The Seattle Mariners won’t be relying on Edwin Diaz to close out their games for the time being. Instead, their focus will be on getting their 23-year-old reliever back to a condition in which they’ll be comfortable firing him out in ninth innings.
The young right-hander will be used in less pressure-filled situations while the team works to fix some issues with his mechanics, Mariners manager Scott Servais said Tuesday, a day after Diaz walked four batters and allowed two runs while registering just one out in a save situation. For the season, Diaz has seven saves, two blown saves and a 5.28 ERA.
“Where we’re at, the major league level and the pressures and everything else that goes along with the ninth inning, (this is) probably a situation where we do get him some work earlier in the game. Some nights it might be the sixth inning, might be a seventh inning, might be more than one inning to try and get him going back,” Servais said. “What we saw last night, certainly it’s a 23 year old who didn’t have a good feel for what was going on out there and more importantly didn’t know how to fix it. … I know (pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr. has) some things he wants to address with him mechanically just to give him those cues when things start going bad.
“We saw it last night, he doesn’t know where to go. And that’s up to us as coaches to make sure he’s got a place to go.”
Diaz told reporters Tuesday that he’s understanding of Servais’ decision to take him out of the closer role.
“I know I’m not pitching good right now, and I just want the team to win,” Diaz said. “I agree with him. I need to fix my things and then I will be back as the closer.”
Servais said the Mariners will rely on matching up their relievers to get through ninth innings for the time being, with lefty specialist Marc Rzepczynski and righties Tony Zych and Nick Vincent all possibilities to get the final outs of games. Steve Cishek, who was Seattle’s closer for the majority of last season, is another option, though Servais is hoping to avoid putting him in save situations so close to his return from the disabled list from offseason hip labrum surgery. Cishek was both activated and made his season debut Monday, throwing four pitches to get a groundball out against one batter faced.
Judging by Servais’ comments, the Mariners definitely want to get Diaz back to closing as soon as possible, but they’re not about to rush things.
“We gotta get Edwin right. He’s got a great arm. We know what he can do when he is right. We’re gonna need him, but right now it’s probably not gonna be the ninth inning,” Servais said, adding that Diaz does have a track record of rebounding. “The one thing that Edi Diaz has shown us throughout his time here is if he has a rough stretch, he is able to bounce back from it. He had the rough game in Anaheim early in the year on the first road trip; he bounced back after that and was perfectly fine for the next few outings.”
• James Paxton, who is working his way back from a forearm strain, will require a rehab start in the minors before returning to the M’s, Servais said. The skipper added that the Mariners are shooting for him to return either late in their next road trip, which will wrap up May 30 in Colorado, or early in the following homestand, which begins May 31.
• Mitch Haniger, who is on the disabled list with an oblique strain, ran the bases and took some shadow swings on the field before Tuesday’s game.
• Servais announced that rookie Sam Gaviglio will make his first Mariners start on Thursday. The 26-year-old right-hander threw two innings of relief on May 11 in Toronto in his MLB debut, allowing a run on two hits while striking out four.
• You can find the lineups for Tuesday’s Mariners game in this post. The lineup does not include Robinson Cano, who is out for the sixth straight day and was placed on the disabled list in the afternoon with a right quad strain.