Halladay, Downs added to crowded Jays' DL

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On the same day that their trainer was awarded a trip to the All-Star
Game, the Jays placed three more pitchers on the disabled list: Roy
Halladay (groin), Casey Janssen (shoulder) and Scott Downs (toe).

Those three join fellow pitchers Jesse Litsch, Shaun Marcum, Dustin
McGowan and Robert Ray on the shelf for Toronto. The offense has
actually stayed remarkably healthy, with only backup catcher Michael
Barrett missing significant time due to injury. The Jays, though, are
missing four legitimate major league starters, two more guys who have
spent time in their rotation this year and a reliever who appeared in
line for an All-Star appearance.

Fortunately, Halladay is expected to miss the minimum two starts.
Janssen, who missed last year following shoulder surgery, may have been
bounced from the rotation if the Jays didn’t have reason to put him
back on the DL. Brad Mills is coming up to replace him and will make
his major league debut Thursday.

Mills, a 2007 fourth-round pick, gets his promotion despite starting
off 1-8 in Triple-A. He had a 4.48 ERA, which is actually quite good
for a Las Vegas pitcher. Still, as a modest flyball pitcher without a
true strikeout pitch, he could have a rough adjustment period ahead of
him. I think Brett Cecil would have been the better choice to step in,
but Cecil might follow him as the starting in Halladay’s place on
Saturday.

Downs was hurt Tuesday, when he stumbled out of the box while
grounding out in his first at-bat since 2004. He only hit because the
Jays scored five runs in the top of the 10th. He was the ninth and
final batter of that inning, and the plan was to send him back out for
the 10th, though the injury forced his removal.

The Jays now have a tough decision on whether to go back to B.J.
Ryan in the closer’s role. Ryan hasn’t allowed a run in any of his last
eight appearances, though he’s been pitching mostly in losing causes.
His stuff still isn’t nearly what it was last year. However, he does
have the experience, and as bad as he pitched in April, he never
actually cost the Jays a game. Both of his blown saves came in games
the Jays went on to win.

If performance to date this year is all that matters, then Jason
Frasor becomes the immediate favorite for saves in Toronto. Still, it
would make sense for Cito Gaston to pick his spots and give Ryan the
occasional chance in the ninth. The Jays need to figure out whether
Ryan is going to be a valuable piece in the pen going forward.

Braves ink Blaine Boyer to a minor league deal

DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 2:  Relief pitcher Blaine Boyer #48 of the Milwaukee Brewers delivers to home plate during the seventh inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on October 2, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
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The Braves have signed reliever Blaine Boyer to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reports. Bowman adds that the right-hander has a “good chance” to make the Braves’ bullpen out of spring training.

Boyer, 35, spent the past season with the Brewers, finishing with a 3.95 ERA and a 26/17 K/BB ratio in 66 innings.

Boyer, of course, started his professional baseball career with the Braves as they selected him in the third round of the 2000 draft. Since the Braves traded him in 2009, Boyer has pitched for the Cardinals, Diamondbacks, Mets, Padres, and Twins along with the Brewers.

Report: Rays nearing a deal with Shawn Tolleson

ST. LOUIS, MO - JUNE 18: Reliever Shawn Tolleson #37 of the Texas Rangers pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals in the eighth inning at Busch Stadium on June 18, 2016 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
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Update (6:48 PM EST): Topkin reports the contract will be of the major league variety.

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Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that the Rays and free agent reliever Shawn Tolleson are close to finalizing a contract.

Tolleson, who turns 29 years old on Thursday, had an ugly 2016 season, finishing with a 7.68 ERA and a 29/10 K/BB ratio in 36 1/3 innings. He was one of the Rangers’ best relievers in the two seasons prior to that, however, which included saving 35 games in 2015.