Angels strip Jordan Walden of closing duties, give job to Scott Downs

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One blown save was all it took for Jordan Walden to lose the Angels’ closer job.

After saving 32 games as a rookie last season Walden didn’t get his first save opportunity until April 20 this year. He converted it, but then coughed up two runs yesterday to blow his second save chance.

And today the Angels announced that he’s been demoted to a seventh- and eighth-inning role with left-hander Scott Downs taking over as closer, although manager Mike Scioscia left open the possibility that the move is temporary.

Scioscia told reporters that Walden “needs to work on things in situations where the game can’t be won or lost on one pitch.”

Walden certainly hasn’t pitched well in the early going, but that seems like a pretty strong reaction to a closer allowing runs in just two of his six outings and it’ll be plenty easy for him to win or lose games on one pitch working a high-leverage setup role too. Of course, pretty strong reactions tend to happen when an expected World Series contender begins the season 6-13 even if Walden took just one of those losses.

Last year right around this time it was Walden who supplanted a struggling Fernando Rodney as the Angels’ closer and the hard-throwing 24-year-old right-hander has a 3.15 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 80 career innings.

Kris Medlen retires from baseball

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Diamondbacks right-hander Kris Medlen has announced his retirement from baseball, writes Zach Buchanan of The Athletic. According to a team official, Medlen forewent his scheduled start for Triple-A Reno on Saturday. The Diamondbacks have yet to officially confirm the report.

The 32-year-old righty inked a minor league deal with Arizona prior to the 2018 season and was eventually recalled for a spot start in early May. He lasted four innings on seven runs, four walks and four strikeouts in his first and only loss of the year. Things didn’t go any smoother in Triple-A, where he went 0-5 in seven starts with a 5.03 ERA, 4.0 BB/9 and 7.7 SO/9 across 34 innings.

Medlen will hang up his cleats after completing an eight-year track in the majors with the Braves, Royals and Diamondbacks. He delivered his strongest performance in Atlanta during the 2012 season, posting a 10-1 record in 12 starts and delivering a cumulative 1.57 ERA, 1.5 BB/9 and 7.8 SO/9 across 138 innings out of the rotation and bullpen. Two Tommy John surgeries took their toll on Medlen, however, limiting his effectiveness off the mound and preventing him from duplicating those career-high numbers in back-to-back stints with the Royals and D-backs. Notwithstanding his post-recovery struggles, the veteran righty will top off his career with a respectable 3.33 ERA and 9.1 fWAR, two complete games, and three playoff runs — including a World Series championship with the 2015 Royals.