Seattle Mariners

After a tweak to his delivery, Mariners’ reliever Cory Gearrin has gone from wild to nearly unhittable

Meet the 2019 Seattle Mariners. Do you even know who they are?

The Mariners changed a lot in the offseason. Watch as fans struggle mightily on opening day to name as many players as they can on the roster.
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The Mariners changed a lot in the offseason. Watch as fans struggle mightily on opening day to name as many players as they can on the roster.

Cory Gearrin has spent much of the past eight seasons of his professional baseball career in the majors.

The 33-year-old veteran right-handed reliever is one of just two pitchers in the Seattle Mariners bullpen who has appeared in more than 280 games in his career.

He realizes some of those games are going to be better than others. That’s why Gearrin was relatively unfazed by the handful of shaky outings he pitched in early on in 2019.

“You’re going to have outings like I kind of had earlier in the season at some point every year,” Gearrin said. “So, it’s just continue to move forward and make pitches.”

Gearrin had a stretch in late March and early April where his ERA in a span of four outings was 19.29. He allowed five earned runs and walked seven batters in just 2 1/3 innings during those appearances.

“It was how he was moving, just rhythm and timing was off,” Mariners pitching coach Paul Davis said. “That resulted in a lot of arm-side misses, and not really being crisp and being able to locate his stuff.

“He made one small adjustment. His delivery is a little quirky. It is different. So, it was just a small thing really, but needed to practice it.”

Gearrin has been much more efficient since working with Davis and bullpen coach Jim Brower to tweak his delivery.

“A big part of pitching is just tempo and rhythm, so I’m making sure that I’m where I want to be,” Gearrin said. “I’m not rushing too much, and staying back, and just making good pitches.

“I think a couple outings early in the season I was rushing a little bit and getting out in front, so some of that is being balanced and staying back, and being more in control, and executing pitches.”

He has allowed two runs in his past nine outings, working 8 2/3 innings, striking out 13 and walking three. Opposing batters are hitting just 5 for 29 (.172) against Gearrin during that stretch.

“Cory’s been really good,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “I know he kind of got off the rails a little bit in a couple games early in the season. ... He’s been throwing the ball really well, so good to see.”

Gearrin has appeared in a team-high 15 games this season. He has five holds, and has compiled a 0-1 record and 4.85 ERA this season, allowing seven runs (all earned) on eight hits, while issuing 10 walks and striking out 17.

“We need him,” Servais said. “When he wasn’t in his top form there, it was kind of a struggle for us to get through some of those middle innings, and he’s a valuable piece in the bullpen.”

While Gearrin has adjusted the timing in his delivery, he continues to take time between pitches — a tactic he said he’s used for a couple of seasons now.

“There’s an old cliche that hitting is timing, and pitching is disrupting timing,” Gearrin said. “It’s one of those things where you kind of recognize the flow of the game.

“You recognize hitters’ tendencies, whether they’re guys who like to get in the box and hit right away, or if they’re somebody that likes to take their time. And you try to adjust with that, mixing in some quick pitches or slide steps, and then you take your time a little bit more.”

Gearrin said, during his time with the Giants between 2015-18, he watched pitchers like Johnny Cueto effectively disrupt opposing batters, and started implementing those tactics more.

“I’ve seen a lot of guys and played with a lot of guys that mix up timing, slide step, hold in between pitches,” Gearrin said. “Guys that work really quick, guys that work really slow — and it can all be effective depending on who’s hitting.

“You can utilize different things to try to help you out. There’s a lot of little quirks in the game that may look like this guy is really slow or this guy is really quick, but there’s usually thought that goes into that at this level. It’s a fun part of the game.”

ARMSTRONG CLAIMED BY ORIOLES

Former Mariners reliever Shawn Armstrong was claimed off waivers by Baltimore. He acknowledged the transaction on his Twitter account Sunday morning.

“I just wanted to say thank you to the Mariners and (their) fans for my time in Seattle,” he wrote. “The city and the organization is first class! I am excited to announce I will be joining the Orioles, and I can’t wait to see what this journey has (in store) for my family and I!”

The 28-year-old right-hander was designated for assignment by Seattle on Friday. He went 0-1 with a 14.73 ERA in four relief appearances this season. In 3 2/3 innings, he allowed six earned runs with three walks and three strikeouts.

In his brief stint with Seattle, Armstrong struggled to find footing after returning from a left oblique strain in mid April.

“I thought Shawn had some pretty good outings in spring training once he got going,” Servais said. “Certainly the oblique strain affected him. I know he worked really hard to try to get back as quick as he could after that.”

But, when Armstrong did return from the 10-day injured list, his command faltered.

“We’ve seen Shawn very good, but it’s really (been) driven by the fact that he’s pounding the strike zone, and he needs to get back to doing that,” Servais said.

Armstrong has spent parts of five major league seasons with Cleveland, Seattle and now Baltimore. He has a career record of 1-2 with a 3.65 ERA in 57 career appearances.

HANIGER HELD OUT

Mariners outfielder Mitch Haniger was held out of Sunday’s lineup with right shoulder soreness.

Haniger fell awkwardly on the warning track during Saturday night’s loss, trying to snag a Joey Gallo home run that just cleared the fence in right center.

“He landed on his shoulder and jammed his arm,” Servais said. “I didn’t see the replay, but the trainers were talking about it. It was an awkward fall.”

Servais said the Mariners looked at images of Haniger’s shoulder Sunday, and was hopeful that it was a minor problem.

He said keeping Haniger out was a precautionary measure. After days off Sunday and Monday, Haniger will likely return for Seattle’s two-game series against the Cubs to end this homestand.

In 29 games, Haniger has a .250/.328/.533 slash line, and had scored an American League-leading 28 runs entering Sunday. He has 30 hits, 11 doubles, seven homers and 19 RBIs.

INJURY UPDATES

Right-handed reliever Gerson Bautista (pectoral) has thrown a bullpen, and will likely throw in an extended spring training game Monday or Tuesday.

Left-handed starter Wade LeBlanc (oblique) is progressing faster than expected.

“He’s playing catch. He’s picking up the intensity,” Servais said. “He’s not on the mound yet. That could very well come here mid next week. A couple mound sessions, and see what he needs to do.”

Servais said LeBlanc has not felt pain from the oblique strain in the exercises he has done so far. LeBlanc will likely complete a rehab assignment before returning to the rotation.

Right-handed closer Hunter Strickland (lat) was examined by doctors Saturday, and tested out at full strength, but has not yet started throwing.

Right-handed reliever Sam Tuivailala (Achilles) has thrown in one extended spring training game, and will throw in another Monday before beginning a rehab assignment.

Lauren Smith covers the Seattle Mariners for The News Tribune. She previously covered high school sports at TNT and The Olympian, beginning in 2015. She is a graduate of the University of Washington and Emerald Ridge High School.


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