Marco Gonzales will begin on Opening Day for the Mariners once more in 2020. (Getty)
With intrasquad video games starting this weekend right here’s a fast take a look at the Mariners six beginning pitchers, a refresher on the place they have been in spring coaching, what they did within the shutdown and what we’ve seen and heard about them since Summer time Camp started.
LHP Marco Gonzales
Gonzales got here into the camp in Peoria prepared to move up the five-man rotation and make his second Opening Day – third when you depend the house opener in opposition to Boston after the Japan Collection – begin. Coming off his first 200-inning season and newly signed four-year, $30 million contract, Gonzales seems to be to proceed and construct of the consistency that helped earn that contract and has grow to be the title of his recreation.
In spring coaching, Gonzales elected to forgo his first Cactus League recreation alternative and as a substitute throw an additional bullpen with hitters standing in so he might additional consider pitch execution. He made two Cactus League begins and threw in an intrasquad recreation, giving up 5 runs in his first outing in opposition to the Cubs then throwing 6 scoreless innings over his subsequent 2 begins.
He spent the coronavirus shutdown in Seattle, the place he and his spouse stepped ahead and assisted the neighborhood selling the Mariners and Bloodworks blood drive at T-Cellular Park, filming PSA’s and launching the Gonzales Household Peanut Butter Drive to assist struggling households in Washington.
A couple of weeks in the past, Monica and I began a meals drive to assist children and households battling meals insecurity throughout the state of Washington. We want to take a second to announce some excellent news & thanks all in your assist. pic.twitter.com/d9v7zC4KZu
— Marco Gonzales (@MarcoGonzales_) June 6, 2020
Along with his good work off the sector, Gonzales served because the Mariners’ participant consultant within the labor negotiations to restart the season. Requested concerning the expertise early in Summer time Camp, Gonzales mentioned he wouldn’t be speaking with the media concerning the course of that resulted in MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred imposing a season, which seems to be in step with what we’ve seen with different participant reps since Summer time Camp started.
On the baseball aspect of issues, Gonzales was capable of work out in his house health club along with his spouse, who’s a health coach, and throw on a close-by turf subject first along with his brother Alex, a catcher at MSU Denver, who stayed with Marco and his spouse Monica early on within the shutdown, and later with Austin Nola, who additionally stayed in Seattle. He was capable of throw two bullpens every week, considered one of which was with a hitter stepping in.
In his first week in Summer time Camp, Gonzales’ focus has been getting reacquainted with the filth mound and getting his ft beneath him and starting to positive tune his pitches.
Because the group progresses to intrasquad video games, he’ll attempt to see these on the opposite aspect in numerous jerseys.
“It’s robust with out recreation motion to construct up the aggressive aspect,” he mentioned.
For Gonzales, maybe greater than some other starter, it shouldn’t be onerous to trick himself into making these begins matter. He’s identified for the way fiery he can get on the mound and the way he pushes himself.
“I’m a competitor,” he mentioned when requested why he needed to get again out on the sector. “On daily basis I spend time whether or not figuring out or throwing, making the sacrifices to place my physique on the road to exit and do the issues I like to do. For lots of people who supported me and made sacrifices as properly for me. It’s simply in my nature to wish to compete. I simply needed to exit and compete, I really feel that’s my job.”
LHP Yusei Kikuchi
Kikuchi seems to haven’t missed a beat which, if you understand something about him, shouldn’t be a shock. No pitcher on the Mariners workers throws greater than he does and that didn’t cease when baseball stopped.
“He seemed similar to he did when he left spring coaching,” mentioned Mariners supervisor Scott Servais final week. “He’s in all probability a bit of additional forward. The amount of throwing he does might be a bit of bit greater than different guys.”
Kikuchi had a number of good to construct off of. After a disappointing first MLB season, he spent his offseason remodeling his supply, doing a few of his work at Driveline Baseball in Kent. In Arizona, we noticed elevated velocity on all of his pitches, most notably quite a lot of 96 mph on the fastball. The slider was more durable as properly and he had labored on throwing two totally different curveballs. Numerous change and it seemed promising in his 4 spring begins, the place he gave up a complete of three runs whereas strolling 5 and placing out 10.
