Struggles continue for Johansen and Cordero out of the pen

Jimmy Cordero has seen his ERA balloon to 21.54 (Samuel Getty / Harrisburg Senators)

The early April beginning to the baseball season usually uncovers things that can be improved as the weather begins to turn warmer. For the Harrisburg Senators that has included situational hitting, shoring up the defense at times, and most notably the bullpen.

Over the season’s first 17 games, Harrisburg relievers have a cumulative 5.72 ERA over 56.2 innings of work. But upon closer inspection, much of that can be attributed to two pitchers: Jake Johansen and Jimmy Cordero. Without their numbers in the calculations, Senators’ relievers work at a very respectable earned run average of 3.05 with a 1.38 WHIP.

Johansen and Cordero were both called upon on Monday night out of the Senators pen in relief of starter Jaron Long. It was more of the same from them as turned a 2-1 game into a 9-1 laugher in favor of the Reading Fightin’ Phils.

“It got away from us there at the end,” manager Matt LeCroy said.

For Johansen, 2017 marks his first season at Double-A after four years in the lower levels of the Nationals system. The second round draft pick has struggled at Potomac the last two seasons and put up inflated numbers, but a strong showing against top prospects in last year’s Arizona Fall League helped ticket him for Harrisburg.

Johansen worked a commanding sixth frame on Monday night as the 26-year-old righthander struck out Mitch Walding and Jiandido Tromp before retiring Malquin Canelo on a routine groundout. But Johansen ran into trouble in his second inning of work as Kyle Martin punctuated the scoring with a two run home run to push the Reading advantage to four runs.

“It’s a tough league when you come up here and struggle because there is no wiggle room,” LeCroy added.

Cordero, on the other hand, is an Eastern League veteran. The 25-year-old fireballer was a member of the Fisher Cats and Fightin’ Phils the past two seasons before being acquired by the Nationals in a trade last November.

He has allowed at least one run in five of his six outings this season and opponents are batting .483 off the righthander. But it’s his last three appearances, including surrendering a grand slam on Monday, that are the ones I’m sure he’d like to forget. In only two combined innings, Cordero has allowed 14 runs on ten hits and seven walks.

“It’s just been a struggle for the both of them right now. That’s why they’re here,” LeCroy said. “We’ve got to do a better job of coaching them up and hopefully give them a chance.”

“We have to get those two guys right where they feel confident and comfortable.”

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