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.

Brandon McCarthy wins final spot in Dodgers’ rotation

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We learned on Monday that Hyun-Jin Ryu won one of the final two spots in the Dodgers’ starting rotation. Brandon McCarthy has won the other, Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register reports. Alex Wood was McCarthy’s competitor for the spot.

McCarthy, 33, posted a 4.85 ERA across four appearances spanning 13 innings this spring, yielding seven earned runs on 14 hits and a walk with seven strikeouts. Wood, a southpaw, gave up five earned runs in six innings against the Reds on Tuesday, which might have factored into the decision.

Last season, McCarthy made nine starts and one relief appearance, posting a 4.95 ERA with a 44/26 K/BB ratio in 40 innings. In the event McCarthy falters, the club has Wood as well as Julio Urias and the injured Scott Kazmir as potential replacements.

Yankees re-sign Jon Niese to a minor league deal

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The Yankees have re-signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, George A. King III of the New York Post reports. Niese was released on Sunday, but he’ll stick around and provide rotation depth for the Yankees.

Niese had knee surgery last August and got a late start to spring training as a result. In six spring appearances lasting an inning each, the lefty gave up three earned runs on five hits and a walk with five strikeouts.

Niese, a veteran of nine seasons, put up an aggregate 5.50 ERA with an 88/47 K/BB ratio in 121 innings last season between the Pirates and Mets.