Orioles working on a deal with closer Grant Balfour

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It sounds like Baltimore has zeroed in on its preferred Jim Johnson replacement, as Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that the Orioles are “trying to get a deal done” with former A’s closer Grant Balfour.

Balfour didn’t get a chance to be a closer until age 33, but he’s saved 62 games with a 2.56 ERA and 9.4 strikeouts per nine innings during the past two seasons while holding opponents to a .182 batting average.

Based on just about everything except save totals–which are inherently iffy as an evaluation tool–Balfour represents an upgrade over Johnson and perhaps a pretty sizable upgrade at that.

Braves shutting down Mike Soroka for 4-5 days due to shoulder problems

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Mark Bowman of MLB.com reports that Braves starter Mike Soroka will be shut down for the next 4-5 days due to renewed soreness in his right shoulder.

Soroka is not presently listed in the top five of the Braves depth chart at starter, but is nonetheless an enormously talented pitcher who, at some point this season, was likely to figure into their plans. He was supposed to figure in more largely than he did last season, but after an impressive debut he missed the entire second half with shoulder problems, making only five starts.

There will no doubt be a reevaluation of him in the next few days, but this is could bad news for the Braves’ pitching depth.