Alfredo Simon took over closer duties in Baltimore when he was called up from Triple-A in late April, converting 15 of 17 save chances with a 3.40 ERA and .248 opponents’ batting average through his first 30 appearances.
However, he’s struggled lately, blowing two saves and allowing seven runs in his last six games, and not surprisingly new manager Buck Showalter is already talking about making some changes in the ninth inning:
I’m sure Simon will get some more opportunities along the way, but I feel like we have some other people capable of doing it other than him. We’ll see what each night dictates. Some guys down there have shown that they are capable of getting big outs for us. He has above-average pitches but he’s still got to locate them, too. Guys can turn around a bullet up here.
Koji Uehara is the most obvious non-Simon option to close and then there’s Mike Gonzalez, who was signed to be the closer this offseason and has pitched reasonably well since returning from the disabled list late last month.
It was assumed already, but Mike Scioscia made it official during Monday’s press conference for new general manager Billy Eppler that he will return as Angels manager in 2016.
Scioscia, the longest-tenured manager in the majors, has been at the helm with the Angels since 2000. There was a clause in his contract which allowed him to opt out after the 2015 season, but he has decided to stay put. He still has three years and $15 million on his contract, which runs through 2018.
Jerry Dipoto resigned as Angels general manager in July amid tension with Scioscia, so there were naturally questions today about what to expect with first-time GM Eppler in the fold. According to David Adler of MLB.com, Scioscia isn’t concerned.
“I think we’re going to mesh very well,” Scioscia said. “If we adjust, or maybe he adjusts to some of the things, there’s going to be collaboration that’s going to make us better.”
Eppler is the fourth general manager during Scioscia’s tenure with the team.
After winning the AL West last season, the Angels finished 85-77 this season and narrowly missed the playoffs. The team hasn’t won a postseason game since 2009.
Astros center fielder Carlos Gomez sat out the final series of the regular season in order to rest a strained left intercostal muscle, but there was good news coming out of a workout today in advance of Tuesday’s Wild Card game vs. the Yankees.
This has been a lingering issue for Gomez, who missed 13 straight games with the injury last month. He aggravated the strain on a throw to home plate last Wednesday and was forced to sit while the Astros fought to keep their season alive. Astros manager A.J. Hinch told reporters last week that Gomez’s injury would typically take 45-50 days to recover from, so it’s fair to wonder how productive he can be during the postseason.
Gomez mostly struggled after coming over from the Brewers at the trade deadline, batting .242 with four home runs and a .670 OPS over 41 games.