Kikuchi spent the shutdown in Scottsdale, Az., the place he was capable of preserve his throwing program which included throwing three bullpens every week to interpreter Kevin Ando and teammate Yoshihisa Hirano. After his first stay BP session, Kikuchi mentioned that the work he put in in the course of the shutdown solidified the adjustments he had made within the offseason. The brand new supply now feels pure. He was happy with the rate he confirmed, noting that he threw a few 95’s, however believes we’ll see extra as camp progresses.
For Servais, one thing else stood out within the stay BP. Kikuchi tried at occasions to throw a changeup final yr nevertheless it wasn’t very efficient. He has reworked that pitch and the few that he threw to Tom Murphy opened some eyes.
“They have been superior,” mentioned Servais. “This one is totally different. It has good motion to it. It’s popping out like his fastball. The most important change is within the grip and what he’s making an attempt to get the motion of the pitch to do.”
Usually we see pitchers experiment with new pitches in spring coaching after which we by no means see the pitches once more, with Kikuchi I believe it is going to be a distinct story. From what we noticed in Arizona, he has an opportunity to look very totally different on the mound in 2020.
LHP Justus Sheffield
After a disastrous begin at Tacoma in what was anticipated to be a tuneup earlier than being referred to as as much as the Mariners necessitated an surprising journey to Double-A, Sheffield rebounded properly and managed to get some necessary developmental innings within the majors final yr. His feelings on the hill now beneath management he seems prepared for what must be a present me season. It’s time for him to sink or swim on the main league degree.
Sheffield made some adjustments in Arizona most notably including the 2-seam fastball, a pitch he labored on in bullpens and introduced into his closing Cactus League begin, committing fully to it and scrapping the 4-seamer. Each he and Tom Murphy have been extraordinarily excited concerning the effectiveness of the pitch. Whereas he received’t fully shelve the 4-seamer, he does intend to make the most of the 2-seam fastball extra.
Sheffield spent the shutdown at house in Tennessee along with his brother, who pitches within the Dodgers group. Again house, he was capable of get right into a baseball facility and face hitters and throw to his highschool catcher. He additionally says digital conferences along with his rotation mates and pitching coach Pete Woodworth stored the group speaking about pitching and sequencing in conserving him sharp.
“My final BP, I felt like I picked up proper the place I left off,” Sheffield mentioned.
Now in summer time camp, he intends to proceed with the 2-seamer and focus a bit of extra on what historically has been his fourth pitch, the change up.
“I really feel like that’s going to be the decider pitch for my season proper now,” he mentioned. “It’s wanting actually good. I’m persevering with to throw it in my throwing program having the catcher get down so I can get totally prolonged and see the motion on it.”
Sheffield threw 2 scoreless innings within the intrasquad recreation Friday.
RHP Justin Dunn
Dunn got here to camp realizing all 5 spots within the rotation appeared to have been crammed, however conceding nothing. He had an fascinating cup of espresso in September, which began out with the previous first rounder strolling the primary 5 batters he confronted and failing to get out of the primary inning. Normally one of many extra assured younger gamers you’re going to run into, it appeared that the feelings, nerves and adrenaline snuck up on him in his first go round. Restricted to simply 2-inning begins, he walked three extra in his second outing then appeared to quiet down. He confirmed a great fastball-slider combo and completed robust with three strikeouts in opposition to the A’s on Sept. 29.
In spring coaching, Dunn seemed prepared from the get go. Having labored out with famous coach Eric Cressey, who now leads the Yankees excessive efficiency division since he was a freshman in faculty, Dunn has at all times had a robust routine. He confirmed good velocity early in camp and completed robust following Taijuan Walker in opposition to the Brewers in Maryvale, placing out 5 in Three innings pitched.
Dunn stayed in Arizona in the course of the shutdown, residing with Jake Fraley and his household. Ultimately they, together with others within the space, have been capable of work out at a neighborhood batting cage earlier than it opened. Dunn was capable of throw bullpens there as quarantine went on and acquired to the spring coaching facility as quickly because it opened. As soon as there, he threw stay BPs to Fraley and Evan White. When he arrived in camp, Servais pointed to Dunn together with Kikuchi as the 2 pitchers who seemed to be a bit forward of the others.
