Logan Gilbert and Jackson Kowar were both selected in the top 35 picks in the 2018 MLB Draft. Gilbert was ranked 14th overall by the Mariners, although it could be argued that Kowar took 33rd (a pick of compensation for Lorenzo Cain) actually had more name recognition, having been teammates in Florida with Brady Singer, the Royals’ first-round pick (18th overall). The singer had the most name recognition of the three, having been seen as a potential overall Top 5 pick with the top of the spin upside down. Gilbert and Kowar, on the other hand, were seen more as mid-rotation starters, and while the scouts liked Gilbert’s fastball, they noted that his speed had dropped and although Stetson produced names like Kluber and DeGrom, he didn’t have the pedigree to pitch for a powerful SEC school like Florida.
Three years later, it’s clear why the Mariners bypassed the two Florida pitchers to take Gilbert, a pitcher who perfectly suits the developmental style of Mariners players. As his rookie campaign has seen its ups and downs, Gilbert today demonstrated what the Mariners saw in the gangly, ukulele-playing, Harry Potter-loving kid of Apopka, Fla.: A pitcher who can to sit comfortably in the 90s deep in the games. with a rich arsenal of secondary heights; and beyond, a cerebral competitor who understands how to sequence his throws and make adjustments on the fly, with the ability to execute throws when he needs them most. A fight with mono and foot surgery during his draft year could have slowed Gilbert’s rise to the greats somewhat, causing him to make his debut in 2021 instead of 2020, as Brady Singer did, but since he’s been here he’s arguably shown better things than Singer if not done better, hitting more hitters and walking a lot less – almost half as much – in twice as many innings in his freshman year. . Gilbert was already on track to ditch the ‘mid-rotation starter’ label in his first year on the job in 2019, but the pandemic has limited his ability to detonate that ill-fitting moniker in space for more. good with a dominant 2020 season, and now he’s forced to prove he belongs at the top of a rotation in the big league crucible. With outings like this today, Gilbert has shown not only why the Mariners trust him so much, but also a tantalizing glimpse of the kind of pitcher he could be once he gets more experience. at this level.
The 2021 Royals aren’t exactly a good team, but Gilbert struggled with them in his last outing against Kansas City, allowing four runs and lasting just five innings. It was the last game in a lousy three-game streak at the end of August that saw Gilbert give up 19 points in 13 innings to Toronto, Houston, and then the Royals. In September, however, Gilbert rebounded, allowing just five points in his last four starts, with 23 strikeouts – one less than he had for the entire month of August – and only three walks, half of what he had in August.
Today’s victory over the Royals, the same team that gave him adjustments in August, showed what Gilbert looks like when he’s at the top of his game: a fastball that easily sits 95-96 but can push up to 98 with precise location, and a full arsenal of side throws that let hitters guess what he’ll throw next. Instead of using his fastball heavily in the first and then mixing in the secondaries, as we saw earlier in the season, Gilbert today started to mix his throws, toss a curveball for his second pitch of the game and a total of seven break points for 12 fastballs in the first inning, ending in a strikeout by Salvador Perez, who was caught on the wrong foot when Gilbert threw a slider at him in the area in a 2-2 count.
The cursor was Gilbert’s strikeout shot today, representing four of his five strikeouts, but today it wasn’t as much about racking up strikeouts as it was for Gilbert in the past. Instead, he coaxed a host of weak Royals batting contacts, wedging them in their hands with his fastball for easy popouts and almost as many groundouts (4) as flyouts (6) – a different approach for the usual Gilbert, heavy with flyball. . The only balls Gilbert allowed to hit over 100 MPH were both, from all people, to Michael A. Taylor – one was the first shot Gilbert allowed in the game, a throwing error that was an intermediate fastball that Taylor hit for one but a more proficient power hitter could have been redirected over the fence, and another was a heavily touched ground player who could have been a baseline without the constant excellence of a JP Crawford. (Salvador Perez had a 99.9 MPH grounding on a leaky slider towards the middle of the plate, but he was just a little late, trying to protect himself from the fastball after Gilbert went to him. FB-CH-SL-SL at batting, another example of how good his throws are in mixing and sequencing today.)
