With Mauricio Cabrera released & Jose Ramirez done for the season, 2 of the guys in Atlanta’s system who have MLB experience have been written off from the 2018 lineup card. Cabrera was rocking an absolute whopper of a 11.03 ERA in A+, so his return to Atlanta wasn’t likely before the cut. Shane Carle, Dan Winkler, and other early season standouts are starting to look human, Atlanta has to do something with Washington and Philadelphia nipping at their heels.
A Helping Hand:
Bleacher Report first highlighted this possibility, noting:
“Atlanta’s pen has come undone with a 5.38 ERA over the last 30 days. Although there’s nothing it doesn’t need, a tried-and-true relief ace is the best it can shoot for.
According to Jon Morosi of MLB Network, the Braves’ focus is on relievers who are controlled beyond 2018. Among the players on that list, none suits them better than Brad Hand.
The two-time All-Star owns a 2.63 ERA and a rate of 11.8 strikeouts per nine innings since 2015. He’s also signed for cheap through 2021.”
Houston has been linked to Brad Hand for a while, and apparently, San Diego’s asking price is Andrew Miller level high, so Hand will cost Atlanta prospects hand over fist (sorry). However, Hand is about as dominating as left-handed relievers come, and Anthopoulos would have him for 2 1/2 more years at a minimum.
Blake Treinen – Will Oakland Sell?
The A’s have been playing good baseball of late, 18-5 over their last 23 games, which makes them an interesting team at the deadline. Treinen & Jed Lowrie’s values will never be higher. The latter is an expiring contract. Billy Beane loves to sell, but with his team in the thick of the AL West, one of the toughest divisions in baseball, will he move pieces for the future with the mighty Astros standing in their way? History says yes. Blake Treinen has a 0.98 ERA with 23 saves over 46 innings. He’s on the last year of his deal but is up for arbitration for the next 2 years, so he’s somewhat controllable. He’s only 30 and has only had one real “rough season” (with Washington 2 years ago). I think he’s one of the better investments on the market, and Atlanta will 100% be a player in bartering for his services.
Buy Low on Britton:
In 2016, Zach Britton was shredding through batters like a wet paper bag. His 0.54 ERA (!!!) paired with his league-leading 47 saves landed him 4th in Cy Young voting. Injuries limited him to 37 innings last season, and 2018 has not been kind to him. His 4.26 ERA in 12.2 IP isn’t pretty, but this could be seen as an opportunity for Atlanta. The Orioles stink. They might break the record of the 2003 Tigers who went 43-119, especially after they move Adam Jones & Manny Machado. Maybe Britton getting back on a winning club could be the spark he needed, and he wouldn’t be a fraction of the price of Hand.
Real Life Kenny Powers – Ken Giles:
The unstable and fireball reliever Ken Giles has decent numbers, although it seems his tenure in Houston is coming to an end. He was demoted to AAA this week after posting a 4.99 ERA and being caught on camera telling manager AJ Hinch “F*** you man” (NSFW) after being pulled from action against Oakland after blowing a 4-0 lead. Some of you remember him punching himself in the face after being pulled. Giles has had his highs and lows:
2014: 1.18 ERA
2015: 1.80 ERA
2016: 4.11 ERA
2017: 2.30 ERA
Baseball fans will also remember him melting down multiple times in the 2017 postseason, however, I still think it’s worth a phone call.
Division Rival Kyle Barraclough:
Righty Kyle Barraclough is one of the lone bright spots on the Marlins, and like Hand, will not come cheap. He’s posting a ridiculous 1.31 ERA over 41.1 IP with only 3 HRs allowed. His 0.94 WHIP is equally as impressive. It would sting sending our young guys to the Marlins, but Barraclough is about as good as they come. Jeter sold low on Giancarlo to the Yankees (because of course he did), so maybe AA could swing a nice deal without giving up too much high-end talent.
None of the guys mentioned have MLB experience sans Whitley’s 1 inning, and Dirks is currently on the disabled list. However, I think this will be the next line of guys called up to support the pen.
Wes Parsons: (4-2 in 8 Starts, 2.29 ERA & 70 Ks in 74.2 IP)
Michael Mader: (4.82 ERA in 18.2 IP)
Chase Whitley: (2.31 ERA & 10 K in 11.1 IP)
Caleb Dirks: (1.91 ERA & 213 Ks in 183.2 IP spanning Rookie Ball to AAA)
My guess is Parsons and Whitley will be the next men up.
The jump from a AA bullpen is a huge one, but it’s been done before. With Tyler Pike only logging 16.1 innings so far in Mississippi, there are only two realistic (not really) options:
Corbin Clouse (2.19 ERA, 47 K in 37 IP)
Adam McCreery (4.15 ERA, 47 K, 1 HR Allowed in 39 IP)
It’s hard to believe AA would call these guys up over making a deadline move.
It’s only a matter of time before the first domino falls.