May 16, 2014

Tigers not impressed with Joel Hanrahan’s latest bullpen session


The Tigers signed reliever Joel Hanrahan to a minor league deal on May 2, knowing full well the right-hander is still working his way back from elbow surgery last May. They hoped he wouldn’t have any issues and would eventually be able to contribute out of the bullpen some time in June. Hanrahan suffered a minor setback on Friday.

James Schmehl of reports that the Tigers shut down Hanrahan during his second bullpen session and will have him resume a long toss program. Tigers head athletic trainer Kevin Rand said that Hanrahan’s arm strength still isn’t up to par yet. Hanrahan will long toss for about a week and then will be reevaluated. If everything goes according to plan, Hanrahan could throw a bullpen next week.

Chad Qualls will be the Astros’ full-time closer


The closer-by-committee is no more. Via’s Brian McTaggart, Astros manager Bo Porter says that Chad Qualls will be the team’s closer going forward.

“We have a lead in the ninth, Chad Qualls will get the ball,” Porter said. “He’s really been good of late and it actually looks like his [velocity] is back, his heavy sinker has been working — it’s ground ball after ground ball. If we have a lead and he’s available, he’ll get the ball.”

Qualls, Anthony Bass, Josh Fields, and Raul Valdes have all recorded at least one save for the Astros since the season started. The 35-year-old Qualls, however, has had the most success among them, posting a 3.55 ERA with a 15/3 K/BB ratio in 12 2/3 innings.

The Astros’ relief problems extend beyond just their closing situation, however. The bullpen’s aggregate 5.73 ERA is by far the worst in baseball, well ahead of the Blue Jays at 5.29.

Orioles sign Heath Bell to a minor league deal


Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Orioles have signed reliever Heath Bell to a minor league deal, and MASN’s Roch Kubatko confirms the deal. Yesterday, D.J. Short mentioned that the Orioles were one of the four teams expected to land the right-hander.

Bell, 36, was released by the Rays on Sunday, about a week after he had allowed three runs in an inning of work against the Yankees. Bell had struggled for them all season long, however, posting a 7.27 ERA with a 12/8 K/BB ratio in 17 1/3 innings.

The Orioles have had some issues at the back of the bullpen, as closer Tommy Hunter has a 6.60 ERA and three blown saves despite leading the league in converted saves with 11.