Mariners notebook: What are the answers for the rotation problems?

Apr 21, 2015, 7:07 PM | Updated: Apr 22, 2015, 10:01 am
"He's going to be just fine," Lloyd McClendon said about Hisashi Iwakuma, who's had uncharacteristic command issues in his three starts this year. (AP)

All eyes on Taijuan Walker tonight as the Mariners are looking for three of their starting five to get on track. While acknowledging that the pitching is a concern, manager Lloyd McClendon said that it was far from time to panic.

“When you have this kind of stretch at the beginning of the season, you have nothing to compare it to. Everything is blown out of proportion, everything is going to hell. We have to keep our perspective and our heads about us and realize we haven’t even played a tenth of the season,” he said.

“We’re 5-8 and everyone’s panicking. ‘(Hisashi) Iwakuma’s not throwing good’ He’s going to throw good. He’s going to be just fine. We’ve got to get things straightened out and we have the type of team when we do get things straightened out we will get on a real good roll and it will be a lot of fun. Just be patient and I promise you that it will get straightened out.”

With Iwakuma it is a matter of command. McClendon and pitching coach Rick Waits are not overly concerned that his velocity was down a bit Monday night. The command is a mechanical issue that has been pinpointed on video.

“He’s just not getting on top of the ball,” Waits said. “He’s just dropping down just a little bit and it is affecting the movement on his fastball.”

Waits also pointed out that improved mechanics should help the velocity as well.

Have Iwakuma’s, James Paxton’s and Walker’s mechanics changed between spring training to the regular season? Tough to say. Paxton never looked completely locked into his delivery this spring. Iwakuma and Walker appeared to be on. Regardless of where they were then, they all are in the same spot now. I asked McClendon if it was basically a matter of just continuing to get into the regular season.

“Yes and no,” he answered. “You have got to continue to grind but you also have to make adjustments.”

This may be more of a challenge for Paxton and Walker, who don’t have many big-league innings behind them. This is being taken into consideration by McClendon.

“They are very talented, they are very good, they are going to be tremendous pitchers. But you have to show some patience. Even when they are good there are going to be some starts that leave you scratching your head, but talent-wise they’re very good,” he said.

No doubt McClendon is hoping for a non head-scratching start from Walker tonight.


• Walker is making his fifth career start against the Astros. He is 3-0 with a 2.91 ERA vs. Houston. In his other nine big-league, starts Walker is 0-5 with a 5.59 ERA.

• Tom Wilhelmsen, who is on the 15-day disabled list with a hyperextended elbow, is scheduled to play catch Friday. The hope is he will be able to throw a bullpen session on the upcoming road trip. He most likely will have to be sent on a short rehab assignment before returning to the bullpen.

• Although the bullpen has been taxed early this season, McClendon said that it is very unlikely they would be able to go with an eight-man pen to help out.

No starting pitcher.

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Mariners notebook: What are the answers for the rotation problems?