As soon as news broke of Ryan Madson needing season-ending Tommy John elbow surgery the assumption was that the Reds would move setup man Sean Marshall into the closer role, but manager Dusty Baker apparently hasn’t made up his mind yet.
Baker told Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com that he’s “been getting that question from all my friends, family, and people in restaurants” but “we have to talk to the guys” because “you just don’t throw somebody in that role.”
Bill Bray, Nick Masset, and Aroldis Chapman are the other closer candidates, but Marshall is clearly the Reds’ best reliever and one of the best relievers in all of baseball, closer experience or not. In two seasons as a full-time reliever Marshall threw 150 innings with a 2.45 ERA and 169/42 K/BB ratio, holding opponents to a .222 batting average and just four homers. If that isn’t closer material, I don’t know what is.
Royals’ Opening Day starter Danny Duffy weathered a minor scare during Saturday’s Cactus League game against the Diamondbacks. The left-hander was removed from his final spring training start after experiencing some left shoulder tightness in the second and third innings. No lasting damage appears to have been done — Duffy told reporters that he simply felt a slight ache, nothing more — and it looks like he’ll remain on track to open the season with the team next Thursday.
The 29-year-old southpaw is coming off one of his best performances to date. Despite losing a few weeks to an oblique strain and elbow soreness, he went 9-10 in 24 starts and finished the 2017 season with a 3.81 ERA, 2.5 BB/9 and 8.0 SO/9 over 146 1/3 innings. While Duffy entered camp with a clean bill of health, he struggled to execute against his spring training opponents and racked up 13 runs, four homers, seven walks and 11 strikeouts in 13 innings of Cactus League play.
The Royals are scheduled to kick off their home opener against the White Sox on Thursday, March 29 at 4:15 PM ET. Barring any further complications with his shoulder, Duffy will take the mound for the Royals, while James Shields is expected to make his first Opening Day appearance for the White Sox.