “people” here are me, but I feel like that number is growing.

I think the final straw for me, though, is the fact that he got fired, while the other two guys see their roles expanded. What makes them worth keeping around and Brown worth firing? Tommy Joseph – the aforementioned assistant hitting coach – is also a new hire from this past offseason. He’s pretty green at this whole coaching thing, with his track record being a coach at the A-ball level last year for the Giants. Prior to that, he was in A-ball and AA with the Mets.

As for Jarrett DeHart – the pompously-titled Hitting Coach & Director of Hitting Strategy – he’s been with the Mariners’ organization since 2018, coaching hitters at the Major League level since 2020. In other words, he’s been here during – I’ll say it – one of the most offensively-challenged periods in team history.

What has HE done to earn such job security?

Presumably, the same thing Dipoto & Co. have done, since they can apparently do no wrong.

I was waiting for a bunch of juicy tidbits about why Brown was fired, but the most I’ve heard so far is that hitters weren’t connecting with his reports. That they were apparently TOO detailed; players were given TOO MUCH information. So … we have a team full of dummies, got it.

All I know is, we have DeHart – a guy who hasn’t ever been able to get this offense going the way it should – and some rookie coach in Joseph, who are still here. Meanwhile, we have Brown – a guy with an ACTUAL track record of success at this level with the Dodgers for 5 years and the Marlins last year – who gets the boot.

The most curious part of this is the timing of it all. On the one hand, it makes sense; we just won 3 of 4 against the Astros, while scoring all of 8 runs in regulation of those four games. Which, granted, was coming off of two full months of mostly down hitting. BUT, the move also happened right before we were to play the Angels over the weekend, maybe the worst team in baseball.

Of COURSE the Mariners would sweep the Angels, scoring 19 runs in 3 games!

So, what does that mean? Was a cloud lifted from this team? Perhaps. Was it a total coincidence? Probably. Would we have done this anyway, and possibly have saved a man’s job in the process? I would think so. And, I would think the team saw this weekend coming, and decided to get rid of him anyway.

Which ultimately leads me to believe there was more conflict here than was originally indicated upon word getting out of his firing.

In the grand scheme of things, I don’t care about any of this. I don’t even like writing about hitting coaches, because they ARE the ultimate scapegoat. They never seem to stick around long, and they’re totally dependant upon the players (who are a byproduct of the organizational moves they have no control over). I only care about the Mariners hitting better, scoring more runs, and winning more games. This pitching staff is TOO good to have to suffer this kind of incompetence. As we saw over the last seven games in this homestand – where the M’s went 6-1 against divisional rivals – there’s a ton of potential here, just waiting to be unleashed.

We’re 34-27, first place in the A.L. West by 4 games over Texas. Everyone else is still under .500 (for now). And, today, we’re FINALLY blessed with an off-day after however many days in a row. Unfortunately, we have ANOTHER 13 games in a row, starting with 3 down in Oakland, followed by 3 more in Kansas City. Nevertheless, it’s a pretty reasonable stretch in the short term, with 4 more at home against the lowly White Sox after that, before another showdown with the Rangers.

This next 2-week stretch could REALLY separate us from the pack. Or, we could continue to spin our wheels. I’ll be curious to see how the offense responds – particularly in Kansas City, where the pitching is good. Can we use this as an inflection point, jumping off to bigger and better things? Or, will we see more of the same mess of strikeouts and low-scoring output?

I think I know the answer, but I’m willing to be pleasantly surprised.