UPDATE: Downs remains on the active roster for now, but the Angels put Hawkins on the DL and replaced him with Triple-A reliever David Pauley.
Just days after the Angels tried to address their struggling bullpen by acquiring hard-throwing right-hander Ernesto Frieri from the Padres they lost closer Scott Downs and setup man LaTroy Hawkins to injuries within the same of three pitches.
Downs injured his left knee reacting to a line drive hit back up the middle, at which point Hawkins came into the game and closed out a 4-3 win by catching a liner and doubling the runner off first base … but broke his right pinkie finger on the play.
There’s no timetables yet for either pitcher’s return, but Hawkins tweeted a picture of his mangled finger afterward and seemed pretty frustrated about his status. Their injuries open the door for demoted former closer Jordan Walden to reclaim ninth-inning duties or manager Mike Scioscia could turn to the newcomer Frieri in save situations already.
Long-time rotation mainstay Tom Koehler was optioned to Triple-A New Orleans on Monday and reliever Hunter Cervenka was recalled, the Marlins announced.
Koehler, 31, made 131 starts out of the Marlins’ rotation over the last five years, but his 12 this season have not been good, so the club hopes he can figure things out with a stint in the minors. He’s carrying a 7.92 ERA with a 44/29 K/BB ratio in 55 2/3 innings. Koehler battled bursitis in his right shoulder in May and June, which may partially explain his struggles.
Cervenka, 27, posted a 4.50 ERA with a 34/21 K/BB ratio in 34 innings of relief with New Orleans. He hasn’t pitched in the majors yet this season, but compiled a 3.53 ERA over 43 1/3 innings in the bigs last year in the Marlins’ bullpen.
At the trade deadline, relief pitching is the name of the game and one of the names clearly available is Pat Neshek. Today Mark Feinsand of MLB.com reports that the Nationals, Dodgers, and Red Sox are among the clubs who are closely scouting the Phillies reliever. Last week Ken Rosenthal reported that the Brewers and Rays were involved as well.
Neshek is an impending free agent, so he may come cheaper than Justin Wilson or some of the other bullpen arms available right now. The All-Star is 36 and is posting a fantastic season, featuring a 1.12 ERA and 45/5 K/BB ratio over 40.1 innings this season.