Sergio Santos is still a few weeks from returning from a shoulder injury, but Francisco Cordero’s time filling in for him as the Blue Jays’ closer is over now.
Cordero’s latest ugly outing last night involved blowing his third save in five tries, leaving him with a 9.53 ERA, and the Blue Jays have stripped him of closing duties in favor of Casey Janssen.
And it sounds like Cordero has essentially been demoted to mop-up man, with Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com reporting that the Blue Jays will use Jason Frasor, Darren Oliver, and Luis Perez as Janssen’s setup men.
Cordero saved 37 games with a 2.45 ERA for the Reds last season, but his velocity was down and his strikeout rate plummeted to a career-low 5.4 per nine innings. He couldn’t find a closing job as a free agent, settling for a one-year, $4.5 million setup man deal from the Blue Jays.
Janssen has just nine career saves, including no more than two in any of the past four years, but if the first six weeks of this season has taught us anything it’s that being a “proven closer” doesn’t mean a damn thing.
Terrible, terrible news: Christian Moreno of ESPN reports that Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura has been killed in an automobile accident in the Dominican Republic. His death has been confirmed by police. He was only 25 years-old. There are as of yet no details about the accident.
Ventura was a four-year veteran, having debuted in 2013 but truly bursting onto the scene for the Royals in 2014. That year he went 14-10 with a 3.20 ERA in 183 innings, ascending to the national stage along with the entire Royals team with some key performances in that year’s ALDS and World Series. The following year Ventura won 13 games for the World Champion Royals and again appeared in the playoffs and World Series.
Ventura was often in the middle of controversy — he found himself in several controversies arising out of his habit of hitting and brushing back hitters — but he was an undeniably electric young talent who was poised to anchor the Royals rotation for years to come. His loss, like that of Jose Fernandez just this past September, is incalculable to both his team, his fans and to Major League Baseball as a whole.
Our thoughts go out to his family, his friends, his teammates and his fans.
Free agent right-hander Tim Lincecum isn’t ready to hang up his cleats just yet. At least, that’s the word from Lincecum’s agent, Rick Thurman, who says the 32-year-old is still “throwing and getting ready for the season” (via Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News).
Lincecum may not be ready to enter retirement, but another quote from Thurman suggests that he’ll be picky about where he pitches next. He doesn’t appear open to pitching overseas, and despite not having a contract for 2017 (or even any serious suitors), the right-hander is set on pitching in the big leagues this year. Whether or not he’s willing to take a bullpen role to do so remains to be seen.
While Baggarly predicts some interest in the veteran righty, there’s not much in Lincecum’s recent history to inspire faith in him as a starter, or even a reliever. He picked up a one-year, $2.5 million contract with the Angels following his hip surgery in 2015, and went 2-6 in 2016 with a 9.16 ERA, 5.4 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 over 38 1/3 innings. At this point, a minor league contract seems like the surest path back to major league success, though he’s unlikely to find an open spot on the Giants’ or Angels’ rosters anytime soon.