As soon as news broke of Ryan Madson needing season-ending Tommy John elbow surgery the assumption was that the Reds would move setup man Sean Marshall into the closer role, but manager Dusty Baker apparently hasn’t made up his mind yet.
Baker told Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com that he’s “been getting that question from all my friends, family, and people in restaurants” but “we have to talk to the guys” because “you just don’t throw somebody in that role.”
Bill Bray, Nick Masset, and Aroldis Chapman are the other closer candidates, but Marshall is clearly the Reds’ best reliever and one of the best relievers in all of baseball, closer experience or not. In two seasons as a full-time reliever Marshall threw 150 innings with a 2.45 ERA and 169/42 K/BB ratio, holding opponents to a .222 batting average and just four homers. If that isn’t closer material, I don’t know what is.
Phil Hughes was officially designated for assignment by the Twins on Tuesday, the culmination of multiple injury-plagued seasons and poor performance.
Things couldn’t have started out much better for Hughes in Minnesota. The former Yankees hurler joined the club on a three-year, $24 million contract in December of 2013 and reeled off a 3.52 ERA over 32 starts during his first season with the club. He set the MLB record (which still stands, by the way) for single season strikeout-to-walk ratio and even received some downballot Cy Young Award consideration. The big year resulted in the two sides ripping up their previous agreement with a new five-year, $58 million deal, but it was all downhill after that.
Hughes took a step back with a 4.40 ERA in 2015 and struggled with a 5.95 ERA over 11 starts and one relief appearance in 2016 before undergoing surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome. He wasn’t any better upon his return last year, putting up a 5.87 ERA in nine starts and five relief appearances. Hughes missed time with a biceps issue and required a thoracic outlet revision surgery in August. He began this year on the disabled list with an oblique injury, only to put up a 6.75 ERA over two starts and five relief appearances before the Twins decided to turn the page this week.
Hughes is still owed the remainder of his $13.2 million salary for this year and another $13.2 million next year. The deal didn’t work out as anyone would have hoped, but unfortunately this is another case of health just not cooperating.