April 20, 2024

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Matt Brash could face a long absence

Matt Brash could face a long absence

Men preparing sailors Matt Brash And Gregory Santos They were shut down last week due to arm issues, and while there appears to be good news on one, the outlook on the other is bleak. The Seattle Times' Ryan Devish reports Santos played yesterday and is starting to get going, but Brash will likely face an “extended” absence. There is some concern that Brash's entire 2024 season could be in jeopardy, according to Divish.

The absence of even a middling Brash would be a critical blow to the Mariners, who acquired the hard-hitting right-hander in a steal in a trade with the Padres and have since watched him blossom into a potential, potentially elite outfielder. Brash's 3.06 ERA in 70 2/3 innings last season is an impressive mark in itself, but that number doesn't adequately highlight some off-the-charts secondary metrics and an exciting four-month stretch to close out the 2023 season.

Even as Brash posted a pedestrian 4.28 ERA through the first two months of the season, he was striking out an impressive 39.8% of his opponents for a respectable 8.9% walk rate. Fielding-independent metrics like FIP (1.92) and SIERA (2.34) were far more bullish on his work than the more rudimentary ERA.

These numbers have already proven to be a harbinger of a breakout. From Memorial Day weekend through the end of the season, Brash posted an impressive 2.36 ERA. His strikeout rate at the time was 32.4% against a walk rate of 9.7%. Brash averaged 98.2 mph on his heater, generated swinging strikes at a whopping 15.4% clip and generated chases off the plate at a 33.6% clip — all while keeping the ball on the ground at a solid 44.4% clip. He finished the season with four saves and 24 other holds. Skeptics might want to see him maintain that over a full season or two, but this solid stretch had all the characteristics of one of MLB's best relievers.

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Unfortunately, it appears that Brash may not get the chance to prove that he can sustain this breakthrough for quite some time. Neither the team nor the player himself provided any details about the nature of the arm injury he is dealing with. Brash downplayed the issue last week, telling Divish and others that he was simply “shocked,” while general manager Justin Hollander said only that the hope was that Brash would return to the pitching program sooner rather than later. The lack of any real details about the injury seemed alarming at the time.

If the 25-year-old Brush is indeed sidelined for a significant portion — or much worse — of the 2024 campaign, the Mariners' powerhouse lineup will take an undoubted hit. Seattle finished fourth in the Majors with a 3.48 ERA last season and led the major leagues with a 3.64 ERA. Brash played a key role, as the trader has done ever since Justin Tubawhich went to the Twins as part of Jorge Polanco an agreement.

The surprise acquisition of Santos late in the season helped offset Touba's departure, but Brush's big injury will be difficult to overcome. His production throughout the summer and into 2023 is not the type of performance that can be easily replaced.

The Mariners will still have one of the best relievers in the game; Andres MunozClose games. Santos will head the preparation team which also includes Gaby Speer, Trent Thornton And Tyler Saucedo – They all posted solid numbers in 2023 but have the bare minimum of big-time records in the league.

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There is also still at least one notable reliever in free agency (Ren Stanek), and the Mariners have perhaps had more success than any team in MLB at converting unheralded waiver pickups and minor league signees into impact relievers in recent years. Flamethrower Carlos Vargasacquired in Eugenio Suarez Trade, is one armed candidate for such a breakout in Seattle. None of this diminishes the magnitude of Brash's notable injury, and at this point in the offseason, the options for making a move to face such a significant loss are limited.