Matt Brash spent his Monday afternoon walking around T-Mobile Park, meeting players that would now be his teammates, throwing a little off the bullpen mound and trying to adjust to a whirlwind three days.
On Tuesday, in what will be his first official day in the big leagues, the talented pitching prospect is expected to make his MLB debut with the Mariners. He enters final week of the MLB season with his team trying to win all five remaining games on its schedule in hopes of ending the longest active postseason drought in professional sports.
The Mariners selected Brash’s minor-league contract and added him to the active roster. To make room for him, right-hander Matt Andriese was designated for assignment.
“It’s a pretty cool moment,” he said pregame. “I’m still taking it all in, but I’m just excited to be here and I’m gonna help the team out in any way I can. I’ve got some family coming in and some childhood friends coming so I’m pretty excited to hopefully play in front of them.”
Following another dismal outing from Yusei Kikuchi on Thursday, the Mariners began discussing possible options for a replacement for his next start. When the team announced it had promoted Brash from Class AA Arkansas to Class AAA Tacoma on Friday, it became clear that they were making an alternative plan instead of starting Kikuchi.
The expectation was that Seattle would give Brash that start, particularly when he was seen on the field on Tuesday. But when Tyler Anderson made it just two innings in a brutal start vs. the Angels on Saturday, throwing just 54 pitches, the Mariners were presented with a different alternative plan.
“Tyler’s last time out was shorter and he got roughed up a little bit,” manager Scott Servais said after Tuesday’s 13-4 win. “Tomorrow would be his typical bullpen day so he’ll start the game. Of course, he will not go 100 pitches. We will be very cautious with him. But that’s where we’ll head tomorrow and then we’ll piece it together after that.”
Brash is available to pitch multiple innings of relief, which the Mariners felt might be an easier debut instead of starting him against a veteran A’s lineup with so much on the line.
Admittedly, Brash wasn’t on Servais radar during spring training. But he read the reports and saw some video throughout the season.
“Did I think he would be here at this point,” Servais said. “I have to be honest. No, I didn’t. But there were a lot of firsts for us this year. And the fact that we’re in this position at this point in the season, you want to give our team every opportunity, put the best talent out there that gives us the chance. He’s got talent. He’s handled everything that’s been thrown at him so far.”
Using a fastball that can touch 100 mph and a nasty wipeout slider, Brash has dominated opposing hitters at the High-A and Double-A level.
He was recently added into Baseball America’s Top 100 prospects at No. 99. He appeared in 10 games for High-A Everett, posting a 3-2 record with a save and a 2.55 earned-run average.
He was promoted to Arkansas in mid-July. In 10 starts with the Travelers, he had a 3-2 record with a 2.13 ERA with 80 strikeouts and 23 walks in 55 innings. Opponents had a .162/.249/.237 slash line against him.
Kikuchi was informed about the decision after batting practice.
“I really appreciate how Yusei he handled things,” Servais said. “He was very professional. He understands where the team is at, understands that he has not performed recently like he did in the first half. He still wants to contribute any way he can. He’ll be in the bullpen. If we need to use him out of the bullpen, we will. He was an absolute pro. I can’t say enough about how he handled it. He wasn’t particularly happy, but who would be?”
In his past 14 starts, Kikuchi has posted a 1-6 record with a 6.22 ERA. In 63 2/3 innings, he’s allowed a whopping 80 hits, including 12 homers with 70 strikeouts and 31 walks. Opponents had a .304/.385/.532 slash line against him over that time. Three of his past four outings have lasted three innings or fewer.
Andy McKay, the Mariners director of player development, announced the organization’s minor-league awards for the 2021 season:
Ken Griffey Jr. Minor League Hitter of the Year: Cade Marlowe, OF
Marlowe, 24, posted a .272/.365/.563 slash line with 87 runs scored, 24 doubles, 10 triples, 26 home runs, 106 RBI, 60 walks and 23 stolen bases in 105 games combined between Class A Modesto (62 games) and High-A Everett (105). He was the only player in minor-league baseball with more than 100 runs batted in.
Jamie Moyer Minor League Pitcher of the Year: Matt Brash, RHP
Brash, 23, went 6-4 with a save and a 2.31 ERA in 19 starts and one relief appearance combined between High-A Everett and Class AA Arkansas. He limited opponents to a .180 (63 for 150) batting average, while walking 48 and striking out 142. He allowed three runs or fewer in all 20 of his appearances, including 10 appearances allowing one run or fewer.
Alvin Davis “Mr. Mariner” Award: Julio Rodriguez, OF
The Mariners’ top prospect and the consensus No. 2 prospect in all of baseball was named the winner of the prestigious award for his exemplary play and leadership skills both on and off the field this season. He split the season between High-A Everett (28 games) and AA Arkansas (46 games), posting a combined. .347/.441/.560 slash line with 19 doubles, 2 triples, 13 home runs, 47 RBI, 6 hit by pitches, 43 walks and 21 stolen bases. Rodriguez was the starting right fielder on the Dominican Republic team that won the bronze medal at the 2020 Toyko Olympics this summer.
Dan Wilson Minor League Community Service Award: Isaiah Campbell, RHP
Campbell, 24, was honored for his individual effort in the Everett community over the course of the season while also participating in book reading during Summer Camp last year in Tacoma.
“Isaiah was instrumental in our virtual book reading program this year with the Tacoma School District,” Wilson said in a news release. “His passion for the program was evident and everyone involved benefited from his involvement. Whether it is on the field or off of the field, Isaiah continues to lead the way with setting a standard for what it means to be a Mariner.”
Edgar Martinez Dominate the Zone Hitter Award: Jack Larsen, OF
Larsen, 25, received the “for being recognized as the hitter in the Mariners organization that best embodied the ‘Control the Zone’ philosophy, instilling a team approach at the plate instead of an individual approach.” He hit .295 (121 for 410) with 80 runs scored, 31 doubles, 3 triples, 19 home runs, 84 RBI, 5 HBP, 73 walks and 13 stolen bases in 109 games combined between Everett and Arkansas.
Dominate the Zone Pitcher Award: David Ellingson, RHP
Ellingson, 26, was “recognized as the pitcher in the Mariners organization that best embodied the Control the Zone philosophy.” He split the season between High-A Everett and Arkansas going 3-0 with a save and a 4.15 ERA (22 ER, 47.2 IP) in a career-high 36 relief appearances.
Dave Henderson Minor League Staff Member of the Year Award: Louis Boyd, manager Everett AquaSox
In his third season in the Mariners organization and his first full season as the manager for the Mariners High-A affiliate, Boyd handled some of the organization’s top prospect with the AquaSox.
“On a daily basis, Louis led our staff and players through a remarkable season,” McKay said. “He kept his team in the playoff race until the final days of the season while promoting 14 of our players to our AA affiliate in Arkansas.”