No longer closing, Trevor Hoffman quietly turns things around

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Trevor Hoffman allowed three runs on May 18, blowing his fifth save in 10 chances as his ERA rose to 13.15. He was stripped of ninth-inning duties and given four days off, with 27-year-old rookie John Axford grabbing hold of the Brewers’ closer job.
Axford has converted 11-of-11 save chances with a 2.96 ERA in 27.1 innings, so Hoffman reclaiming the job hasn’t even been an issue, but the all-time saves leader has quietly gotten back on track in a low-leverage role.
Since that blown save on May 18 he’s appeared in 16 games (none of them save situations) and has allowed a run in just three of them. Hoffman has a 3.38 ERA in 16 innings, striking out 10 batters and allowing opponents to hit just .241 with one homer and a .345 slugging percentage.
None of which will get him back in the closer role, but at least the 42-year-old future Hall of Famer is pitching well enough to go out on his own terms now rather than the ugly end he was on a path for early this season.

David Phelps to undergo Tommy John surgery

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Pitcher David Phelps has a torn UCL and will undergo Tommy John surgery, ending his 2018 season, the Mariners announced on Wednesday. Phelps was making brief one-inning stints in the Cactus League as he worked his way back from a procedure to remove a bone spur from his elbow last September. He said he felt the ligament tear on his final pitch against the Angels in his March 17 appearance.

Phelps, 31, was expected to set up for closer Edwin Diaz. The right-hander, between the Marlins and Mariners last season, posted a 3.40 ERA with a 62/26 K/BB ratio in 55 2/3 innings. He and the Mariners avoided arbitration in January, agreeing on a $5.55 million salary for the 2018 campaign. Phelps will become eligible to become a free agent at the end of the season.

As the Mariners noted in their statement, the expected recovery period for Tommy John surgery is 12-15 months, so this very likely cuts into Phelps’ 2019 season as well.