Another day, another new closer in MLB.
According to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle, A’s manager Bob Melvin announced late Saturday night that veteran lefty Brian Fuentes will take over as the team’s new ninth-inning man.
Grant Balfour, who is sporting a 4.41 ERA and 11/6 K/BB ratio through 16 1/3 innings this season, has been demoted back to his old setup role.
“It’s where I feel most comfortable, and I believe I can get the job done,” Fuentes told reporters on Saturday after being informed of Melvin’s decision. “It’s good to know he has that confidence in me.”
The 36-year-old southpaw has posted a 3.86 ERA, 1.14 WHIP and 12/2 K/BB ratio in 14 frames this year.
It’s been one issue after the next for Indians reliever Andrew Miller, and on Saturday, the left-hander landed back on the 10-day disabled list with right knee inflammation. According to comments made by club manager Terry Francona, Miller’s knee has been a problem since the start of the year. The team has yet to determine a concrete timetable for his return to the bullpen.
Miller, 33, hasn’t looked like his usual sub-2.00 ERA, 2.0+ fWAR self this season, though he paired a 4.40 ERA and 6.3 BB/9 with an impressive 14.4 SO/9 across his first 14 1/3 innings. A left hamstring strain and minor back injury hampered his effectiveness on the mound, though this appears to be a more serious issue — especially given the five weeks he spent recovering from a tendon injury in his right knee last year.
In corresponding moves, the Indians designated right-hander Oliver Drake for assignment and recalled Triple-A right-handers Ben Taylor and Evan Marshall. Taylor, 25, was working on a 3.63 ERA, 1.0 BB/9 and 11.4 SO/9 through 17 1/3 innings in Triple-A Columbus, while 28-year-old Marshall turned in a terrific 0.77 ERA, 0.8 BB/9 and 6.9 SO/9 over his first 11 2/3 innings. Neither reliever has pitched more than a handful of innings at the big league level in 2018.