Kyle Barraclough has had to make the long, slow walk from the pitcher’s mound to the dugout far too often as of late.
After being almost unhittable to open the season, the Marlins’ closer hasn’t been able to close out games over the last week.
His role in the Marlins’ bullpen is now going to change.
Marlins manager Don Mattingly said Barraclough received the night off Tuesday and then will be slowly reinserted back into bullpen situations while the Marlins mix and match to find their third closer of the season.
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“Hopefully, the next inning he goes out there is not walking the tightrope with no room for error,” Mattingly said Tuesday. “Just get him back on track.”
In his last five outings, Barraclough has given up 11 earned runs over a span of just 3 2/3 innings. He has blown three saves in that span, two of which came on walk-off home runs to the Tampa Bay Rays and the Philadelphia Phillies. His ERA has ballooned from 1.45 to 3.45.
Barraclough’s rough patch continued in the ninth inning of the Marlins’ 2-1 win over the Cardinals on Monday. His line: two hits, two walks and a strikeout in just 1/3 of an inning. Manningly pulled Barraclough after he walking in a run with the bases loaded.
Mattingly said Barraclough is fine in terms of his health. It’s just a matter of pressing the reset button and getting him back to the strike-throwing form that he showed when he first assumed the closer role.
“Clough has been through this,” Mattingly said. “It probably hasn’t been seen the same way because it wasn’t the ninth. He’s had some stretches like this over the three years that I’ve been here that he’s had some struggles for a period of time. But when it’s in the seventh and the game’s not on the line, it’s not talked about. It’s not noticed as much. You put that guy out there without a net and then we talk about it.”
So where do the Marlins go from here?
Two that stick out are Drew Steckenrider and Javy Guerra.
Steckenrider has been steady as of late, with seven scoreless outings in his last nine relief appearances as the Marlins’ setup man. He has struck out 56 batters in 50 innings and is holding opponents to a .231 batting average.
Guerra opened his major league career as a closer for the Dodgers in 2011, converting 21 of 23 save opportunities. He relieved Barraclough in the ninth on Monday and induced an game-ending double play for his first save since 2014.
And then there’s rookie Tayron Guerrero, the 27-year-old with a fastball that regularly hits close to 100 mph. He has given up just one earned run in 12 appearances dating back to June 18.
He also showed Monday that he can match his high velocity with efficient command. In his scoreless seventh inning against the Cardinals, 22 of his 29 pitches went for strikes. That included a 14-pitch battle against Yairo Munoz that ended in a groundout.
“Tayron for me, I don’t know if there would ever be a day when he was going to throw  pitches and throw  strikes,” Mattingly said after the game. “That is something that we’ve got to feel good about.”
The test now is finding the right way to balance the bullpen.
“We’ll just try to piece it together as we get ourselves totally healthy and probably on the other side of the off day [on Thursday], we’ll have a better feel for some different combinations,” Mattingly said. “It’s not going to be one guy.”
Wednesday: Miami Marlins RHP Trevor Richards (3-6, 3.92 ERA) vs. St. Louis Cardinals RP John Gant (3-4, 4.12), 7:10 p.m., Marlins Park.