Thankfully for Luke French, the Mariners offense came to play, and he was facing Kansas City, a team with one of the worst offenses in the majors, or his debut could have been a disaster. French left the ball high in the zone all night, leading to a grip of hard hit balls and deep fly balls.
The first time through the line up French was successful at keeping KC hitters off balance by complimenting his fastball with an above average change-up. His lack of a solid out pitch caused him to repeatedly get worked deep into counts, and made it difficult for him to retire hitters after their initial plate appearances.
Although French’s numbers, four earned runs over five innings and one walk, could be shrugged off as a mediocre performance, French was lucky to be facing a team ranked 28th in hits and 26th in home runs, or his numbers would have been ugly.
French was only able to record one out in the third inning before blowing his two run lead from the top of the inning, by allowing Billy Butler to crush a belt-high fastball over the left field fence.
Seattle responded by putting up six runs on six hits in the top of the fourth, which made the second two-run blast, courtesy of Alex Gordon on another belt-high platter ball, a bit less painful.
French made it out of this game alive.
Bottom line, the Mariners won.
But he’s got some work to do.
If he is going to have success against better teams, he is going to need to keep the ball lower than he did tonight.
If the Mariners expect French to throw deeper into the game than the fifth inning, which he accomplished once so far this year, in July against KC, they’re going to have to help him develop and control his mediocre slider.
His change-up gives him the potential to be a good starter, but he needs one more pitch that will allow him to mix it up a bit more after hitters have seen him once.