Last night Jason Grilli gave up a game-tying homer against the Reds and today the Pirates announced that he’s been demoted from the closer role.
According to manager Clint Hurdle it’s not intended to be a permanent change, although surely that depends on how fill-in closer Mark Melancon fares in the role and on how Grilli bounces back with some middle relief work.
Melancon has been fantastic filling in as closer during Grilli’s injuries this season and last season, saving a total of 26 games with a 1.55 ERA in 104 innings, so the Pirates are in a very good situation in terms of having an extremely capable alternative.
Grilli had a sub-3.00 ERA for the Pirates in 2011, 2012, and 2013–including an All-Star appearance last year–but he’s allowed runs in three of his last four games and at age 37 it’s possible Hurdle and company think he might be slowing down overall.
Building on a report from early September, Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen is slated to undergo a heart procedure on November 26. The estimated recovery time ranges from two to eight weeks, according to comments Jansen made Friday, and he expects to be able to rejoin the team once spring training rolls around next year.
Jansen, 31, was first diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat in 2011 and missed significant time during the 2011, 2012, and 2018 seasons due to the condition. He underwent his first surgery to correct the irregularity in 2012, but suffered recurring symptoms that could not be treated long-term with the heart medication and blood thinners that had been prescribed to him. Scarier still was the “atrial fibrillation episode” that the reliever experienced during a road trip to Colorado in August; per MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick, the high altitude exacerbated his heart condition and left him susceptible to future episodes in the event that he chose to return to the Rockies’ Coors Field.
Heart issues notwithstanding, the veteran right-hander pitched through his third straight All-Star season in 2018. Overall, he saw a downward trend in most of his stats, but still collected 38 saves in 59 opportunities and finished the season with a respectable 3.01 ERA, 2.1 BB/9 and 10.3 SO/9 through 71 2/3 innings. In October, he helped carry the Dodgers to their second consecutive pennant and wrapped up his sixth postseason run with three saves, two blown saves, and a 1.69 ERA across 10 2/3 innings.