'Up from here': Woo flashes potential in rocky MLB debut

Righty racks up 4 K's, but allows 6 runs over 2 innings in first big league start

June 4th, 2023

ARLINGTON -- , the Mariners' No. 6-ranked prospect, was given an abrupt welcome to The Show on Saturday when he surrendered six runs over two innings in a lopsided 16-6 loss to the Rangers in his MLB debut at Globe Life Field.

Woo, 23, was recalled from Double-A Arkansas to replace the injured , who was initially scheduled to start against Texas before instead being placed on the 15-day injured list. It didn’t take long for Woo to be introduced to Major League competition, though, as the Rangers chased him out of the game after just two innings.

“It was a rough day all around, obviously,” said Mariners skipper Scott Servais. “Bryan was making his first Major League start and they were super aggressive on him early. They are a very aggressive team on the fastball and they got on it early.”

Texas stars Marcus Semien and Corey Seager got the rally started, as Semien hit a leadoff double in the first inning before being driven in by Seager's single in the following at-bat.

After surrendering his first career run, Woo demonstrated the powerful fastball that made him such a dominant force in the Minors when he struck out Nathaniel Lowe on a 96.1 mph heater for his first career strikeout. In that six-pitch at-bat, Woo overpowered Lowe, feeding him four fastballs of at least 95 mph -- and one looping curveball -- before freezing him with a fastball at the knees.

“I was definitely able to settle in a little bit,” Woo said of his emotions following his first Major League strikeout. “My fastball was coming out pretty well today. I was, obviously, a little amped up. My energy was a little high, so I tried to control it the best I could and take it pitch by pitch. It definitely felt nice to get the first one, though.”

When asked if he kept the ball as a souvenir, Woo mentioned his focus was on ending the inning, but he was optimistic that someone around the clubhouse had it.

“I’m not sure where the ball is, to be honest,” Woo said with a smile. “Hopefully, we’ll find it at some point.”

Woo recorded his second big league strikeout later in the inning, punching out Josh Jung -- but that was overshadowed by a two-run double by Jonah Heim that gave the Rangers a 3-1 lead.

The rookie hurler once again surrendered three runs in the second inning. In total, Woo gave up seven hits and one walk while striking out four over two innings.

Despite the tough loss, Woo radiated when reflecting on his first big league action.

“My stuff was good today,” Woo said. “I just made a couple of mistakes. … It’s up from here, though. I got a lot of good feedback from the guys, so I’m just going to keep working.”

The pitching struggles were not limited to just Woo, though, as the Mariners’ bullpen also struggled to contain the Rangers' offense, surrendering 10 runs in six relief innings.

Tayler Saucedo and Chris Flexen surrendered the bulk of the damage, with Saucedo giving up four runs over two innings and Flexen allowing five runs in two frames of his own.

Saucedo, who had allowed only one run since May 12, struggled mightily against the Rangers. After allowing one run in the fourth, the left-hander unraveled in the bottom of the fifth inning. He allowed three runs on a monstrous 408-foot home run by Leody Taveras. It was the first home run surrendered by Saucedo since April 10, 2022 (also against the Rangers).

Flexen later gave up five runs in the seventh, putting Seattle in an insurmountable 15-3 hole.

Next up for the Mariners, the team will conclude the series against the Rangers with a matinee game on Sunday before traveling to California to take on the Padres and Angels.