Strickland recorded his second save in a 5-4 extra-innings win over the Athletics in Tokyo, Japan on Thursday, firing a scoreless 12th inning in which he recorded a strikeout. So far, so good for the Mariners' new closer, who'd also shut the door on the Athletics on Wednesday with a perfect ninth. Manager Scott Servais' patience in deploying Strickland on Thursday paid off handsomely, as he was able to bring in the veteran after Seattle had taken a one-run lead in the top half of the 12th. Strickland was even sharper than he'd been in the opener, needing a scant seven pitches to dispose of Chad Pinder, Nick Hundley and Jurickson Profar.
Strickland pitched a perfect ninth inning and struck out two Wednesday against the A's en route to his first save of the season. He threw 10 of his 15 pitches for strikes and did not allow a baserunner in what may go down as his most statistically impressive save of the season. The expectation with Strickland is that there will be some blowup outings, but the hope is that he spaces them out enough that he can hold the closer's job all season on the rebuilding Mariners.
Strickland (back) worked an inning in a 6-4 exhibition win over the Yomiuri Giants on Saturday in Tokyo, Japan, and had his fastball mph in the mid-to-high 90s, Greg Johns of MLB.com reports. The Mariners' projected closer made good on his proclamation that he was ready to go for the regular season by hitting 96 mph on the gun during his one frame. Strickland fired a scoreless eighth inning during which he allowed a bloop double and recorded a pair of strikeouts. The veteran received effusive praise from manager Scott Servais, who noted how Strickland didn't seem to have any rust after last having pitched March 3. "Hunter threw the ball great today," Servais said. "He had a lot of life on the fastball, his breaking pitch has been outstanding. He's been executing pitches all spring, riding the ball up in the zone deep in counts. It's great to see."
Strickland (back) threw well in Wednesday's intrasquad game and will be available to pitch in the season-opening series against the Athletics in Japan, Greg Johns of MLB.com reports. Strickland hasn't seen Cactus League action since March 3 due to back soreness, but Wednesday's showing was sufficient for manager Scott Servais to confirm the projected closer's availability for the start of the regular season. Strickland is slated to tune up for that first series by pitching in one of the exhibition games Seattle will play against the Yomiuri Giants on March 17 and 18.
Strickland (back) is scheduled to pitch in an intrasquad game Wednesday, Greg Johns of MLB.com reports. Strickland's availability to pitch indicates that he experienced no setbacks during his bullpen session Tuesday. Assuming Wednesday's activity goes well, Strickland should be ready to go for the Mariners' season opener March 20 against the Athletics in Tokyo.