Indians closer Chris Perez has allowed a total of six runs in his last two appearances and has a 7.52 ERA since the start of August. As a result, manager Terry Francona has removed him from the closer’s role, reports WTAM’s Nick Camino.
On the season, Perez has a career-worst 4.33 ERA in 54 innings, converting 25 of 30 save opportunities.
ESPN’s Buster Olney speculates that Joe Smith or Justin Masterson could be used as the team’s closer going forward. Winners of seven in a row and 12 of their last 14, the Indians are clutching onto a one-game lead over the Rangers for the second AL Wild Card with three games remaining. They trail the Rays for the first Wild Card spot by one game.
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.