CHICAGO -- The Mariners remain bullish on right-handed reliever Steve Delabar, but want the 28-year-old to work on adding another pitch to his arsenal in Triple-A Tacoma after optioning him to the Minor Leagues on Wednesday.
Opposing hitters were batting just .200 against Delabar and he had an impressive 31 strikeouts and seven walks in 24 1/3 innings with a 1.03 WHIP. But seven of the 18 hits he'd given up were home runs, which is why his ERA was sitting at 5.11 and he's now pitching in Tacoma.
"We want Delabar to work on a couple things, his slider and direction with the fastball and leveraging the baseball," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. "He's so big and tall and throws so hard, it would just flatten out now and then and that's when he gets in trouble with the long ball.
"So when he really leverages the ball down, which I think will help his slider, too, then you get the best of both worlds. So we're going to have him go down there and work on those things."
Left-handers hit just .108 (4-for-37) with no home runs against the 6-foot-5 righty, while right-handers hit .264 (14-for-53) with seven home runs. That's where the need for an improved slider comes in, according to pitching coach Carl Willis.
"He needs a third pitch, particularly to right-handed hitters," Willis said. "He's got a power fastball, but the ball tended to creep up in the zone against right-handers and he supplied the power. So we really want to maintain some downhill plane with that fastball and be more consistent in the bottom of the zone with it.
"Hitters have seen more of him now and knowing he's a two-pitch pitcher with a fastball and split, they're just going up there with the idea of getting the ball up in the zone. And once he gets it up, he supplies the velocity and they put an under-control swing on it and it travels."