Because of the bizarre nature of Monday’s trade deadline, not many moves were expected.
To the surprise of many, more than 30 trades were completed, sending a slew of players to new locales (mostly San Diego) in the middle of a global pandemic. Though some big names — like Mike Clevinger, Jonathan Villar and Starling Marte — traded places, they’re not the players who benefitted most from deadline deals.
New Jay, new Ray
After being involved in countless trade rumors the past few years, Robbie Ray was dealt to the (Buffalo) Blue Jays.
Many may look past this being a big deal, largely because Ray entered Friday with the second-worst ERA (7.34) in the majors among pitchers who threw a minimum of 30 innings, and also ranked third in homers allowed (10) and first in walks (32). He also allowed opponents to hit .261 against him, had his lowest swinging strike rate (11.9 percent) since 2016, as well as career-worst marks in barrel rate (14.6 percent), hard-hit percentage (53.9) and groundball rate (19.3 percent).
Control has always been an issue for Ray (walking almost 11 percent of the batters he has faced in his career), but he hasn’t always been this bad. He was an All-Star in 2017 while going 15-5 with a 2.89 ERA and 218 strikeouts, and he finished seventh in Cy Young voting. Despite some struggles and injuries, he was still 18-10 with a 4.17 ERA and 12.1 strikeout rate over the past two seasons.
One thing that has always remained consistent: His strikeout rate and velocity. He is striking out a career-high 12.3 per nine innings this year, while averaging 94 mph.
In his Blue Jays debut Tuesday, Ray allowed two runs (one earned) on four hits over 3 ¹/₃ innings. He struck out four and walked one. Of his 48 pitches, 36 were thrown for strikes and eight were swinging strikes.
Ray, who is just 28 years old and available in 40 percent or more of ESPN and Yahoo leagues, can build on that short effort while a member of a top-five pitching staff — especially if he relies less on his fastball, a pitch he throws about 50 percent of the time. He also has a 27 percent walk rate with the fastball and opponents are hitting .290 against it this year.
* His secondary pitches are most important, especially his slider — a pitch he uses about 32 percent of the time. Opponents are hitting .156 against it this year (.207 for his career), and he has struck out 22 of his 47 using that pitch while walking just 6 percent of batters. He also has an 18.6 percent swing rate using the pitch. He also employs a sinker, which opponents are hitting .200 against.
The real beneficiary of Clevinger being shipped to San Diego is Zach Plesac. Plesac and Clevinger were demoted in August for violating the team’s COVID rules. Clevinger rejoined the rotation on Aug. 26, but with the ascension of Triston McKenzie, there was no room for Plesac — until Cleveland traded Clevinger. Plesac returned to the rotation Tuesday and allowed one run on four hits over six innings while striking out six. He has not allowed more than three earned runs in any of his four starts, and opponents are hitting .161 against him.
Vive La France
Over his first 20 games, Ty France hit .309 with two homers, 10 RBIs, nine runs scored and a .868 OPS in part-time duty with the Padres. After being sent to Seattle as a part of the deal that brought Austin Nola to the Padres, France should see plenty of playing time (and he is eligible at every infield position besides shortstop). This is a 26-year-old who hit .294 with 69 homers, 352 RBIs and a .859 OPS over five seasons in the minors, including a 76-game stint at Triple-A last year, when he hit .399 with 27 homers, 89 RBIs and a 1.247 OPS. He is available in more than 95 percent of ESPN and Yahoo leagues.
Ross Stripling could get some starts in Toronto, but removing him from the Dodgers’ rotation should benefit Tony Gonsolin, who has allowed one earned run over 17 ²/₃ innings (0.51 ERA) and a .153 opponent average. He’s still available in 55 percent or more of ESPN and Yahoo leagues, and will make his next start Sunday against the Cubs.
The versatile Tommy La Stella was traded to Oakland, and he will be hitting second while playing second. The lefty-swinging 31-year-old may occasionally sit versus lefties, as he is hitting .185 against southpaws, but he brings a competent bat to a solid Oakland offense, and he is available in 40 percent or more of ESPN and Yahoo leagues.
Tyler Glasnow SP, Rays
Has won two consecutive starts while striking out 22, walking two and maintaining a 1.38 ERA and .149 opponent average. Has struck out 38 over his past four starts.
Marcell Ozuna OF, Braves
Had at least one hit in 14 of his past 15 games, going 22-for-59 (.373) with eight homers, 20 RBIs, 12 runs and a 1.261 OPS.
Rhys Hoskins 1B, Phillies
Raised his average from .190 to .269 over his past 18 games after going 21-for-66 (.318) with seven homers, 18 RBIs, 18 runs and a 1.194 OPS.
Ian Anderson SP, Braves
In his first two big league starts, the 22-year-old is 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA and 14-3 strikeout-walk rate. Opponents are hitting .163 against him.
Joey Gallo OF, Rangers
Entered Friday with two hits in his past 32 at-bats (.063) with 11 strikeouts, no homers or RBIs and a .313 OPS. Has not homered since Aug. 19.
Chris Bassitt SP, Athletics
Allowed 15 runs (13 earned) over his past four starts, while going 1-2 with a 5.95 ERA, 15 strikeouts, eight walks and a .272 opponent average. He also allowed five homers in that span.
Asdrubal Cabrera 1B/2B/3B, Nationals
Since Aug. 10, his average dropped from .341 to .224 after he went 13-for-81 (.160) with two homers, seven RBIs, 24 strikeouts over his past 21 games.
Frankie Montas SP, Athletics
Allowed 18 earned runs and four homers over his past three starts, going 0-2 with a 16.76 ERA, nine walks and .404 opponent average in that span.
* The struggle is real: The Reds’ Mike Moustakas entered Friday without a hit in three straight games, and his average had fallen from .313 on Aug. 2 to .214 after going 10-for-54 (.185) with no homers, four RBIs, two runs, 19 strikeouts and a .511 OPS over his past 18 games.
* Since joining the Cardinals’ rotation last month, Kwang-Hyun Kim is 2-0 with a 0.44 ERA, 11 strikeouts, six walks and a .167 opponent average. He has won two of his past three starts, hasn’t allowed an earned run since his first start on Aug. 17 and is available in 40 percent or more of ESPN and Yahoo leagues.
* Over his past two starts, Andrew Heaney of the Angels has allowed one earned run over 14 ²/₃ innings (0.61 ERA). He has struck out 16, walked just four and opponents have hit .140 against him. The lefty limited San Diego’s potent offense to just three hits over seven scoreless innings on Thursday.
Team name of the week
Leave it to Seaver