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.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts announced on Monday that Hyun-Jin Ryu will open the regular season in the starting rotation, MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reports.
Ryu, 30, missed the entire 2015 season and made only one start last season due to shoulder and elbow injuries. The lefty has looked solid in three spring appearances, however, yielding a lone run on five hits and a walk with eight strikeouts in nine innings.
With Scott Kazmir likely to begin the season on the disabled list, that leaves Alex Wood and Brandon McCarthy to battle it out for the fifth spot in the Dodgers’ rotation.
Royals outfielder Jorge Soler has been diagnosed with a strained oblique, making it likely that he begins the regular season on the disabled list, Rustin Dodd of The Kansas City Star reports.
The Royals acquired Soler from the Cubs in December in exchange for reliever Wade Davis. Over parts of three seasons with the Cubs, Soler hit .258/.328/.434 with 27 home runs and 98 RBI in 765 plate appearances.
When he’s healthy, Soler is expected to find himself in the Royals’ lineup as a right fielder and occasionally as a designated hitter.