DENVER -- Kyle Barraclough has staked a claim for unequivocal ownership of the ninth inning, excelling in his new role as the Marlins' closer. He pitched a perfect ninth in Saturday's 6-2 win over the Rockies, extending a career-high run of 17 2/3 scoreless innings, and he hasn't allowed a hit
DENVER -- Kyle Barraclough has staked a claim for unequivocal ownership of the ninth inning, excelling in his new role as the Marlins' closer. He pitched a perfect ninth in Saturday's 6-2 win over the Rockies, extending a career-high run of 17 2/3 scoreless innings, and he hasn't allowed a hit in his last 10 2/3 innings pitched.
In 12 appearances in the ninth inning or later, he has a 0.00 ERA and has allowed no hits and four walks while striking out 16, and since May 1 he has limited opponents to a .032 average against (2-for-63), leading the Majors.
"He's been good," manager Don Mattingly said of the success Barraclough's had since taking on the closer's role. "He was good before that. We wouldn't have put him in that role if he wasn't good. His fastball command has improved. He's getting ahead in the count. Obviously, he's added the changeup, that's another thought for the hitter."
For the season, Barraclough's pitched hitless ball in 27 of his 34 appearances, and 30 of those outings have been scoreless. He leads all relievers with a .084 batting average against and is fourth among National League relievers with a 1.08 ERA for the season.
"His stuff's always been good," Mattingly said. "He didn't use his slider as much, he uses it more as a weapon [now]. Before he was using it to get back in the count. So now there's really three pitches that he's working with."
Marlins cautious with Rojas
Miguel Rojas was out of the Marlins' lineup for a second consecutive day in Sunday's series finale in Colorado with a left hand contusion. Rojas was hit by a pitch on June 15 in Baltimore and missed the next two games. He made four consecutive starts after that, going 8-for-15 (.533) before Mattingly scratched him from Saturday's start.
"Miggy's better today," Mattingly said before Sunday's rubber match. "He swung the bat. He'd be available for use today. Just trying to be careful with him. Obviously, he got hit pretty good. Came back and played, and then some more swelling came, so we haven't had a chance to get an MRI or a CAT scan or anything to make sure there's not something in there real fine, but he came back today, felt fine. I'd use him today, just try and stay away from him if I can."
Bour pouring it on in the pinch
Justin Bour has been setting the standard for pinch-hitting, going 4-for-7 with three homers and seven RBIs in the role this season.
"There's definitely a different mentality in pinch-hitting," Mattingly said. "He's got a pretty good swing, a pretty good idea of what he wants to do up there. It's usually a pretty good spot for a guy like him. You're always going to try to get him up there in a spot where he can drive in a run and they have to pitch to him. He's taken advantage of those situations. He's always dangerous off the bench."
Rotation set, for now
Mattingly confirmed his starting pitchers over the next two days. Dan Straily is set to pitch Monday while he waits for the appeal process to begin regarding his suspension for hitting Buster Posey with a pitch in San Francisco last Tuesday, and Elieser Hernandez will pitch Tuesday in place of Jose Urena, who went on the disabled list with right shoulder impingement retroactive to Thursday.
Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com based in Denver.