Dipoto Show: Will the Mariners eventually replace George Kirby in rotation?

The Mariners have a very promising rookie who has become a key part of this 2022 ball club, and no, we’re not talking about Julio Rodríguez this time.

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That rookie is right-handed starter George Kirby, the Mariners’ 2019 first-round pick who has helped stabilize Seattle’s five-man starting rotation since his MLB debut in May.

In 11 starts this season, Kirby is 2-3 with a 3.75 ERA and 58 strikeouts on eight walks in 60 innings pitched. The thing to note with Kirby, however, is that he didn’t throw a ton of innings between his college and professional careers. He played about 90 innings twice at Elon University and only 67 2/3 innings last year between Single-A and Double-A, which came after there was no minor league season in 2020 due to the pandemic.

So should the Mariners consider replacing Kirby in the rotation at some point this season? It’s one of many topics that Mariners president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto discussed Thursday morning with mike salk during the weekly Jerry Dipoto Show on Seattle Sports 710 AM.

“I don’t think so,” Dipoto said when asked if Kirby has an innings limit in 2022.

Dipoto said the organization and Kirby have discussed his workload for the 2022 season at length since spring training, and that’s part of why Kirby’s five appearances in Double-A Arkansas earlier this year weren’t have never exceeded five innings.

“(We did this so as not to) run out of his pitch count. We didn’t want him throwing very stressful pitches in April, largely because we wanted to save some of that for the end of the season,” Dipoto said. “We don’t have a firm innings cap for George. We’ll let his stress tell the story, and right now he’s looking great.

Dipoto said the Mariners will “try to calm down” with Kirby a bit to work him really deep into games as the season progresses.

“Just like we saw with Logan (Gilbert) last year, George went through &nash; let’s call it his peaks and valleys, but his valleys are very shallow. He bounces out of his valleys very quickly,” said Dipoto said “There’s really nothing about what he’s doing to suggest he’s tired, and he’s already pretty much at his career peak in innings. We’ll let George and his body tell us what he’s capable of, but so far everything is going in the right direction.”

Stoudt, Dollard and other rotation options

If the Mariners need to replace someone in the rotation at any time, what are the options?

Someone who turned heads last year and looked set to make his 2022 debut is right-hander Levi Stoudt, who is currently with Double-A Arkansas. Could he replace the Mariners if necessary?

“Levi’s been a little inconsistent at the Double-A. He’ll give you the big out and then one where he’s not as sharp, which is part of development,” Dipoto said. “He’s also trying to develop that consistency. , especially when taking the sleeves.”

Dipoto pointed to the Triple-A roster as well as the Mariners bullpen for pitching that could provide multiple innings in the future.

“We have some Triple-A level pitchers with experience, in addition to Tommy Milone, who is in our bullpen. Now we have Chris Mazza, who has had major league experience in recent years with Tampa. We think he can be a help in this case,” he said. “We have Justus Sheffield, who has obviously made many major league starts for us over time. With this group you may not have a guy who immediately plugs in and becomes your fifth starter if someone should go down or need a break, but it does at least give you a bridge to serve (in that meaning you can) have an opener. Can you (pair) two of these guys together until you find a better fit? »

Dipoto also thinks a recent draft pick has worked really well this season and could help the MLB roster.

“The guy we’re really excited about what he’s doing right now is Taylor Dollard at Arkansas, who’s pitched extraordinarily well this year and is probably putting himself in a position to be considered if we need to. that extra guy,” Dipoto said.

Dollard, a 2020 fifth-round pick, has a 1.38 ERA in 15 Double-A starts this season.

The tricky part

While it’s never a bad thing to have more pitch, Dipoto said it can get tricky when it comes to adding swing arms.

“The trick here is we’re heading into the trade deadline and I’m listening to the various suggestions (like), ‘You need more pitching depth,’ the trick is when you go out and that you acquire another starter, someone has to leave the rotation or you have to disrupt the rhythm and start a six-man rotation there. Neither of those things are particularly popular right now,” he said. “We have five starters who are pitching very, very well and we don’t really want to move anyone. So part of the challenge is how do we improve 1-13 in our pitching squad and increase what we think is already a really good pitching team without disrupting what they’re doing because what they’re doing, frankly, is why we’re where we are, which is to fight a pretty big hole And they’re the main reason we were able to do it so quickly.

Listen to Thursday’s Jerry Dipoto Show at this link or in the player below.

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