HomeMLB RumorsAL East Notes: Kimbrel, Irvin, Kahnle, Whitlock

AL East Notes: Kimbrel, Irvin, Kahnle, Whitlock

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Craig Kimbrel blew a save and was charged with the loss in the Orioles’ 7-6 defeat to the Athletics today, but the veteran closer’s health may be of greater concern.  Kimbrel walked Darell Hernaiz and was then visited by the team trainer on the mound, but stayed in the game and allowed a homer to Kyle McCann.  That prompted another trainer’s visit and Kimbrel’s departure, and manager Brandon Hyde told reporters (including MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko) postgame that Kimbrel was dealing with some upper back tightness.  The right-hander was still receiving treatment and it isn’t yet known if a trip to the injured list might be in order.

Kimbrel has failed to convert either of his last two save opportunities, marking his first blown save since his first appearances of the season.  In between, he reeled off seven saves and a perfect 0.00 in 10 innings of work, and even today’s outing only boosts his ERA to 3.18 for the season.  Overall, the 35-year-old has performed as expected after signing a one-year deal worth $13MM in guaranteed money last winter, as Baltimore was looking for a ninth-inning specialist after Felix Bautista was lost to Tommy John surgery.  If Kimbrel needs some recovery time, Yennier Cano or Danny Coulombe are the likeliest candidates to move into closer duties, which would then necessitate another arm being shuffled into the bullpen.  One possible relief candidate might be starter Albert Suarez, who is out of minor league options but has pitched so well in fill-in starter duty that the O’s likely don’t want to expose him to waivers in order to move him back to Triple-A.  With Kyle Bradish and John Means nearing returns from the IL, the Orioles are in the enviable position of having too many good starters, yet as we’ve potentially seen with this Kimbrel situation, injuries have a way of quickly solving any surpluses.

More from the AL East…

  • Speaking of Orioles starters, x-rays were negative on Cole Irvin’s left middle finger were negative after he was hit by a comebacker in Saturday’s 7-0 win over Oakland.  Irvin told Kubatko and other media that he isn’t feeling any pain, so there seems to be no concern that he’d miss his next start.  With a 3.49 ERA over 28 1/3 innings, Irvin has also pitched well enough to make a case for keeping his rotation job when Bradish and Means are healthy.
  • Tommy Kahnle has yet to pitch this season due to shoulder inflammation, as one setback already delayed the Yankees’ initial plan to activate him from the 15-day IL when first eligible.  However, manager Aaron Boone told MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch and other reporters that Kahnle threw a simulated inning of live batting practice yesterday, and is planning to throw off the mound again in a few days’ time.  Kahnle posted a 2.66 ERA in 40 2/3 relief innings for New York last season, in between a season-opening 60-day IL stint due to biceps tendinitis and then more shoulder inflammation that prematurely ended his season in September.
  • An oblique strain sent Garrett Whitlock to the 15-day injured list back on April 17, and it looks as if the Red Sox righty-hander will be sidelined beyond just a minimal stint.  Manager Alex Cora told reporters (including MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith) that Whitlock has been playing catch “but he still feels it….So no mound progression for him.”  Given the tricky nature of oblique injuries, it might’ve counted as a surprise if Whitlock had missed only 15 days, and it isn’t yet clear when he might be back in action.  Whitlock was looking tremendous prior to his injury, posting a 1.96 ERA over his first four starts and 18 1/3 innings of the season.

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