Regardless of whether Joakim Soria is able to rest and rehab his damaged ulnar collateral ligament or undergoes season-ending Tommy John surgery the Royals will need a new closer.
Free agent signing Jonathan Broxton is the obvious replacement because of his previous experience in the role, but Greg Holland was great as a rookie setup man last season and manager Ned Yost hasn’t decided yet who will get the nod to replace Soria.
Or at least that’s what Yost told Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star:
They’ve both looked great this spring. We’ll give it time to play out. We could very well use both of them in that situation. I’ve got the confidence to use both of them. I think they both can handle it.
Managers often say they’re willing to use multiple pitchers in the closer role, but rarely do they actually go through with those plans for more than a few save opportunities.
Kansas City paid $4 million to see if Broxton can rediscover his once-dominant raw stuff and pitching coach Dave Eiland told Dutton that the former Dodgers closer has been very impressive while throwing in the mid-90s. Of course, Holland was dominant last year, logging 60 innings with a 1.80 ERA and 74/19 K/BB ratio while averaging 94.9 miles per hour with his fastball.
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.
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.