SEATTLE -- When the Mariners recalled pitcher Brandon Maurer from Triple-A Tacoma on June 25, he was a long shot to keep a permanent spot on the big league roster. Top pitching prospect Taijuan Walker was about a week away from making his 2014 big league debut and the Mariners needed to make a corresponding 25-man roster move.
In four subsequent appearances out of the bullpen, Maurer has thrown seven scoreless innings and allowed just three hits. He has fanned nine and held opponents to a .125 batting average.
When the Mariners optioned rookie outfielder Stefen Romero to Tacoma on June 29, it ensured Maurer wouldn't be sent back to Triple-A. Not with the way he's pitching.
"There's nothing like confidence and he's feeling good about where he is at this point," manager Lloyd McClendon said. "That's the reason he's still here. He is a valuable asset to us and he really protects our arms down in that bullpen and he did it again [Sunday]."
Maurer, 24, is in his second stint with the Mariners this season after he went 1-4 with a 7.52 ERA in seven starts before getting demoted to the Minor Leagues. Since returning to the Majors as a reliever, he has added a couple miles per hour to a fastball that already resided in the mid-90s.
"I think I was holding back, trying to pace myself and it wasn't working," Maurer said of his time in the starting rotation. "Here I come out and I know I got one or two innings."
McClendon has been impressed with Maurer's control. The right-hander from California has thrown 66 of 93 pitches for strikes and walked just two since being recalled.
Maurer simply wants to show that he belongs in a bullpen that entered Monday with a 2.47 ERA, lowest in the American League.
"I got to follow suit I guess," he said. "I can't be letting them down."
Adam Lewis is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less