It never really took the first time, but Heath Bell’s latest blown save on Sunday has caused the Marlins to again try a closer-by-committee.
Bell, who was signed to a three-year, $27 million deal in the offseason, has blown two of his last four save chances and six of 25 for the season. Those totals don’t include the four-run lead he blew on June 25, since that wasn’t a save situation.
Steve Cishek could be the favorite for saves in Miami for now, but the Marlins are just two weeks away from getting ex-closer Juan Oviedo back from suspension. The former Leo Nunez missed the first couple of months with visa troubles and is currently finishing up his 50-game suspension for lying about his identity. If Bell hasn’t righted the ship when Oviedo returns on July 23, odds are Oviedo will get a shot at the closer’s role.
As for Bell, well, some of the blame may go on Ozzie Guillen here. Bell was working on a string of 10 straight scoreless appearances before the ugly four-run outing two weeks ago. His two blown saves since came during a span in which he pitched seven times in nine days.
The Angels signed Japanese superstar Shohei Ohtani for a $2.3 million signing bonus last weekend. They may have damaged goods on their hands. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports that Ohtani underwent a physical that revealed a first-degree sprain of his ulnar collateral ligament. As a result, he got a platelet-rich plasma injection on October 20. This was made known to teams after Ohtani entered MLB’s posting system, so it wasn’t like the Angels went into this blind.
Ohtani’s report said, “Although partial damage of UCL in deep layer of his right UCL exists, he is able to continue full baseball participation with sufficient elbow care program.” It also said Ohtani “will most likely be available to start his throwing program approximately a month from the PRP.”
Passan notes that the report also mentioned that a “small free body” floats in Ohtani’s elbow near his UCL.
Ohtani isn’t without other injuries. He battled hamstring and ankle issues throughout 2017 and underwent right ankle surgery back in October. Thankfully for the Angels, this diagnosis is about as good as it could be considering the circumstances. However, if Ohtani does exacerbate his UCL issue, he may ultimately need Tommy John surgery at some point, which would take him out of action for at least a year.