Phillies designate reliever J.C. Romero for assignment

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J.C. Romero has been in the Phillies’ bullpen for the past four-and-a-half seasons, but today they designated him for assignment to make room on the roster for tomorrow’s starter, Vance Worley.

Romero remains very effective against left-handed hitters, but his inability to be even decent against right-handed hitters and overall struggles to throw the ball over the plate have severely limited his usefulness.

During the past three-plus seasons he’s held lefties to a .185 batting average, including .208 this season, but righties have gotten on base at a .431 clip against Romero that basically limits him to left-handed specialist duties. Toss in his 92 walks in 128 innings during that time and letting him go, while surprising, isn’t much of a loss for the Phillies’ bullpen.

Plus, there’s a decent chance Romero will pass through waivers unclaimed anyway, as taking on the remainder of his $1.35 million contract may scare teams off if the southpaw’s performance hadn’t already.

Jon Gray will start Opening Day for the Rockies

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Manager Bud Black has tabbed Jon Gray to start on Opening Day for the Rockies. That will be Monday, April 3 in Milwaukee against the Brewers in an afternoon contest.

Gray, 25, is starting Opening Day for the first time in his career. He’ll be the sixth different Rockies pitcher to start Opening Day in as many years.

The Rockies and Gray had a bit of a scare on Friday as he left his spring training start with discomfort in his left foot, but everything came up clean in an MRI. He pitched again on Wednesday with no issue.

Last season, Gray went 10-10 with a 4.61 ERA and a 185/59 K/BB ratio in 168 innings. A consensus top prospect entering each of the previous three seasons, Gray surprisingly put up better numbers at Coors Field — the most hitter-friendly park in baseball — than away.

Blake Treinen named Nationals closer

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Today Washington Nationals manager Dusty Baker named Blake Treinen as his closer. Treinen has saved exactly one big league game.

There wasn’t necessarily an obvious choice, however. Last year Washington had Mark Melancon, but with him gone and GM Mike Rizzo’s failure to land a high-profile closer in the offseason, it became a contest between Treinen Shawn Kelley and Koda Glover.

Treinen posted a 2.28 ERA with 31 walks and 63 Ks in 67 innings in 2016. His big improvement last year came against lefties, who had tattooed him in the past. He pitched well this spring as well, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything.

The Nats are our favorites to win the NL East, but we do have some questions about the pen. Blake Treinen will take the first crack at answering them.