For the second straight spring Roy Halladay’s low velocity readings are an issue.
Last spring Halladay brushed off those concerns, but sure enough his fastball averaged just 90.6 miles per hour last season compared to 92.0 in 2011 and 92.6 in 2010. He posted a 4.49 ERA that was his worst since 2000 and was limited to 25 starts because of a shoulder injury.
David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News reports that Halladay topped out at 88 miles per hour yesterday and worked mostly in the 86-88 range. It’s not uncommon for velocity readings to be lower than usual early in spring training as pitchers build up their arm strength, but at age 35 and coming off shoulder problems it might be time to wonder if the Cy Young-caliber Halladay we’ve consistently seen for the past decade is gone for good.
The Royals are in agreement with right-handed reliever Drew Storen on a minor league deal, the team announced Friday. Per Jon Heyman of MLB Network, the deal is worth $1.25 million if the veteran righty breaks camp with the club this spring. Additional, albeit unspecified incentives will be included in the contract as well.
Storen, 31, is coming off of a protracted absence from any MLB duties. After inking a one-year deal with the Reds in 2017, he sustained a right elbow sprain toward the end of the year and underwent Tommy John surgery that October. He was effectively decommissioned for the club’s entire 2018 run and generated little interest around the league this winter, perhaps due in part to the uninspired 4.45 ERA, 3.8 BB/9, 7.9 SO/9, and career-low -0.2 fWAR he posted across 54 2/3 innings during his last healthy season.
While it’s not immediately clear what kind of performance the Royals can expect from Storen in spring training, they’re not exactly in a position to be choosy. Their bullpen ranked dead last among all MLB teams with a collective 5.04 ERA, 4.85 FIP, and -2.2 fWAR last year, and still appears to be in a state of flux as they approach Opening Day. Skipper Ned Yost told reporters Wednesday that he intends to eschew the traditional closer appointment in 2019 and will instead utilize a combination of right-handers Wily Peralta and Brad Boxberger, lefty Tim Hill, and various others as he tackles high-leverage situations in the future.