For Medina, not a September to remember

Mariners bullpen stalwart struggling in season's final month

For Medina, not a September to remember

TORONTO -- While fatigue has been a growing concern for the Mariners rotation as Chris Young and Hisashi Iwakuma have struggled and Roenis Elias was shut down with an elbow injury, the bullpen isn't immune from late-season issues as well.

Seattle's relievers still have an AL-leading 2.54 ERA, but that number has also risen recently and Yoervis Medina, one of the club's most-reliable right-handers, has wobbled as much as any of the aforementioned starters.

Medina, who is tied for the third-most appearances on the team with 62 going into Monday's series opener with the Blue Jays, has been hit hard in September with a 9.00 ERA and .452 opponent's batting average as he's allowed six runs and 14 hits in six innings over his last seven outings.

The 26-year-old had a 2.09 ERA at the end of August, but that number has risen to 2.87 with his rugged September. He gave up five hits in 1 1/3 innings in Sunday's 7-3 loss to the Astros, including a three-run home run to Jake Marisnick in the seventh inning that ended Seattle's comeback hopes.

"Everybody goes through ruts in the course of a season, but this is not the right time to do it," manager Lloyd McClendon said after Sunday's struggle. "He hasn't been good. His command hasn't been good. He threw a couple lousy sliders, his fastballs have been up. We tried to get him stretched out and hopefully that will help."

"I think he made a few really good pitches to Marisnick with that slider early, then he tried to over-correct when he yanked one a little bit," said catcher Mike Zunino. "That went back over the plate and [Marisnick] did a good piece of hitting. But it's just getting him to trust his stuff, trust that power sinker and get on top of it. When he tries to make it run too much, that's when it starts to flatten out."

McClendon currently has 11 pitchers in his bullpen, however, and will add Young to the mix in the final days if needed. He's not worried that the group is running down at season's end as youngsters Carson Smith and Brandon Mauer have emerged as viable right-handed setup men to supplement Medina, Danny Farquhar and Tom Wilhelmsen in that role.

"We have a great bullpen," he said. "I've had options all year. I'm not afraid to use any of them in any situation. I've done it all year."

Greg Johns is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.