Aroldis Chapman Getty

Aroldis Chapman continues to dominate out of the bullpen

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After striking out two over a scoreless inning in yesterday’s win over the Cubs, Aroldis Chapman has now worked nine scoreless innings in six relief appearances this season. Given that the Reds considered using him as a starter during spring training, this is a pretty appropriate time to look at his overall numbers. And yes, they are nothing short of fantastic.

Chapman has allowed just three hits (two singles and a triple) and no walks. It’s a stunning turnaround for someone who averaged 7.4 BB/9 last year and didn’t go more than five consecutive appearances without issuing a walk. Equally impressive, he has fanned 17 of the 30 batters he has faced this year, which means he has a strikeout percentage of 56.7 percent. Granted, we’re talking about a small sample size here, but Dodgers’ reliever Kenley Jansen led the majors with a 44 percent strikeout percentage last year.

Chapman has averaged 96.5 mph on his fastball, down a couple ticks from what we’ve seen in the past, but sacrificing a little heat has clearly done wonders for his command. And with a swinging strike rate of 21.5 percent, his fastball and hard-biting slider are still plenty good enough to put batters away.

As for Chapman finally getting his chance as a starter, well, nothing appears imminent. Mike Leake and Homer Bailey are the most vulnerable to get the boot, but they’ll likely get a handful of starts before any changes are made, especially with set-up man Nick Masset still on the disabled list with a right shoulder injury. Bailey, who is out of options, allowed four runs (one earned) over seven innings yesterday and has a 3.86 ERA over his first three starts. Leake, who will start today against the Cubs, has allowed eight runs in 12 1/3 innings (5.84 ERA) over his first two starts.

Braves ink Blaine Boyer to a minor league deal

DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 2:  Relief pitcher Blaine Boyer #48 of the Milwaukee Brewers delivers to home plate during the seventh inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on October 2, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
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The Braves have signed reliever Blaine Boyer to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reports. Bowman adds that the right-hander has a “good chance” to make the Braves’ bullpen out of spring training.

Boyer, 35, spent the past season with the Brewers, finishing with a 3.95 ERA and a 26/17 K/BB ratio in 66 innings.

Boyer, of course, started his professional baseball career with the Braves as they selected him in the third round of the 2000 draft. Since the Braves traded him in 2009, Boyer has pitched for the Cardinals, Diamondbacks, Mets, Padres, and Twins along with the Brewers.

Report: Rays nearing a deal with Shawn Tolleson

ST. LOUIS, MO - JUNE 18: Reliever Shawn Tolleson #37 of the Texas Rangers pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals in the eighth inning at Busch Stadium on June 18, 2016 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
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Update (6:48 PM EST): Topkin reports the contract will be of the major league variety.

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Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that the Rays and free agent reliever Shawn Tolleson are close to finalizing a contract.

Tolleson, who turns 29 years old on Thursday, had an ugly 2016 season, finishing with a 7.68 ERA and a 29/10 K/BB ratio in 36 1/3 innings. He was one of the Rangers’ best relievers in the two seasons prior to that, however, which included saving 35 games in 2015.