Mariners SP Logan Gilbert threw a career-high six innings against Oakland on Monday. (Getty)
After a long stretch where seemingly nothing was going right, the Mariners are now one of the hottest teams in baseball, winning seven of their last 10 including a five-game win stream entering Tuesday.
The team’s most recent win was an exciting 6-5 walkoff against the Oakland Athletics that saw a career day from one of Seattle’s top young players.
As he does every Tuesday, Mariners manager Scott Servais joined 710 ESPN Seattle’s Jake and Stacy as well as Mariners insider Shannon Drayer for the latest Scott Servais Show, where he talked about his team’s hot play as well as some notable updates to his roster.
Logan Gilbert’s best start
It took until his fourth MLB start for Logan Gilbert to get past the fourth inning, but he turned in a great outing against the A’s on Monday.
Not only did Gilbert go a career-high six innings, but he allowed just two runs on five hits and a walk while tying his season-best in strikeouts with five. He also was far better and more consistent with his secondary offerings than he’s been at any point since his call-up.
Locked in Logan. 🔒 pic.twitter.com/6aQyo9RIGb
— Seattle Mariners (@Mariners) June 1, 2021
Servais thought Gilbert really got better as the game progressed on Monday.
“I thought Logan was outstanding yesterday and it really stood for me the last couple innings that he was out there,” Servais said. “He had the rough inning early in the ballgame and was able to work through it. But I thought the last couple innings (he had) a ton of confidence, was totally in control.”
Something that stood out with Gilbert was how strong he finished the outing. In his final frame, Gilbert needed just seven pitches to record a 1-2-3 inning, tallying another strikeout along the way.
“He does appear to be one of those guys where he probably knew the sixth inning was going to be his last inning yesterday, so he sees the finish line and he gets after it,” Servais said. “He’s not trying to hope his way through it. He puts the pedal down and really hammers on it knowing, ‘I’m going to give my team six innings of strong pitching,’ and that’s what he did yesterday.”
So Servais’ overall assessment of Gilbert’s fourth career start? Pretty darn good.
“It was a huge step forward for him and he’s a guy I’m really excited to see as the season moves along,” he said. “He’s going to continue to learn and just get better every time out there.”
Kelenic making an impact despite what the numbers say
Top Mariners prospect played in his 18th MLB game on Monday, and it’s safe to say that the start of his big league career hasn’t gone how he or the team envisioned it – at least when it comes to his performance at the plate.
Entering Tuesday, Kelenic is slashing .118/.211/.235 with two home runs, six RBIs, 17 strikeouts and seven walks in 76 plate appearances.
On Monday, Kelenic went 0 for 3 with three strikeouts, but he also worked two walks and scored a run.
When discussing Kelenic’s performance in Monday’s game, Servais said he thought Kelenic put together quality at-bats throughout the game, as evidenced by the two walks. He also said that in Kelenic’s final at-bat in the ninth inning, he put up a good fight and that it took a nearly perfect pitch to strike him out.
“It happens,” Servais said.
Despite the rocky start at the plate for the player many believe will be the face of the Mariners sooner rather than later, Servais is all-in on Kelenic’s play going forward, mainly because of what he brings to the table when he’s not in the batter’s box.
“Jarred, he brings so much to the ballgame,” Servais said. “I think everyone gets caught up in what he’s doing in the batter’s box or what the batting average looks like. But if you watched yesterday’s game he made a really good play in left field on a ball over his head to record an out there, he stole a base, he was on the move for a second stolen base when (Kyle) Lewis hit a double and he scored on that ball easily, which is not easy to do. This kid can really move on the bases. It’s more than a bat and that’s what we’re starting to see play out.”
While some may be clamoring for Kelenic to maybe get some more time off or even be demoted to the minors to get things right at the plate, Kelenic will actually be taking on a larger role for the Mariners beginnning Tuesday. Starting center fielder Kyle Lewis suffered what Servais called a “very small meniscus tear” in his right knee while leaping for a ball in the outfield on Monday. Lewis was removed from the game shortly after and on Tuesday, the Mariners placed the 2020 American League Rookie of the Year on the 10-day injured list. Servais said it’s unclear at this point how long Lewis will be out and whether he needs surgery.
With Lewis out for the foreseeable future, Kelenic will slide over from left field to center field, while fellow rookie outfielder Taylor Trammell has been recalled from Triple-A. Trammell and Jake Fraley, who just came off the IL, are options to play in left field.
Servais is excited to see Kelenic in this new everyday role.
“Understand that Kyle Lewis is going to be out for a while and Jarred Kelenic is going to play center field for us and he’s going to do a great job out there,” he said. “He can really play defense. There’s a lot of things going on in his game and the bat is going to come. There’s no question in my mind.”
Servais made it clear that young players struggle early in their careers more often than they start off hot, and he thinks Kelenic will “get it going” here very soon.
“I’ve got a ton of confidence in him, we really believe in him and he will be playing center field tonight,” Servais said.
The Mariners are trying something different Tuesday with Kelenic in the lineup, however. He will hit sixth for the first time, moving down from the leadoff spot he has occupied so far since joining the M’s.
Ty France back and swinging it
At the start of the year, the Mariners were carried offensively by three players – Mitch Haniger, Kyle Seager and Ty France.
Haniger is still the Mariners’ best and most consistent hitter and Seager has been solid in 2021, but France started hot before getting hit on the wrist by a pitch, going cold for a few weeks and eventually landing on the injured list. Now, France is back and healthy and is slashing .345/.387/.414 with six RBIs in eight games since returning.
TY IT UP 🇫🇷 pic.twitter.com/q2fsBVqbnZ
— Seattle Mariners (@Mariners) May 31, 2021
“Ty can really swing the bat,” Servais said. “He went into a little bit of a funk before he went down and part of it was driven by the injury.”
France was hit in the forearm earlier this year and Servais said some of the swelling went into his hand and “created some other issues” for the infielder.
“It was forcing him to maybe do some things in the batter’s box that he typically doesn’t do and swing at some pitches he doesn’t swing at and obviously he wasn’t getting the results he wanted,” Servais said.
Servais commended France for trying to play through the injury, but ultimately France was out for just the required 10 days and has been on fire since coming back.
“He’s back and feels completely healthy and I think he’s done a nice job (defensively) at first base filling in over there as well,” he said. “It’s great to have him in our lineup. We certainly need him. He’s clutch, he has the ability to drive in runs and we need those guys.”
Listen to the full Scott Servais Show at this link or in the player below.