Injuries wrecking Orioles' already shaky bullpen

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Later today Alfredo Simon will likely become the third Orioles closer to land on the disabled list, joining Mike Gonzalez and Jim Johnson on the shelf after injuring his hamstring covering first base Sunday.
Koji Uehara would have gotten the nod to fill in, except he’s also headed to the DL with a strained forearm. Baltimore didn’t exactly have great bullpen depth even before all the injuries hit, and with five relievers out Will Ohman and Cla Meredith are suddenly atop the depth chart.
Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com guesses that Ohman will “move into the majority of save situations, given that he’s been the Orioles most reliable reliever and, according to manager Dave Trembley earlier this week, would relish the role.” Ohman has a 0.00 ERA in 15 innings this season, so they might as well give him first crack at ninth-inning duties, but he’s also a 32-year-old who had a 4.25 career ERA prior to 2010.
Triple-A closer Frank Mata is expected to join the mix soon, but aside from his save total at Norfolk there’s little to suggest he has a bright future as a late-inning option. Mata didn’t reach Triple-A until this season despite being 26 years old, in large part because he had a 4.92 ERA and terrible 110/74 K/BB ratio in 157 innings at Double-A.
Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun speculates that David Hernandez could be shifted from the rotation to the bullpen, which is perhaps the most interesting scenario. Hernandez has struggled as a starter, going 5-15 with a 5.39 ERA, but a mid-90s fastball and high strikeout totals in the minors suggest he could thrive as a one-inning reliever. Plus, bumping Hernandez from the rotation could lead to the Orioles calling up Chris Tillman or fellow top prospect Jake Arieta.

Anibal Sanchez accepts optional assignment to Triple-A

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The Tigers announced on Monday that pitcher Anibal Sanchez has accepted an optional assignment to Triple-A Toledo. Pitcher Warwick Saupold was recalled from Toledo to take Sanchez’s roster spot.

Sanchez, 33, continued to struggle this season pitching out of the bullpen. He gave up 26 runs (21 earned) on 34 hits and nine walks with 22 strikeouts in 21 innings. Nine of those 34 hits were home runs. Sanchez finished the 2015 season with a 4.99 ERA and last season with a 5.87 ERA, so he’s had a rough go of it in recent years.

The decision to go to Triple-A was Sanchez’s, Anthony Fenech of the Free Press reports. Sanchez wants to be stretched out as a starting pitcher again.

Braves release James Loney

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Just a few days after inking him to a minor league deal, the Braves have released first baseman James Loney, the team announced on Monday. Loney became expendable when the Braves acquired Matt Adams from the Cardinals on Saturday as a replacement for the injured Freddie Freeman.

Loney, 33, appeared in two games at Triple-A Gwinnett. He had one hit, a single, and one walk in eight plate appearances.

Loney will likely have to wait for another team to deal with an injured first baseman or DH before he can secure another contract.