Link-O-Rama: Jepsen going through 'a dead arm period'

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* Kevin Jepsen has emerged as the go-to guy in the Angels’ bullpen, but the rookie has been unavailable all week because of “a dead arm period.” As the right-hander with a 1.87 ERA since the All-Star break put it: “My shoulder is tired. I really don’t know how to explain it, but just throwing the ball you can tell it’s just … the ball feels a little heavier.”
* Pedro Martinez threw off flat ground yesterday and reportedly sounded “optimistic” about making his scheduled start Saturday against the Brewers. Martinez exited his last start after three innings with a sore neck and hasn’t thrown off a mound since.
* I’ve written a couple articles recently about why it makes little sense to get worked up about hitter strikeouts, and here’s a perfect example: John Romano of the St. Petersburg Times notes in today’s column that “Tampa Bay is on pace to score a franchise record 803 runs” and then in the very next sentence declares that “the Rays strike out too much.” So they’ve scored more runs than any team in franchise history, but we should be worried about what type of outs they made?
* Braves prospect Todd Richmond tossed eight shutout innings yesterday as the United States defeated Puerto Rico to earn a spot in the World Cup championship game, where they’ll face Cuba.

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.