Heath Bell allows homer in fifth consecutive appearance

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Diamondbacks closer Heath Bell surrendered a two-run home run to Jay Bruce in the top of the ninth inning that turned a 2-1 lead into a 3-2 deficit. It marked the fifth consecutive game in which Bell has allowed a homerun:

  • June 10 @ Dodgers: Juan Uribe walk-off solo home run
  • June 12 @ Dodgers: Ramon Hernandez solo home run (note: Hernandez was designated for assignment today)
  • June 17 vs. Marlins: Giancarlo Stanton go-ahead solo home run
  • June 19 vs. Marlins: Justin Ruggiano go-ahead three-run home run
  • June 22 vs. Reds: Jay Bruce go-ahead two-run home run

Bell’s ERA is now 5.02, a year after posting a 5.09 ERA in 63.2 innings. In fairness, aside from the home runs, his defense-independent stats (strikeouts and walks) are back at the same level when he was a dominant closer with the Padres. However, his fastball velocity is on a three-year decline and he no longer benefits from a pitcher-friendly home ballpark.

You have to wonder how much longer the Diamondbacks, nursing a 2.5-game lead in the NL West, will continue trotting Bell out in save situations.

The Diamondbacks bailed out Bell in the bottom of the ninth, however, as Jason Kubel helped walk off with a two-run, bases-loaded single to center against Reds closer Aroldis Chapman.

Report: Chris Tillman will decide on a team this week

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Free agent right-hander Chris Tillman is narrowing his pool of potential suitors, per Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports. Returning to the Orioles is one option, of course, but Heyman also mentions another two undisclosed teams who are still in the running. An earlier report from Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun suggests that as many as four teams may be in the mix; either way, a final decision is expected by Monday.

Tillman, 29, has spent the entirety of his major league career in Baltimore. After posting career-high numbers in 2016, his progress was derailed during an injury-plagued 2017 campaign, during which he missed nearly six weeks on the disabled list with recurring right shoulder inflammation. He finished the season with a bloated 7.84 ERA, 2.3 BB/9 and 4.9 SO/9 over 93 innings.

While the mystery teams have yet to reveal themselves, the Blue Jays, Twins and Tigers have all expressed interest in the veteran right-hander this offseason. Both the Blue Jays and Twins have made big moves to bolster their rotations over the last few days, with the additions of Jaime Garcia and Jake Odorizzi, respectively. That doesn’t mean that Tillman is out of reach, however — if his price is right, he could provide some much-needed depth for pitching staffs that finished 15th and 22nd in the league last year.