The Astros have made Brett Myers their new closer

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This is unexpected: the Houston Astros have moved Brett Myers out of the rotation and have made him their new closer. Announced it this morning.

This is not an unprecedented role for Myers. He was the Phillies closer for most of the 2007 season, moving back to the rotation after they picked up Brad Lidge.  As a closer he went 5-5 with 21 saves and a 2.87 ERA.  That season he struck out 10.9 batters per nine innings, so it seems that he was cool with pressing down on the accelerator in a new role.  Of course, overall his K-rate is way down now from where it was when he was a starter before the last conversion, so it would be tough to expect that kind of thing again. What a drag it is gettin’ old, you know.

The stated rationale here is that with Brandon Lyon trying to come back from shoulder surgery (good luck with that) and no other experienced hands on deck, Myers’ experience makes him the best option.  A secondary rationale, likely considered but not stated, is that if Myers can save a handful of games in the first half, Houston could flip him to a contender with a closer crisis.

I have no idea if it will work, but it’s just another example of the Jeff Luhnow and Brad Mills’ creative thinking with the new-look Houston Astros.

Report: Shohei Ohtani has sprained UCL in pitching elbow

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The Angels signed Japanese superstar Shohei Ohtani for a $2.3 million signing bonus last weekend. They may have damaged goods on their hands. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports that Ohtani underwent a physical that revealed a first-degree sprain of his ulnar collateral ligament. As a result, he got a platelet-rich plasma injection on October 20. This was made known to teams after Ohtani entered MLB’s posting system, so it wasn’t like the Angels went into this blind.

Ohtani’s report said, “Although partial damage of UCL in deep layer of his right UCL exists, he is able to continue full baseball participation with sufficient elbow care program.” It also said Ohtani “will most likely be available to start his throwing program approximately a month from the PRP.”

Passan notes that the report also mentioned that a “small free body” floats in Ohtani’s elbow near his UCL.

Ohtani isn’t without other injuries. He battled hamstring and ankle issues throughout 2017 and underwent right ankle surgery back in October. Thankfully for the Angels, this diagnosis is about as good as it could be considering the circumstances. However, if Ohtani does exacerbate his UCL issue, he may ultimately need Tommy John surgery at some point, which would take him out of action for at least a year.