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Ryan Boyer details how Seattle Mariners starter Chris Flexen has turned around his career with increased pitching control.
RYAN BOYER: While he has seemingly gone unnoticed across the league, Chris Flexen has proved to be a nice under-the-radar signing for the Mariners. Flexen struggled with the Mets when they rushed him to the big leagues, posting an 8.07 ERA over parts of three seasons. The right-hander got his career back on track in Korea, putting up a 3.01 ERA in 2020 in the KBO. That earned him a two-year, $4.75-million contract with the Mariners this past offseason.
Flexen had a couple rocky starts early on for Seattle, most notably back in May against the Padres, when he allowed 8 runs over 1 and 2/3 innings. However, the rightie entered the All-Star break on a roll. In his final five first half starts, Flexen posted a 1.38 ERA, which lowered his overall mark on the year to 3.51. In 16 outings this season, Flexen has given up 0 or 1 run nine times.
While Flexen isn't going to give you gaudy strikeout totals, he's been among the league's better control pitchers this season, with just a 1.9 walks per nine innings rate. The improved control and leading into his off-speed pitches seems to have been the key to his career turnaround. Flexen threw his fastball more than 60% of the time with the Mets. But so far this season with the M's, he's throwing at less than 40%. Flexen picked up eight wins before the All-Star break for the surprisingly competitive Mariners. And he could be a key three-category contributor down the stretch.