The biggest problem for Brandon Maurer, the starter, was the days he wasn’t pitching.
Maurer always had the talent, but he struggled to process all the necessary information in the four days preparing for a start. And his numbers this season underscored that: a 7.52 ERA in seven starts.
“I was just having a tough time getting my head around that,” Maurer said.
When the Mariners recalled Maurer from Class AAA Tacoma in June as a reliever, no one thought much of it. Including the Mariners. Manager Lloyd McClendon said Maurer was supposed to stay in the majors for only a few days, but Maurer was too good to send back down. McClendon said Maurer had an instant “wow factor,” and he elected to keep Maurer as an eighth reliever (most teams have seven relievers).
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Since moving to the bullpen, Maurer has a 1.80 ERA with 27 strikeouts in 25 innings.
“I think it put him in a real nice position, a comfort zone so to speak,” McClendon said. “There was just too much to think about when he was in the starting rotation. Too many things going through his mind, and he just couldn’t calculate it all. Now, for a lack of a better term, he’s in that Beast Mode.”
The move simplified what Maurer needed to focus on. He no longer has to worry about game plans or how he was going to attack a lineup in such detail and just focuses on throwing.
“I’ve been trusting the catcher a lot lately,” Maurer said. “Whatever he’s putting down, I’m throwing.”
He also doesn’t have to pace himself, and he’s throwing in the high 90s.
The Mariners bumped Felix Hernandez from his scheduled start Wednesday and will start him against the Nationals on Friday.
The Mariners have an off day Thursday so Hernandez will get two extra days of rest. The Mariners haven’t announced who will start in Hernandez’s place Wednesday, but Erasmo Ramirez and Taijuan Walker are the likely candidates.
McClendon wanted no part of extra innings in the game Sunday at Boston, so he did something he could only recall doing in spring training: He ordered his outfield in and his infield to spread apart with the bases loaded in the ninth inning of an 8-6 game.
McClendon’s bullpen was spent. Either closer Fernando Rodney was going to get out of the jam or the Mariners were going to lose.
“Listen, you just take your shot,” McClendon said. “You’re on the road, you don’t want a tie. You either win it or lose it and go home for the sake of the next seven games.”