The trade deadline has come and gone and it appears that while the Braves ended up falling short when it came to getting Chris Archer, they still came away from the deadline with some help for the rotation after doing another deal with the Orioles — this time, acquiring Kevin Gausman and Darren O’Day.
While Gausman hasn’t exactly had the best season so far, he’s not that far removed from being considered an important cog in a playoff team’s rotation. He finished the 2016 season with a 3.61 ERA and a 4.10 FIP, which was supplemented with a K/9 of 8.72 and a BB/9 of 2.35. That contributed to an fWAR of 3.0 on the dot, which actually made him the best pitcher on Baltimore’s entire staff during that campaign that eventually ended in the Wild Card Game.
Unfortunately, things have gone slightly downhill for Gausman since then. As of right now, he’s sporting a 4.40 ERA with a FIP that’s around the same area of 4.58. Most of that is probably inflated due to the fact that the Orioles have employed a “defense is optional” strategy in a division that includes a bunch of teams who can mash the ball almost at will. The obvious hope (as it is with any pitcher transitioning from the AL to the NL) is that the switch in league should help bring things down a bit.
Meanwhile, Atlanta also managed to bring in a some relief help in the form of Darren O’Day. Granted, that help won’t be coming this season since he recently had surgery on his hamstring but he should definitely be a helpful addition to the bullpen once he’s healthy and ready for next season. The Braves were actually linked to O’Day during the dark days of the rebuild and honestly, it didn’t make too much since for Atlanta to pursue him back then. With the team now in contention and hopefully even better once 2019 rolls around, it definitely makes sense to add O’Day and the bullpen will be better off once he’s back on the mound.
Basically, if the Braves weren’t going to get Archer (and by all accounts it appears that they were close to getting him and maybe they would have pulled it off if the Pirates didn’t go on an 11-game win streak this month and somehow play themselves into Wild Card contention) then they did pretty well for themselves by acquiring Gausman. This isn’t a blockbuster move that we were all hoping for, but it’s a solid move that improves the team while keeping most of the team’s prospect capital intact.
In fact, that’s basically been the story of Atlanta’s deadline dealing. They made slight improvements to their bullpen, bench and rotation without breaking the bank with regards to any assets that they had. Jonny Venters, Brad Brach, Adam Duvall and Kevin Gausman probably aren’t going to magically turn the Braves into the divisional favorites — they’re still going to have a heck of a battle on their hands with the Phillies and maybe the Nationals if they magically wake up. Still, those four players will make the Braves a better team now than what they looked like going into the trade deadline.
Really, that’s all you could ask for from your front office when they have a shot at making the playoffs at this juncture of the season. The Braves are better right now than they were a few days ago and they improved without mortgaging the future in any significant fashion. It’s not splashy by any means, but I will definitely take this.