While the Astros stole headlines after trading for starter Zach Greinke at the end of the MLB trade deadline, another club emerged behind the scenes with a pair of significant additions.
“Big Time Baseball: Players Edition” co-hosts Tony Gwynn Jr. and Ben Davis believed the Braves represented the biggest winners in the National League on July 31, adding relievers Shane Greene and Mark Melancon. Atlanta owns the 10th-lowest bullpen ERA (4.18) across baseball, but they’ve also manufactured a 4.81 FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) — the seventh-highest in the game.
Greene, who tallied the fourth-most saves (22) in the American League with the Tigers, boasts the second-lowest ERA (1.18) and the eighth-lowest WHIP (0.87) among all relievers. The 2019 All-Star has strung together a career season after taking over the closer role midway through the 2017 campaign.
He’ll supplant Luke Jackson as the Braves’ closer while Melancon will slide into their mix of setup relievers, generating a 3.50 ERA and 3.33 FIP this season. He was at his best in Pittsburgh (2013-16) as a three-time All-Star and notching a career-low 1.39 ERA in 2013.
“The (Braves’) lineup is legit,” Davis said. “They’re gonna score some runs, but can they hold the lead? That’s the issue, that’s been the issue. ... I saw Melancon pitch last night (on Tuesday), and he looked like he did when he first came up with the Pirates. The curveball was there, the cutter was late. It was sharp.”
Atlanta has produced the second-most runs per game (5.37) in the NL, led Ronald Acuna Jr., Freddie Freeman and Ozzie Albies — its trio of offensive spark plugs.
A reguinvated bullpen will do wonders for its hopes of winning the NL pennant for the first time since 1999.
Later on in the podcast, Gwynn and Davis also discussed how the rest of the NL East contenders reshaped themselves, the Yankees’ failing to make a trade despite their need for starting pitching and the Trevor Bauer-Yasiel Puig blockbuster deal. They broke down the Indians’ chances for a deep playoff run and the impact of the Cubs dealing for outfielder Nick Castellanos, too.
To wrap it up, 16-year MLB veteran-turned-Dodgers broadcaster Jerry Hairston Jr. joined them to chat about about L.A.’s inability to land Felipe Vazquez, its potential postseason opponents and the revamped Astros.