Jason Grilli was eased back into things as a set-up man after returning from a forearm strain earlier this month, but Pirates manager Clint Hurdle told Tom Singer of MLB.com this afternoon that they will rely on him as their closer the rest of the way.
Grilli notched his first save since July 21 on Saturday against the Reds. Hurdle initially indicated that it was a one-day change, as Mark Melancon was coming off back-to-back blown saves, but he told Singer today that he’s “going back” to the way things were “before Jason got hurt.” This means that Melancon will serve as the primary set-up man once again while Tony Watson will fall back into seventh-inning duties.
Grilli has allowed four runs on nine hits and two walks over six innings since coming off the disabled list, but he has delivered three straight scoreless appearances. The Pirates will have to hope that he is rounding into form at just the right time for the postseason.
Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw entered Wednesday night’s start against the Marlins without having issued a walk in his previous three starts. In fact, his last walk came on April 3 when he issued a free pass to Paul Goldschmidt with the bases empty and two outs in the bottom of the first inning. All told, Kershaw was on a streak of 26 walk-less innings before he took the mound at home to take on the Marlins.
Kershaw started off Wednesday in character, striking out the side in the first inning. He issued a walk in a tough second inning, but escaped without allowing a run. Kershaw walked two more in the third and again danced out of danger. In the fourth, Kershaw walked Lewis Brinson to load the bases with no outs and — you guessed it — didn’t end up allowing a run. His errant control finally came back to bite him in the fifth when Kershaw issued back-to-back two-out walks, then served up a three-run home run to Miguel Rojas down the left field line. His night was done when he completed the inning. Five innings, three runs, five hits, six walks, seven strikeouts, 112 pitches.
The six walks Kershaw issued over five innings marked his first six-walk outing since April 7, 2010 when he issued six free passes to the Pirates in 4 2/3 innings. The only other time he walked as many was on August 3, 2009 against the Brewers in a four-plus inning outing. Kershaw hasn’t even walked five batters in an outing recently — the last time was September 23, 2012 against the Reds.