As Andrew Baggarly of CSN Bay Area via Twitter, and others have reported this afternoon, San Francisco Giants reliever Guillermo Mota has been suspended for 100 games for testing positive for the use of the performance-enhancing drug (PED) clenbuterol.
Mota, 38, also failed a drug test and served a 50-game suspension in 2006.
His fastball velocity was trending down this season despite his PED use.
In 10.2 innings of work, Mota had a 5.06 ERA while striking out nearly 20 percent of the hitters he faced, down three percent from last season.
He will begin serving the suspension immediately, though the Giants have yet to announce a corresponding roster move. Aubrey Huff, who is eligible to come of the disabled list today, is with the team in Los Angeles, making his activation a likely possibility.
The best candidate to replace Mota in the bullpen is top prospect Heath Hembree. The 23-year-old reliever is currently the closer for the Fresno Grizzlies, the Triple-A affiliate of the Giants.
Hembree features a fastball that sits in the mid-90 MPH range to go with a power slider. In 76.1 career minor league innings, Hembree has struck out 110 hitters, good for a ridiculous strike-out rate of 13.0 per nine innings pitched.
If the Giants replace Mota with Hembree, then this suspension could turn out to be a blessing in disguise. The Giants may ultimately decide that Hembree needs more seasoning in the minor leagues given his lack of experience.
However, there is no question that his stuff is big league-ready as he showed during his outstanding spring training with the Giants. Given the high attrition rate among major league relievers, it makes a lot of sense to throw Hembree into the fire now and find out if the Giants have their closer of the future.
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