For whatever reason manager Tony La Russa and pitching coach Dave Duncan have been reluctant to actually name a replacement for Ryan Franklin, who was stripped of closing duties last week.
However, after giving Mitchell Boggs three straight save opportunities and watching him handle them successfully while looking very good in the process Duncan finally admitted that Boggs is the Cardinals’ new closer. Well, sort of.
Here’s what he told Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post Dispatch:
I’d say that’s an accurate description of the current situation. Does that mean we will exclusively use him in the ninth inning? Probably not. But he’s going to get an opportunity to see what he can do. I think you present an opportunity and let results take you where they take you.
Perhaps not actually saying “Boggs is the new closer” would make it easier to eventually hand the job back to Franklin, but short of that I’m not sure what the reluctance comes from. Whatever the case Boggs now has a 3.51 ERA in 92 career innings as a reliever, including a 1.46 ERA and 15/3 K/BB ratio in 12 innings so far this season, and his average fastball has clocked in at 94.2 miles per hour.
In related news, Franklin has taken to shaving off his monstrous goatee in an effort to change his luck. He ought to speak to Don Mattingly about the situation.
Jake Arrieta‘s bat is in midseason form already. The Cubs’ ace swatted a solo home run to center field off of Zack Greinke in Thursday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition game, his first homer of the spring.
The blast went 465 feet, according to MLB.com’s Daren Willman.
Arrieta has hit two home runs in each of the past two seasons. Madison Bumgarner (eight) and Noah Syndergaard (four) are the only other pitchers to match or exceed his output in that department.
Greinke, meanwhile, is hoping to bounce back after a miserable 2016 season. He finished with an uncharacteristic 4.37 ERA in 26 starts in his first year with the Diamondbacks.
Angels first baseman Luis Valbuena will miss the next four to six weeks with a strained right hamstring, Pedro Moura of the Los Angeles Times reports.
Valbuena, 31, signed a two-year, $15 million contract with the Angels in January and was on track to get the lion’s share of the playing time at first base. While he’s out, however, C.J. Cron will handle first base on a regular basis. When Valbeuna returns, the two will likely form a platoon.
Last year with the Astros, Valbuena hit a solid .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances.