Jim Henderson has pitched really well since taking over the closer role from John Axford in Milwaukee, but he could be headed for an extended absence.
Henderson strained his right hamstring in the ninth inning last night while attempting to finish off the Brewers’ victory against the Pirates. He appeared to suffer the injury as he attempted to field a comebacker off the bat of Russell Martin, but Henderson told Adam McCalvy of MLB.com that he tweaked his hamstring when he pushed off the mound to make the pitch.
Henderson tried to stay in the game initially, but was pulled after he showed obvious discomfort on a warm-up throw. Francisco Rodriguez took over from there and needed just two pitches for his first save of the season and the 295th of his career.
If Henderson requires a trip to the disabled list, Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said that he will likely employ a closer-by-committee in his absence. Rodriguez, Axford and even Mike Gonzalez could all be in the mix for save chances.
Henderson, 30, owns an 0.82 ERA and 23/5 K/BB ratio over 19 2/3 innings this season. He is a perfect 9-for-9 in save opportunities.
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.