Mariners’ Scott Servais on limiting Edwin Diaz to the ninth inning

Aug 17, 2016, 12:27 AM | Updated: 8:43 am

Rookie Edwin Diaz has a 1.64 ERA with 60 strikeouts in 33 innings and has gone 7 for 7 in save chan...

Rookie Edwin Diaz has a 1.64 ERA with 60 strikeouts in 33 innings and has gone 7 for 7 in save chances. (AP)


ANAHEIM, Calif. – Before he named Edwin Diaz his closer at the beginning of August, Mariners manager Scott Servais sometimes went to the young reliever in leverage situations earlier in ballgames. It could be the eighth inning. It could be the sixth inning. When the game was on the line and the big out was needed, Servais called on Diaz a couple of times.

We haven’t seen that lately. Monday night, for instance, Mike Trout came up in the seventh inning with two on and the Angels down a run, and Servais turned to Tom Wilhelmsen. I asked him the next day if there was a chance we could see Diaz in a similar situation now that he’s the closer.

“I’m not going to say it hasn’t popped into my head. It has,” Servais answered while pointing out that if it had been Sept. 20, he might have looked at the situation differently. For now, there are different elements he has to weigh in his usage of Diaz.

“I think as far as what he has brought to our club, everyone likes to see him run in in the ninth inning,” Servais said. “It’s a very secure feeling for myself, for the guys on the field who have been busting it all game and they feel good about it. Even the guys pitching in the bullpen … that’s why they are accepting of the role, because he’s been so dominant. It’s just a good fit for where he’s at there in the ninth inning.”

While Servais has thought of bringing in Diaz in critical moments before the ninth inning, not doing so has been made easier by what he now has in the bullpen.

“We’ve got guys who have closed before at different spots of their career, are comfortable, they can make pitches with traffic and when it gets loud and all that other stuff, and that’s very valuable,” he said.

Of course, needs to be managed as well. Veteran players who have performed and want the ball in big situations – Wilhelmsen talked about this after the game Monday – need to have the confidence of their manager. Servais is aware of this.

“It’s going to take more than one reliever to get us to where we want to go,” he said. “It’s going to take them all and they all need to pitch in key spots. You can’t run Diaz out there every time it gets a little shaky.”

Servais is weighing more than just the numbers when a game is on the line. The situation is just one factor along with the impact on the individual, the rest of the bullpen and the entire ballclub, both in the moment and going forward.

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Mariners’ Scott Servais on limiting Edwin Diaz to the ninth inning