On Thursday, Jordan Walden blew a save opportunity for the first time this season, giving up a two-run homer in the ninth to Brandon Allen. On Friday, Angels manager Mike Scioscia removed Walden from the closer's role.
I'm having trouble processing this news, because where I'm from (Chicago), managers don't even bother to give pep talks to closers until their blown save totals reach double-digits.
Scott Downs has been reassigned to the ninth inning — temporarily, according to the early reports — while Walden works through a few issues. Here's Scioscia, via the Los Angeles Times:
"Right now, we want to get Jordan some innings where he can work on some things," Scioscia said. "It should be a quick fix. When Jordan gets his stuff right, it will play in the closer spot, and that's what we're working toward."
"It's tough to experiment in the ninth inning of a game," Scioscia said. "We want to put him in situations where he can still help our bullpen but be able to throw some pitches where the game is not won or lost."
So this doesn't actually sound like a permanent move, assuming Walden can indeed "get his stuff right." He's still throwing 97-98 mph, he's only allowed runs in two of his six appearances, and Thursday's homer was the first given up by Walden this season. Control has been the problem here.
For now, Downs is in line for saves. The 36-year-old left-hander has been an excellent late-inning reliever over multiple seasons, and he's been a fill-in closer, too. Add him wherever he's available. But maybe pitch an offer for Walden if his owner is ready to kick him to the curb.