Los Angeles Angels manager Mike Scioscia says Jordan Walden has been moved out of the closer role and will be replaced by Scott Downs.
Walden blew the save in Thursday’s loss 4-3 to Tampa Bay when he allowed a two-run, game-ending home run to Brandon Allen.
Walden has converted one of two save chances this season. The right-hander is 0-1 with an 8.31 ERA in six appearances.
Scioscia made the announcement before Friday night’s game at Cleveland. He said Walden will be used earlier in games but wasn’t specific about his role.
”We’ll give Jordan some innings where he can work on some things,” Scioscia said. ”Hopefully, it should be a quick fix for Jordan. It’s tough to experiment in the ninth inning of a game when you’re trying to save it. Most of this is putting him in a situation where he can still help our bullpen, but be able to throw some pitches where maybe the game’s not going to be won or lost and have more of a practice platform to get his game where it needs to be.”
Walden converted 32 of 42 save chances last season as a rookie. He was 5-5 with a 2.98 ERA and struck out 67 in 60 1-3 innings.
”When he gets his stuff right, it plays in the closer’s spot,” Scioscia said. ”He needs to get it right first and that’s what he’s going to work towards. For stretches last year, he pitched great baseball for us. He showed he had the stuff to pitch at the back end of games, but he showed the mentality last year. I don’t think this has anything to do with makeup as much it does with repeating a pitch and being able to get a breaking ball that’s consistent.”
Scioscia says Walden needs to work on his command and getting ahead of hitters. In 4 1-3 innings, Walden has struck out six, walked four and allowed five hits.
”Any pitcher, even one that throws 98 (mph), he needs to control counts and at times Jordan has had a little problem with that,” Scioscia said.
Downs, a left-hander, has pitched seven scoreless innings with no record, but the bullpen overall has struggled. Going into Friday, the relievers had converted one of six chances and had an 0-5 record with a 4.96 ERA.
”We’re trying to define some roles down there,” Scioscia said. ”We’ll put Scott back in the closer’s roles right now and match up how we can.”
The Angels, who added slugger Albert Pujols and rotation left-hander C.J. Wilson as free agentsin the offseason, began the night 6-13 and last in the AL West.