Not only has Jose Valverde secured a spot in the Mets’ bullpen six weeks after joining the team on a minor-league deal, manager Terry Collins said yesterday that the 36-year-old will begin the season as the primary setup man.
And with closer Bobby Parnell potentially not being available for a full workload as he returns from a herniated disk in his neck it’s possible that Valverde may even get some early season save opportunities.
It’s quite a comeback for Valverde, who had a 5.59 ERA in 20 appearances for the Tigers before being released last season and was largely viewed as an afterthought signing. Vic Black’s struggles opened the door for Valverde to grab hold of a bigger role and Papa Grande will try to show he’s got a little something left in the tank.
Pitcher David Phelps has a torn UCL and will undergo Tommy John surgery, ending his 2018 season, the Mariners announced on Wednesday. Phelps was making brief one-inning stints in the Cactus League as he worked his way back from a procedure to remove a bone spur from his elbow last September. He said he felt the ligament tear on his final pitch against the Angels in his March 17 appearance.
Phelps, 31, was expected to set up for closer Edwin Diaz. The right-hander, between the Marlins and Mariners last season, posted a 3.40 ERA with a 62/26 K/BB ratio in 55 2/3 innings. He and the Mariners avoided arbitration in January, agreeing on a $5.55 million salary for the 2018 campaign. Phelps will become eligible to become a free agent at the end of the season.
As the Mariners noted in their statement, the expected recovery period for Tommy John surgery is 12-15 months, so this very likely cuts into Phelps’ 2019 season as well.