The other two hits Gilbert abandoned resulted in the lone run against him that day. It all started with a two-out double from Whit Merrifield in the 6th, a well-placed 96 outside the zone that Merrifield barely managed to keep just along the straight line. A pitching mistake to Nicky Lopez – 96, but mid-to-mid – resulted in a single point and the Royals’ only run of the day. (Annoyed with himself, Gilbert would return to take out Perez by swinging 97 at the top of the zone.) All that weak contact kept Gilbert in the game until the seventh inning, tying his season high, and he ended his day with a bang:
Meanwhile, the other pitcher in the 2018 draft didn’t have such a good time in this game. Jackson Kowar is 6’5 “and can crank his heat up to 96, but he’s had a walking problem for Triple-A Omaha this year that seems to have followed him in the greats. Kowar has retired three Mariners on taken in his four innings of work, but he also walked three and allowed two homers and five runs total on seven hits. Fewer than 20 picks separated Gilbert and Kowar in the 2018 draft, but today , this gap was huge.
Another member of the 2018 draft helped make this gap wide: the best-written member of the bunch, in fact. Jarred Kelenic has struggled this year dealing with pitchers in the big leagues and the high expectations that come with being a No.6 overall draft pick. In the Mariners All-Access Show on ROOT Sports that aired before the game, Kelenic compared his experience this year to something most drivers in West Washington can relate to: the frustration of driving on the I-5. . In the past, he explained, baseball treated him well; he’s been on “I-5”, passed 80 years, passed people and waved his hand, and suddenly he ran into a wreck, “and I’m just stuck”. There is no way around it, he said, you just have to get out of it. “I’ve never been kicked in the face like that,” he said.
But over the month of September, Jarred relaxed. He increased his average to 0.250 and, most encouragingly, increased his slugging to 0.550, for a wRC + of 135. Today, he upped all those numbers with a 3-for-4 day that included two. doubles and a home run, as well as a walk. On two occasions Kelenic scored 0-2 and worked his way back, once for a walk and once for the home run, both at full count. He put the Mariners on the board early, his two double runs in the first giving the Mariners all the offense they would need that day:
Kelenic knows how to handle speed, and Kowar is closer to one of his peers than to a crafty veteran (see: Ottovino throwing him his second change of all season in 1,000 pitches for a strikeout), but it doesn’t isn’t exactly a cookie at the bottom of the box.
And Kelenic didn’t stop there. Here at the start of the inning he fell to the 0-2 count after fouling a fastball from the first pitch and witnessing a change for a called-up strike. He then spat on another change under the zone – the same pitch he chased against Ottovino, the same pitch he chased all season – fouled another fastball, took two high pitches, then punished this error from Kowar, who tried to challenge him. in the middle of the plate:
It won’t always work in Jarred’s favor; he won’t always be up against another 2018 rookie who gives him a fastball on the plate. But by working the count he has put himself in a position to succeed, and it’s encouraging to see him damaging grounds that he should be damaging.
Speaking of damage, Jake Bauers was the next hitter and:
Divish noted that Bauers spent a lot of extra time with the punching coaches, and it seems to have paid off. Statcast has this explosion at 460 feet, although I think Statcast may have watched a football game and failed to enter it correctly, with the highest output speed in the game, at 112 MPH. Positively Stanton-esque from the man I called “No Power Bauers” for most of the season. At least the designated staff fringe outfielder’s lover Connor is thrilled.
It’s been a long time since I recapped a Mariners game where there were too many attacks to fit in a recap – the Mariners scored seven points, and I’m running out of space to relate each one – and I feel quite enough. guilty that John, who loves to throw, had to recap such a stench of Kikuchi last night and also cook a whole meal from an Abraham Toro RBI which is like making a meal from a stale Triscuit (nature , tasteless), while I surrender to glory in this rookie cookie basket. But that’s how they say, the rookie’s cookie crumbles. Adding the insult to John’s injury and the insult to the Royals losing that day, John favorite Mitch Haniger decided to do some stat padding in the 9th:
Mitch is far from a rookie, but it’s a good reminder that Mitch Haniger is still hitting home runs in his first full season after missing a Game of Thrones spell. Hurray for Mitch and hurray for the Mariners, even though their recent dive against Boston and Arizona (ugh) probably knocked them out of the Wild Cards challenge. 80 wins and counting in a season where they were projected by most systems to maybe scratch 70-ish is an accomplishment in itself, and games like today, where the future leads the way, dampen the disappointments of this season by whetting the appetite for next season.