After giving up at least one run in five of six consecutive appearances between the end of May and early June, Fernando Rodney lost his job as closer for the Mariners, giving way to Carson Smith. In the time since, Smith has done an admirable job, converting all five save opportunities.
Manager Lloyd McClendon, though, hopes Rodney pitches well enough to reclaim the closer’s role. Via Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune:
“My hope,” manager Lloyd McClendon said, “is Rodney becomes that lock-down ninth-inning guy again. I think we’re a better club if he’s in the ninth, Carson is in the eighth and (Mark) Lowe and (Charlie) Furbush in the seventh.
“It closes the gap tremendously.
“That’s my hope. But I don’t know if that’s going to happen or when it’s going to happen. For right now, we’ll keep doing what we’re doing. We’ve got to win ballgames.”
Rodney owns a 5.70 ERA on the year with a 26/15 K/BB ratio in 31 appearances, grabbing 15 saves in 18 opportunities.
Taijuan Walker’s promising spring training didn’t translate to the early part of the regular season, but he’s starting to look like the pitcher the Mariners have been waiting on.
Walker tossed seven innings of one-run ball last night as part of a 7-1 win over the Angels. The 22-year-old right-hander gave up a solo homer to Mike Trout in the first inning, but that ended up being the only damage against him all night. He scattered seven hits while walking none and striking out six. Charlie Furbush and Carson Smith combined for a scoreless eighth inning before Fernando Rodney got his first save in nearly a month.
As for the offense, Brad Miller and Nelson Cruz each had RBI doubles while Robinson Cano hit a solo home run. Could Cano finally be heating up? He has two homers over his last four games after hitting just two of his first 67 games combined.
Walker struggled to the tune of a 7.33 ERA and 39/23 K/BB ratio in 43 innings over his first nine starts this season, but he has made massive strides of late, especially with his control. He has 1.91 ERA over his last six starts to go with 44 strikeouts and just three walks in 42 1/3 innings. That’ll work.
Your Friday box scores and AP recaps:
Indians 3, Orioles 4
Nationals 5, Phillies 2
Rangers 2, Blue Jays 12
Braves 2, Pirates 3 (10 innings)
White Sox 4, Tigers 5
Reds 1, Mets 2
Red Sox 4, Rays 3 (10 innings)
Dodgers 7, Marlins 1
Cubs 2, Cardinals 3 (10 innings)
Yankees 3, Astros 2
Twins 4, Brewers 10
Mariners 3, Angels 1
Diamondbacks 2, Padres 4
Mariners 3, Angels 1
Rockies 8, Giants 6
Royals 5, Athletics 2
Mariners closer Fernando Rodney blew his third save of the season Tuesday and his ERA now stands at 6.85, but manager Lloyd McClendon made it very clear that he’s sticking with him in the ninth inning.
Rodney has struggled a little bit, but so has everybody else. But the fact is, he’s our closer. We need him. We are going to need him to be successful. I think people talk very lightly about changing closers. And that’s fine, but you have to have somebody to do it. You just don’t throw anybody in the ninth inning and say, “Let him do it.” Because what happens when that guy doesn’t do it? And that’s exactly what’s going to happen.
McClendon has a history of sticking with closers well past their expiration dates, including Mike Williams and Jose Mesa. He clearly believes the ninth inning is vastly different than every other inning, but the “so has everybody else” quote about all the Mariners’ relievers struggling leaves out the fact that rookie setup man Carson Smith has a 1.17 ERA and 28/5 K/BB ratio in 23 innings after dominating in the minors.
When asked specifically about Smith by Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times, the manager replied that “he’s a young kid and we have to be careful with him.”
McClendon and the Mariners are going to live or die with 38-year-old Fernando Rodney.