PITTSBURGH -- The Marlins are swapping out one hard-throwing right-handed reliever for another. On Saturday afternoon, the club announced Brian Ellington was optioned to Triple-A New Orleans and Drew Steckenrider was recalled from New Orleans.The two are among the hardest throwers in the organization, but Ellington is being sent down
PITTSBURGH -- The Marlins are swapping out one hard-throwing right-handed reliever for another. On Saturday afternoon, the club announced Brian Ellington was optioned to Triple-A New Orleans and Drew Steckenrider was recalled from New Orleans.
The two are among the hardest throwers in the organization, but Ellington is being sent down due to stretches of wildness. The 26-year-old has struggled throwing strikes in recent outings.
In Friday night's 12-7 win at the Pirates, Ellington entered in the ninth inning, with Miami ahead by seven runs. But he walked the first two batters he faced and was lifted with the bases loaded and no outs.
"It was hard to trust that you could bring him in and he was going to throw strikes," manager Don Mattingly said. "It's not that he was always going to get outs. The fact that he wasn't challenging the strike zone and making them have to earn their way, that's the part that got a little bit rough."
Ellington was eventually charged with two runs and Nick Wittgren recorded the final three outs, with closer A.J. Ramos warmed up for a save chance just in case.
Ellington has been up and down on a few occasions this season, and in 11 2/3 innings with Miami, he's struck out 18 and walked 13. His WHIP is 2.74.
Ellington has a power arm, with his four-seam fastball averaging 97.39 mph. But in three appearances in June, he's been tagged for nine runs on seven hits, with four walks and two strikeouts in 1 1/3 innings.
Steckenrider, 26, ranked by MLBPipeline.com as the Marlins' No. 8 prospect, is getting his second big league callup. The right-hander had a brief stint in late May after David Phelps was placed on MLB's bereavement list.
Steckenrider threw one scoreless inning on May 24 at Oakland. The right-hander's fastball averaged 96.14 mph in his lone big league game.
At New Orleans, Steckenrider appeared in 20 games. In 27 1/3 innings, he posted 33 strikeouts and eight walks, with a WHIP of 0.77.
"He's a guy who can throw the ball over the plate," Mattingly said. "He's always been a guy who can locate a fastball. Obviously, he is another guy that will be continually working on secondary stuff. At this point, he's locating fastballs. That's a different animal. He's a guy who we feel like is going to be able to throw strikes."
Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.