Hells Bells going silent? Trevor Hoffman blows another save

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Trevor Hoffman’s first save opportunity since May 7 did not go well this afternoon. He came in to face the Reds with a 4-2 lead in the bottom of the ninth inning and this happened:
Paul Janish single.
Scott Rolen homer.
Chris Heisey double.
Brandon Phillips walk.
Joey Votto single.
Game over.
Hoffman now has a hideous 13.15 ERA, allowing 19 earned runs in 13 innings. To put that into some context, he hasn’t allowed more than 19 earned runs in a season since way back in 2002. He’s also blown five saves in 10 opportunities after going 37-for-41 last season.
I’ve been slower than many people to declare Hoffman toast because a) he’s been so great for so long, and b) his mid-80s fastball has led to premature burials in the past. With that said, serving up seven homers and 15 total extra-base hits in 13 innings sure seems to shout that the fastball-changeup combo that has baffled hitters for so long is just no longer fooling anyone.
Obviously the first step is a demotion from closer to middle reliever, perhaps giving Hoffman a chance to get on track in low-leverage situations. However, whether he’s working the ninth inning or the sixth inning a few more ugly outings and the Brewers will have no choice but to start thinking about simply cutting bait.
Much like watching Ken Griffey Jr. flail away in Seattle, it’s sad to see one of the greatest relievers of all time get knocked around like he’s throwing batting practice. Maybe the future first-ballot Hall of Famers can stage a dual retirement at midseason.

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.