Sewald gearing up for Mariners' stretch run

Right-hander looks to anchor bullpen as Seattle pursues AL Wild Card spot

September 18th, 2021

KANSAS CITY -- tossed 1 1/3 scoreless innings of relief against the Royals on Friday night, his second straight scoreless outing. It was nothing out of the ordinary for the right-hander, who has been a pillar of the Mariners’ bullpen all season long.

But it was important for Sewald to post consecutive strong outings given what happened a week prior. Sewald had given up five runs over three innings in his previous three outings against the Astros and Red Sox, including four homers. It was nothing catastrophic, but for as steady as he’s been, it was a bit unusual.

Sewald didn’t let it get to him, though, as he knew occasional speedbumps like that are natural in baseball, particularly for a pitcher that’s been used as much as he has.

“I think it's just a little bit of, maybe a little bit of fatigue as far as later in the year,” said Sewald, who had logged 54 2/3 innings across 53 games entering play on Saturday. “Maybe I missed my location a couple of times, no big deal. And then a couple of times, when we have three, four-run leads, I'm going out there trying to throw strikes. I'm not trying to walk people. That's what I'm trying to do.”

That’s especially the case when you face lineups like he did over that stretch with Houston and Boston, which Sewald pointed out are full of “All-Stars” and “MVP vote-getters.” But no matter who he’s facing or how tired he is, he knows that he can’t let hiccups like that stretch throw him off given where his team is at and how much the Mariners rely on him.

“You make mistakes, those are the guys that can get you,” Sewald said, “and they got me a couple times, and just had to refocus and say, 'Hey, we have three weeks left, we're in a pennant chase, trying to get that [American League] Wild Card,' and it's like, 'Hey, I'm just trying to bear down and get wins for our team.’"

Manager Scott Servais echoed Sewald’s sentiments about his usage, downplaying the bumpy stretch he had and highlighting his impact on the club’s success in the process.

"I've said it many times, we would not be in the position that we're in right now without what Paul Sewald has done for us this year,” Servais said. “ … We have used Sewald a ton. And like a lot of players in the league right now, the tank is not full anymore. So I think it's important you can find him some down time, some down days.”

Servais used Sewald to escape a jam in the seventh and shut down the meat of the Royals' order in the series opener on Friday, an objective he accomplished with ease, as he allowed just one batter to reach via a walk.

That, and the many outings like it this season, demonstrate Sewald’s flexibility to be able to get more than three outs, something Servais commended him for. His skipper also acknowledged the role he will play as Seattle continues to fight for an AL Wild Card berth.

“He'll be huge here down the stretch,” Servais said. “We've got to try to keep a little bit of gas left in that tank best we can and we'll see what he can bring to the finish line for us."

Sewald is ready for the challenge. He knows that he has what it takes to persevere, just like he -- and the rest of his teammates -- have done all season.

"If there was one word for this team, it would be resiliency,” Sewald said. “If you watch us enough, there's been plenty of games where [people] thought, 'OK, that's when the Mariners are going to fall off,' and here we are. However many [games] we have [left], and we're still plugging away, and that's really all that matters. Resiliency has been the key for all of us."