A day after the Mariners both removed Edwin Diaz from the closer role and endured a disastrous pitching performance in the ninth inning without him, manager Scott Servais was asked about the team’s back-end bullpen situation.
“Challenging,” responded Seattle’s second-year skipper.
That is certainly is – on multiple levels.
The No. 1 concern is getting the 23-year-old Diaz back in a position with his mechanics that the Mariners would be comfortable with putting him back in save situations. But without a set closer for the time being, Servais said he has much more than usual to consider about his relief pitchers.
“I would love to get Edwin Diaz back and rolling again like we saw last year. Having an anchor at the back of the bullpen is huge,” Servais said. “When you don’t have the so-called anchor, you’ve got to be creative in how you’re handling other people, but at the end of the day we can’t afford to lose any of our bullpen guys.”
And for Servais, that means he has to be careful with how often he uses his other relievers in high-leverage situations – something made all the more difficult with four starting pitchers on the disabled list, meaning Seattle doesn’t have a good chance of getting six or seven innings out of a starter on most days.
“When you start going to (relievers) as early as I’m gone to them, it starts catching up with you, and I wanna be conscious of that,” Servais said. “I don’t want to burn those guys out.
“I’d love to pitch Nick Vincent every day – I can’t do it. James Pazos, can’t do it. Zep [Marc Rzepczynski], been off to a great start, can’t do it every day. I gotta be smart there. We’re trying to preserve as many healthy pitchers as we can. I think that’s the best way to go about it right now.”
As for Diaz, Servais wants to get him a multiple-inning outing in the middle of a game soon so that the right-handed flamethrower can get an opportunity to get a better feel for his mechanics.
“We do want to find a situation for Edi to get out there and try to work on a few things and get him back in the right spot,” Servais said.
There’s plenty of things to work on, too. Pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr. spoke at length Tuesday about what he’ll be working on with Diaz, and he has no shortage of ideas.
“We looked at some video of Pedro Martinez. You look at how they both work, very comparable in terms of their arms and their bodies,” Stottlemyre said. “The one thing that Pedro did for a long time is he had some awareness and body control. With Edi it’s hips ahead of arm, so we went out and I’m just trying to teach him how to use his body down the slope, so that his arm can go with it and he can hopefully repeat pitches down the slope and on the other end of the plate, something he’s never really had a handle on. Taking him through some basic stuff and trying to keep it simple without confusing him that he can grab onto and take it into the game if he gets sideways again.”
Stottlemyre added that Diaz has been able to get by on his phenomenal stuff in the past, but he has a lot of learning to do about pitching out of the bullpen, which is something he switched to just last season.
“He’s never really had feel or recognition of body awareness of where he needs to go when he needs to make mechanical adjustments. You try to stay away from those things with young players, but there does come a point in time that you have to go back to that,” Stottlemyre said. “And look, he sped through the minor leagues … (and was) shoved over to the bullpen, and you can see the end result.
“We’re gonna put him in some low-leverage situations and take the pressure off because we know when the game speeds up what happens.”
• Injured outfielder Mitch Haniger (oblique) took batting practice Wednesday, a day after he took the field and ran through agility drills.
— Brent Stecker (@BrentStecker) May 18, 2017
• The Mariners called up pitcher Casey Lawrence and optioned Chase De Jong to Triple-A Tacoma on Wednesday afternoon. You can find details on the move as well as lineups for Wednesday’s game in this post.