Mariners look to get Farquhar squared away

Mariners' right-handed reliever has struggled of late

Mariners look to get Farquhar squared away

SEATTLE -- Somewhat hidden in the Mariners' 11-4 pounding of the Padres on Tuesday was another rough outing for Danny Farquhar. But Farquhar's struggles didn't escape the attention of manager Lloyd McClendon, who says getting the right-handed reliever squared away is one of his top priorities going forward.

Handed a 7-0 lead in the seventh, Farquhar got a hard line-drive out that Robinson Cano snared, then surrendered a single and two walks to load the bases before McClendon called for Tom Wilhelmsen to stem the tide. All three of Farquhar's runners wound up scoring, though one run was unearned after a Chris Taylor error.

But the damage continued a troubling trend that has seen Farquhar allow seven hits and six runs (four earned) over 2 2/3 innings in his last four appearances. One of Seattle's most-reliable relievers a year ago with a 2.66 ERA and opponent's OPS of .607, those numbers sit at 5.63 and .832 after 15 outings.

McClendon acknowledged concern after the latest rough go, saying "something's not right there" with the 28-year-old, who has handled every role from closer to setup to multiple-inning man when needed over the past three years.

McClendon said Farquhar's issues don't necessarily impact his late-inning decisions, noting rookie Carson Smith has inherited the right-handed setup role to closer Fernando Rodney. But Farquhar's 16 innings are the most of any reliever on the staff to date and he fills a valuable role.

"If I had to say I had one set guy for the eighth inning, it's probably more Smith than anybody," McClendon said. "So it doesn't really change that. But it certainly limits our flexibility a little because Danny is so good at getting left-handers out as well. We need to get him back on track. He's just so vital to our success, we've got to get him right."

Farquhar gave up a 4-2 lead in the eighth in what turned into a 5-4 loss in Anaheim on May 5 and has been erratic in two of three appearances since, but he struggled at times earlier in the season as well and might just be pressing now.

"Maybe a little less thinking and more free and easy is my next approach," Farquhar said. "Just kind of let it go and don't worry about anything."

Farquhar feels lack of command is the obvious symptom.

"I would say my cutter is not where I want it to be," he said. "The last couple years I could locate my cutter in, out, up, down. Do whatever I wanted with it. Right now it's not pinpoint. I think that's definitely a starting point. That's my bread-and-butter pitch, so I think everything works off that. Once I get that going, I think I'll be rolling."

McClendon has used Farquhar with big leads his last two outings, attempting to get him right in less-stressful circumstances. But he insists he's not averse to using him in tight quarters if needed.

"I think the biggest thing is to get him back out there and let him pitch," said the skipper. "It's hard to straighten him out when he's not pitching. Obviously you'd like to have it in a lower-leverage situation right now, but if the matchup calls for it, I wouldn't be afraid to put him in late in games."

Farquhar got the call in the ninth inning with Seattle trailing 4-2 in Wednesday's loss to the Padres and delivered a scoreless frame with one single and a strikeout as he lowered his ERA to 5.29.

Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB, read his Mariners Musings blog, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.