Angels strip Jordan Walden of closing duties, give job to Scott Downs

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One blown save was all it took for Jordan Walden to lose the Angels’ closer job.

After saving 32 games as a rookie last season Walden didn’t get his first save opportunity until April 20 this year. He converted it, but then coughed up two runs yesterday to blow his second save chance.

And today the Angels announced that he’s been demoted to a seventh- and eighth-inning role with left-hander Scott Downs taking over as closer, although manager Mike Scioscia left open the possibility that the move is temporary.

Scioscia told reporters that Walden “needs to work on things in situations where the game can’t be won or lost on one pitch.”

Walden certainly hasn’t pitched well in the early going, but that seems like a pretty strong reaction to a closer allowing runs in just two of his six outings and it’ll be plenty easy for him to win or lose games on one pitch working a high-leverage setup role too. Of course, pretty strong reactions tend to happen when an expected World Series contender begins the season 6-13 even if Walden took just one of those losses.

Last year right around this time it was Walden who supplanted a struggling Fernando Rodney as the Angels’ closer and the hard-throwing 24-year-old right-hander has a 3.15 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 80 career innings.

Nationals place Anthony Rendon on disabled list

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The Nationals announced that third baseman Anthony Rendon has been placed on the 10-day disabled list, retroactive to April 19, with a toe contusion. Pitcher Austin Adams was recalled from Triple-A Syracuse.

Rendon fouled a pitch off of his foot on April 13 in a game against the Rockies. The Nationals were hoping he wouldn’t need to go on the disabled list, which is why he was day-to-day for a week and a half. Unfortunately, Rendon’s stint on the DL can only be backdated to Thursday, so he won’t be eligible to return until this weekend.

Rendon, 27, is hitting .286/.355/.411 with a home run and four RBI in 62 plate appearances so far this season. Wilmer Difo has been handling third base while Rendon has been out and figures to continue doing so for the next week or so.