“I really feel like I haven’t actually regressed in any approach since spring coaching, which I’m actually joyful about,” Dunn mentioned earlier this week. “I understand it’s nothing that’s simply going to be handed to me. I must go in and put the work in doing all the pieces day in time out that I can do to present the perfect audition doable.”
What will likely be key for Dunn is the changeup, a pitch he must proceed to develop.
“It’s one thing that’s going to be actually necessary for his improvement as he tries to get established in our rotation,” mentioned Servais. “To get by way of a lineup thrice, you want that third pitch.”
Whereas he gave up house runs to J.P. Crawford and Kyle Lewis on fastballs within the first inning, Dunn threw quite a lot of changeups in his second inning, just a few of which he mentioned seemed good.
RHP Taijuan Walker
The Mariners have been cautious with Walker coming off Tommy John surgical procedure in spring coaching, holding him out of video games till March 9 the place he threw Three innings in opposition to Milwaukee exhibiting 96 mph within the first inning. Whereas he gave up 4 hits and a solo shot early going through many of the Brewers regulars, he was in any other case in control of what was a really encouraging first outing.
Walker spent the shutdown at house in Arizona along with his spouse and 3-year-old son. He discovered it tough to know when to begin ramping up with the backwards and forwards that went on as baseball tried to return to play. He stored his arm prepared, throwing in his again yard then on the Peoria facility when it opened. Now in Summer time Camp, he feels that he was capable of obtain the steadiness he wanted whereas at house.
“I really feel good, my arm feels good,” he mentioned. “I like the place I’m at. The velo the primary time going through hitters was 90-93.”
Walker was intrigued by what he noticed from his curveball in Arizona and after getting good suggestions on the pitch from hitters who confronted him in stay BP this week will look to see if it could grow to be extra of a weapon for him.
“I didn’t suppose it was going to be a swing and miss pitch,” he mentioned. “Coming into camp (Arizona), to me it was going to be a strike pitch however even the swings I used to be getting on it, it gave me a number of confidence.”
This is a vital season for Walker, who seems to be to re-establish himself earlier than free company. He understands that attending to make 10 or 11 begins will rely on far more than how he pitches.
“My state of affairs is totally different,” he identified. “I pitched 1 inning within the final two-and-a-half years, so I’m doing all the pieces I can so we will play baseball. I’m doing my half.”
RHP Kendall Graveman
Like Walker, Graveman has been ready for 2 years to set foot again on a significant league mound after Tommy John surgical procedure sidelined him in June 2018. The Mariners gave him that chance, signing the previous A’s Opening Day starter to a one-year, $1.5 million contract with a $3.5 million choice for 2021 final November.
Graveman reported to Peoria able to pitch and had a traditional buildup till a bout with the flu set him again a bit. He was capable of make two begins earlier than the shutdown, exhibiting shocking velocity in opposition to the Cubs in Mesa, hitting 96 on the radar gun a number of occasions. The arm appeared wholesome, which was good, however the velocity was not a giant deal as Graveman mentioned he’s at all times had it however for him it’s best to again off and go for the situation and sink.
“I feel the primary inning it was popping out actually agency,” he mentioned with amusing. “The velo was up a tick. I used to be excited to get again on the market. I felt actually good. That’s a great signal, it’s a blessing. I used to be conscious as soon as Woody (Woodworth) instructed me, ‘Hey, let’s command the baseball.’ I throw by way of the motion typically when the rate is up, which isn’t an important factor for me, so I’m actually specializing in that.”
Whereas he was capable of return to Cactus League video games, Graveman misplaced a great quantity of weight when he had the flu and the shutdown gave him the chance to regain some energy. He spent the down time at house in Alabama, the place he was capable of exercise along with his coach who transformed his indifferent storage right into a health club when amenities weren’t allowed to open.
Now in camp, Graveman seems to be to select up the place he left off in March and the early returns on his live BP were good.
“Kendall was actually good,” mentioned Mariners first baseman Daniel Vogelbach, who confronted him in the course of the BP session. “He makes the ball transfer each methods. He’s aggressive. He pitches with an angle. He was spectacular right now. I’m wanting ahead to watching him go to work each fifth or sixth day.”