One day after another ninth-inning malfunction led to a stinging defeat for the Marlins, struggling veteran Brad Ziegler was stripped of the closer’s role.
Manager Don Mattingly would not say which reliever would become his go-to guy in ninth-inning save situations, but most signs point to Kyle Barraclough as that pitcher.
While Mattingly didn’t dismiss the possibility of using different relievers in the closer’s role, he also said that “I think you’d like to have a guy you think is that guy.”
For Ziegler, Wednesday’s ninth-inning collapse was the final straw.
The Marlins took a 2-1 lead into the ninth before the Padres came up with a pair of runs to pull out the win.
Ziegler’s numbers have been misleading.
While he has converted nine out of 10 save opportunities -- Wednesday’s blown save was his first of the season -- he has an 0-5 record and 7.83 ERA.
"I don't know exactly what it is," Ziegler said afterward of his issues. "It's pretty empty. It's a lot of self-examination, questioning, what in the world is going on? It's frustrating to just be in this spot again."
Mattingly used Barraclough in Wednesday’s eighth inning to face the top of the Padres’ order before bringing Ziegler in for the ninth.
"We sent Claw out there through the top of the order," Mattingly said of Barraclough. "He really gets the toughest part of those last two innings. You talk about leverage situations. Do you want your best guys pitching against the best part of the order? Or do you want him to pitching somewhere else?"
More than likely, he’ll be pitching the ninth from now on, though Mattingly also mentioned Drew Steckenrider as another possibility for that role.
Barraclough this season has gone 0-2 with a 1.48 ERA in 25 appearances. Opposing batters are hitting just .111 against him and he has a low WHIP of 0.986. He averages 10 strikeouts per nine innings.
Ziegler, on the other hand, has a WHIP nearly twice that of Barraclough (1.739) and opposing batters are hitting .340 against him with four home runs.
Barraclough has only two career saves.
Mattingly said Ziegler would be used “differently” from now.
“We’re going to try to match him up better,” Mattingly said. “It doesn’t mean he won’t be out there sometimes in the ninth, or the sixth, or the fifth, or the seventh or the eighth.”
Mattingly said Ziegler handled the decision well when he spoke with him.
“Zig understands the situation,” Mattingly said. “He’s professional. He understands. I just told him we were going to try to make a change and do things a little differently.”
Speaking to reporters before Thursday’s game, Mattingly said he had not yet informed the player he has in mind for the closer’s role but would do so before the Marlins took the field.
“That’s who we’ll be trying to get the ball to, if he’s available,” Mattingly said of the mystery closer.
Wednesday’s ninth-inning blowup cost Jose Urena his first win of the season. Urena was in line for the win after allowing only one run over six innings. Instead, he remained at 0-7 after failing to receive a decision.
The Marlins scored their only runs on Starlin Castro’s two-run shot.