Blue Jays' closer competition may be a two-horse race

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Scott Downs headshot.jpgWe’ve been under the impression that Kevin Gregg, Jason Frasor and Scott Downs were all competing for the closer role in Toronto, and that may still be the case, but according to what Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston told Jordan Bastian of MLB.com on Wednesday, Downs’ odds of winning the job may have been downgraded ever so slightly:

“I’ve got a feeling that Scott, he’ll pitch anywhere you want him to
pitch,” Gaston said. “He’s not going to be upset if he’s closing or not
closing. If he turns out to be the better guy, then you’ll use him, but
he’s just the type where he’s going to come in to pitch and do whatever
you want him to do.

True to Gaston’s point, Downs has been a pretty dominant set-up man over the past few seasons. He only emerged as the Jays’ closer after B.J. Ryan hit the disabled list last season. And he performed quite ably in that job, too. Unfortunately, an injury to his left toe pretty much doomed him after the end of June.  

All three pitchers threw a scoreless inning of relief on the board against the Orioles on Wednesday. Gregg, who was signed to a one-year, $2.75 million contract in early February, was the early favorite to win the closer’s job as camp opened, but for what it’s worth, Bastian believes Frasor is the front-runner.
 

Reds top prospect Nick Senzel to undergo season-ending surgery

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Reds no. 1 prospect Nick Senzel is scheduled to undergo season-ending surgery on Tuesday, the club announced Saturday. Senzel tore a tendon in his right index finger on Friday and is not expected to make a full recovery before the 2018 season comes to a close, though any offseason activity has not yet been ruled out.

Prior to the start of the season, MLB Pipeline ranked the 22-year-old infielder first in the Reds’ system and sixth in the league overall. He made a fine impression in his debut with Triple-A Louisville, too, slashing .310/378/.509 with six home runs and eight stolen bases in 193 plate appearances. A call-up seemed inevitable at some point in 2018, though the Reds will now have to shelve any immediate plans for the third baseman as he works through a lengthy recovery process in order to take the field sometime in 2019.

Impressive numbers notwithstanding, it’s been a rough year for Senzel. He missed nearly a month after another chronic bout of vertigo and logged just 21 games in Louisville before landing on the disabled list again. This appears to be the first significant injury of his professional career so far.