BROCK AND SALK

Scott Servais: Mariners need Taijuan Walker to step up

Aug 25, 2016, 11:55 AM
Taijuan Walker took the loss Monday but manager Scott Servais was pleased with his starter's perfor...
Taijuan Walker took the loss Monday but manager Scott Servais was pleased with his starter's performance. (AP)
(AP)
LISTEN: Mariners manager Scott Servais on the team's playoff push

Taijuan Walker is back with the Mariners, having thrown 5 2/3 innings in Tuesday’s loss to the Yankees after returning from a short stint in Triple-A, and it’s expected that he’ll stay in the rotation for the foreseeable future.

The question is, will he be the pitcher the Mariners need him to be as they pursue a playoff spot, or will he continue to be plagued by inconsistency?

Mariners manager Scott Servais addressed that Wednesday on “Brock and Salk,” and it’s clear there’s a lot riding on the 24-year-old right-hander’s performance down the stretch.

“He knows that everything hasn’t come together for him this season the way he had hoped it would, but we have a lot of season left to play and he’s going to continue to get the ball,” Servais said. “We need him to continue to step up and get deep into the ballgame, find out a way to get through the sixth and into the seventh inning.”

That wasn’t an issue early in the season, as Walker opened the year with four straight quality starts. Those became a lot harder to come by in the following months, however, and tendinitis in his right foot started hampering him in mid-June. After multiple short outings, a trip to the disabled list and the aforementioned demotion to Triple-A, Walker has something to prove. Servais said he can see that Walker knows it, too.

“There is no doubt Taijuan Walker has a chip on his shoulder right now. Rightly so,” Servais said. “The effort level has always been there. I don’t ever question that with Taijuan. … I think the competitive level, there’s a difference. Effort is trying hard. Competing is trying to figure out a way to beat the guy and making adjustments throughout the course of the game. Sometimes that comes with maturity and experience.”

The Mariners hope that maturity becomes evident soon.

“Where we’re at right now, especially in this season, we kinda need it to happen now. I did see some good signs out of Taijuan (Tuesday) night. I do think he’s going to be a big part of our future, but we want him to be a big part of our present,” Servais said.

“There’s a fine line – how patient do you want to be? We’ve gotta win now. That’s the balancing act. I do know with the ability that he has, the stuff that he has, he does have a chance to go out there and shut somebody down through seven or eight innings. The guys that have stepped in – the Wade LeBlancs, Cody Martins – have done a fantastic job of keeping us in the ballgame, and Taijuan needs to do that as well.”

Notes

• If there’s one thing Servais wants to see his team improve, it would be the ability to put opponents away instead of letting them back into games. “I think we’ve been in a few games where we’ve had a chance to really go for the jugular, to strangle people, have the other team down, and we kinda let them back into the game. I think that’s a little bit frustrating because the mark of all good teams – no matter if it’s football, it’s baseball – (is) when you’ve got somebody down, you’ve got to finish them off, and there’s been a few games we have not done that.”

• Servais likes what he’s seen from lefty Ariel Miranda, who has made three starts since being acquired from Baltimore for Wade Miley late last month. “Miranda has thrown the ball very well. Got a good arm. He’s worked on the breaking ball, the slider. He threw some decent ones in the game (last Sunday), the changeup/split he’s got going. I’ve been impressed. We’ve fired him out there, he’s handled situations, he does not back off. He’s throwing strikes, and there’s a lot to be excited about there going forward.”

No starting pitcher.

Mariners Roof Report

Brought to you by
Sunny
High 77° | Low 54°
No game today.

Brock and Salk podcast

Brock and Salk

Seahawks Geno Smith...
Brandon Gustafson

Carroll: How Geno, Waldron had Seahawks’ offense ‘ripping’ vs Lions

After the Seahawks' 48-45 win over the Lions, Pete Carroll hit the Seattle Sports airwaves to discuss his offense, especially Geno Smith.
15 hours ago
Seahawks Jamal Adams...
Brent Stecker

How missing Jamal Adams has thrown Seahawks’ defense for a loop

Brock Huard explains why something that K.J. Wright pointed out about the impact of Jamal Adams missing from the Seahawks' defense jumps out.
4 days ago
Mariners Mitch Haniger...
Brent Stecker

Mariners’ Mitch Haniger has a lot riding on the rest of the season

Mitch Haniger slumped in September, complicating what the Mariners should do with him set to be a free agent this offseason.
4 days ago
Mariners Jarred Kelenic...
Brandon Gustafson

Is Mariners’ Jarred Kelenic back for good? 3 MLB insiders weigh in

Jarred Kelenic has produced in his short time back with the Mariners from Triple-A. We look at what MLB insiders Mike Blowers, Jeff Passan and Jon Morosi have to say about him.
5 days ago
Seahawks Boye Mafe...
Brandon Gustafson

K.J. Wright: Why, how Seahawks should play Boye Mafe more

Seahawks legend K.J. Wright thinks Seattle needs to be playing rookie LB Boye Mafe more going forward, especially on early downs.
5 days ago
Mariners Luis Castillo...
Brandon Gustafson

Dipoto: Mariners’ Julio extension ‘fired up’ Luis Castillo to sign long-term

The Mariners' extension with Luis Castillo may not have happened if not for Julio Rodríguez's megadeal, as Jerry Dipoto explained Thursday.
5 days ago
Scott Servais: Mariners need Taijuan Walker to step up