Joe Girardi says the Yankees will use a closer-by-committee approach

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David Robertson replaced Mariano Rivera as the Yankees’ closer last season, but now who replaces Robertson? No one. Well … two guys, actually.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi announced that he’ll begin the season without a set closer, instead splitting the ninth-inning duties between right-hander Dellin Betances and left-hander Andrew Miller based on matchups and game situations.

Betances has struggled at times this spring, showing diminished velocity and shaky command, so that may have played a part in Girardi’s decision. Or maybe he’s just a believer in the closer role being less about mystique and more about getting three outs with a lead of 1-3 runs. In which case, why not bring in Miller when a couple good left-handed hitters are due up and why not use Betances when a couple good right-handed hitters are batting next? Leads can be coughed up and games can be lost in the seventh and eighth innings, too.

We’ll see how last it lasts, of course. Generally speaking teams that have gone with a closer-by-committee approach–or just not named an official closer, however you want to phrase the decision–have changed their minds fairly quickly if there are any bumps in the road. And you can be certain some Yankees fans and New York media members will be on code red, clamoring for an official closer, at the first sign of trouble.

Ex-Angels employee charged in overdose death of Tyler Skaggs

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FORT WORTH, Texas — A former Angels employee has been charged with conspiracy to distribute fentanyl in connection with last year’s overdose death of Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs, prosecutors in Texas announced Friday.

Eric Prescott Kay was arrested in Fort Worth, Texas, and made his first appearance Friday in federal court, according to Erin Nealy Cox, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas. Kay was communications director for the Angels.

Skaggs was found dead in his hotel room in the Dallas area July 1, 2019, before the start of what was supposed to be a four-game series against the Texas Rangers. The first game was postponed before the teams played the final three games.

Skaggs died after choking on his vomit with a toxic mix of alcohol and the powerful painkillers fentanyl and oxycodone in his system, a coroner’s report said. Prosecutors accused Kay of providing the fentanyl to Skaggs and others, who were not named.

“Tyler Skaggs’s overdose – coming, as it did, in the midst of an ascendant baseball career – should be a wake-up call: No one is immune from this deadly drug, whether sold as a powder or hidden inside an innocuous-looking tablet,” Nealy Cox said.

If convicted, Kay faces up to 20 years in prison. Federal court records do not list an attorney representing him, and an attorney who previously spoke on his behalf did not immediately return a message seeking comment.