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Rockies’ closer role up in the air without Greg Holland

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Rockies’ right-hander Greg Holland has been temporarily excused from the closer role, manager Bud Black told reporters Sunday. Holland was pulled from a save situation against the Braves on Saturday night after issuing three hits and two runs in the ninth inning. He recorded just one out before Black replaced him with Jake McGee, whose game-ending double play gave the Rockies a narrow 7-6 finish.

This isn’t the first time the Rockies have questioned Holland’s pitching mechanics. He’s had difficulty controlling his slider over his last several appearances, feeding into an ugly 15.12 ERA, 6.5 BB/9 and 7.6 SO/9 since the start of the month. While Black hasn’t officially removed the righty from the closer role, Holland will sit out during Sunday’s series finale to work on the pitch while the team “navigates” the ninth inning without him.

In the interim, the team still has several viable options in left-handers Jake McGee and Mike Dunn and right-hander Pat Neshek, and they’re expected to receive reinforcements when rosters expand next Friday. Neshek also appeared in Saturday’s win over the Braves, taking the win with a scoreless inning before handing the ball to Holland. Given the Rockies’ current second-place standing in the NL wild card race, the pressure to figure things out quickly is running high.

Sheldon Ocker named winner of the 2018 J.G. Taylor Spink Award

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The Baseball Writers Association of America has named Sheldon Ocker the winner of the 2018 J.G. Taylor Spink Award. He will be honored with the award that is presented annually to a sportswriter “for meritorious contributions to baseball writing” during Hall of Fame inductions in Cooperstown on July 29.

Ocker began covering the Indians for the Akron Beacon Journal in 1981 and did so until 2013, when he retired. He was national president of the BBWAA in 1985 and served as chair of the Cleveland Chapter 11 times. He named Ohio Sports Writer of the Year in 1997 and 2000 by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association.