The Atlanta Braves have been checking on a number of controllable starting pitchers, and Saturday brought Braves rumors of another interesting option.
Alex Anthopoulos and the Atlanta Braves have been awfully quiet on the trade front in the days leading up to the July 31st deadline, but Braves rumors have linked them to a few different starting pitchers on the market.
They’ve previously been mentioned as having interest in Marcus Stroman, though nothing to this point has materialized. The Braves also were reported to have checked in on Cole Hamels prior to the deal that sent him to the North side of the Windy City.
There’s no question that Atlanta could use some reinforcements.
The Braves are scuffling; they are 7-12 in the month of July, and more recently have dropped four of their last five.
The greatest areas for improvement at this point appear to be the starting rotation and the bullpen. Atlanta did make one low-key, though nostalgic, addition to the bullpen when they brought back Jonny Venters in a deal with the Tampa Bay Rays.
But if the Braves hope to stay in the running for the National League East, they definitely need to find some stability in a rotation that has been plagued lately by injuries and inconsistency.
"The Braves had a scout in the Bronx specifically to watch Gray on Thursday, according to a source with knowledge of the team’s personnel decisions."
Gray has largely been a disappointment this season in pinstripes. He currently sports a 5.02 ERA and has the highest walk rate of his career (3.92 per 9 innings), according to Fangraphs.
He previously saw success in Oakland in the 2014 and 2015 seasons, when he averaged a 2.90 ERA in those years with the A’s and accumulated 6.9 fWAR.
Gray was then staggered by injuries in 2016, though rebounded nicely in 2017 to the tune of a 3.55 ERA, prompting the Yankees’ interest – and eventual aquisition of him – last July.
Despite his struggles this year, a deeper look at his numbers shows that perhaps he would make sense for an Atlanta team needing to solidify its staff.
His splits show that Gray has been far better on the road than at hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium in 2018. His road ERA is 3.62, more than three full runs lower than his home ERA of 6.80.
He’s also been getting better lately.
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In 18 1/3 innings pitched for the month of July, Gray has pitched to a 3.44 ERA with a .214 opponents’ average.
Gray also would somewhat fit the bill as a “controllable” starter that Alex Anthopoulos seeks for Atlanta in that he is signed through the 2019 season, meaning he is not a “rental” piece.
Though this contractual control isn’t what Atlanta would get with a Marcus Stroman (signed through 2020) or a Chris Archer (signed through 2021). Perhaps the lesser prospect cost is what would intrigue the Braves.
With no clear fifth starter, a struggling Julio Teheran, and a very inconsistent bullpen, the Atlanta Braves could use some dependability in the rotation. Sonny Gray may be a solution.