Walden secure in closing role

Walden secure in closing role

Walden secure in closing role
ARLINGTON -- Angels manager Mike Scioscia made it clear after Jordan Walden's command issues on Saturday night that the young Texan is still the team's closer and is not bowing to late-season pressures.

"It's not about pressure at all," Scioscia said. "This guy has the makeup to put it all on the line. He's had success and a few that fell through the cracks. It's all part of the process. You have to understand hitters and how they adjust to you.

"We'll monitor some things. We have guys in the back of the bullpen who are important to us, and we're going to go to them."

That back-end unit is comprised of veteran southpaws Scott Downs and Hisanori Takahashi, veteran right-hander Fernando Rodney and Walden.

An All-Star choice in his first season as a closer, Walden has had his ups and downs. He blew consecutive save opportunities, six days apart against the Blue Jays and Orioles, and is 26-for-35 for the season in rescue attempts. He departed Saturday night's game with a four-run lead after loading the bases with one out in the ninth, Takahashi claiming the save.

"He was caught between being too fine early and getting aggressive early in counts," Scioscia said. "It's a little different thing throwing 97 to contact than throwing 87. He's got a little more margin for error, but he still has to get in the zone in decent spots. He has to be able to make pitches with his secondary pitches."

Walden's toughness under pressure is underscored by his performance with two outs and runners in scoring position. Hitters are 4-for-28 (.143) against him. He has struck out 12 and walked one in those high-leverage situations.

When he's putting his 97-100 mph heater in good spots and complementing it with his biting slider and occasional changeup, he is as dominant as any closer in the game.

"I always have confidence in my ability," Walden said. "That's not going to change."