According to Donnie Collins of the Scranton Times-Tribune, the Yankees have released Russell Branyan.
Don’t feel bad if you forgot Branyan was with the Yankees. I know I did. The veteran slugger hooked on with the Bombers on a minor league deal over the winter, but was limited to just 33 games with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre this season due to, you guessed it, back problems. The 36-year-old was productive when in the lineup, hitting .309/.348/.645 with 11 home runs, 39 RBI and a 1.093 OPS in 33 games, but didn’t play another game after July 6.
The free-swinging Branyan owns a lowly .236 batting average over 14 major league seasons, but he has also amassed 194 home runs and an .814 OPS. However, given his age and constant back issues, we have probably seen the last of him in the big leagues.
Manager Bud Black has tabbed Jon Gray to start on Opening Day for the Rockies. That will be Monday, April 3 in Milwaukee against the Brewers in an afternoon contest.
Gray, 25, is starting Opening Day for the first time in his career. He’ll be the sixth different Rockies pitcher to start Opening Day in as many years.
The Rockies and Gray had a bit of a scare on Friday as he left his spring training start with discomfort in his left foot, but everything came up clean in an MRI. He pitched again on Wednesday with no issue.
Last season, Gray went 10-10 with a 4.61 ERA and a 185/59 K/BB ratio in 168 innings. A consensus top prospect entering each of the previous three seasons, Gray surprisingly put up better numbers at Coors Field — the most hitter-friendly park in baseball — than away.
Today Washington Nationals manager Dusty Baker named Blake Treinen as his closer. Treinen has saved exactly one big league game.
There wasn’t necessarily an obvious choice, however. Last year Washington had Mark Melancon, but with him gone and GM Mike Rizzo’s failure to land a high-profile closer in the offseason, it became a contest between Treinen Shawn Kelley and Koda Glover.
Treinen posted a 2.28 ERA with 31 walks and 63 Ks in 67 innings in 2016. His big improvement last year came against lefties, who had tattooed him in the past. He pitched well this spring as well, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything.
The Nats are our favorites to win the NL East, but we do have some questions about the pen. Blake Treinen will take the first crack at answering them.