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Gerrit Cole Taking Off in Houston

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The defending World Champion Houston Astros sought to improve themselves this past offseason.  The Astros identified the need to strengthen an already strong starting rotation.  Houston kicked the tires of Yu Darvish among other free agent pitchers.

In Pittsburgh, the Pirates decided to hit the reset button of the current roster.  Gerrit Cole’s name was dangled in the trade market.  The Yankees engaged the Pirates in trade talks for Cole’s services.  The Yankees front office had been a fan of Gerrit Cole’s for quite some time having originally drafted the right-hander in 2008 before Cole opted to head to UCLA.

Media sources reported a deal between Pittsburgh and New York and just as quickly the deal fell through later that day.  Houston then swooped in and traded for Cole to solidify their rotation.  Houston was betting on the young starters upside.

Cole won 19 games in 2015 while posting an impressive 2.60 ERA and punching out 200 plus hitters.  He was an All-Star and finished 4th in the NL Cy Young Voting.  His 2015 campaign showed the baseball world that Gerrit Cole was worthy of his 2011 1st pick status.

The 2016 & 2017 seasons were less memorable for Cole and the Pirates.  Pittsburgh went from 98 wins in 2015 to 78 in 2016 and 75 in 2017.   Cole saw his ERA jump to 3.88 in 2016 and 4.26 in 2017.  Cole became prone to the long ball as he gave up 31 home runs in 2017.

Gerrit Cole needed a change of scenery and the Pirates obliged him.

Gerrit Cole joined an Astros rotation that featured two previous Cy Young Award winners in Justin Verlander and Dallas Keuchel in addition to Lance McCullers and Charlie Morton.

The consensus was that Cole would be the fourth man in the Astros rotation.  This role would be a change for Cole as he was the ace of the Pirates staff for most of his tenure in Pittsburgh.

Cole has taken this role in stride this season.  He endeared himself to the Houston faithful by joining Astros legend Nolan Ryan as the second pitcher in MLB history to strikeout 11 or more hitters in three consecutive starts to begin the season.

Baseball Prospectus

He set a career best last Friday by fanning 14 Texas Rangers.  Cole’s WHIP is a staggering 0.66 and has only issued 4 walks in the early season.

The Astros offense has failed to provided Cole with run support in two of his first three starts, but the wins will surly come for the talented starter.

Gerrit Cole has always had talent, but no one could’ve foreseen this historic start.  Cole regaining his 2015 form can be attributed to a couple factors.

He has the motivation of contributing to a championship team.  Cole doesn’t have the pressure of being the guy in Houston as the Astros won the World Series without him.

Cole is making the rare, smooth transition pitchers have going from the senior to the junior circuit.  Gerrit Cole is dominating early into the 2018 season, and if he continues this pace Houston will be dominating late into October once again.

 

American League

2019 Trade Deadline Highlights

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In a shocking, last-minute deal, Zack Greinke has a new home (CBS Sports).

This year’s Trade Deadline in the MLB wasn’t as boisterous as previous seasons and might rank as one of the less-exciting ones in history. There was still a good number of high-profile moves, however, and a few big names went on to new homes. Here’s a look at the more notable acquisitions of July 31, 2019 and how they will impact the teams that got the big returns.

Blue Jays trade RHP Marcus Stroman to Mets in exchange for RHP Anthony Kay, RHP Simeon Woods-Richardson

The move that unofficially kicked off trading season was a bit of a head scratcher. It had long been rumored that Toronto was shopping ace Marcus Stroman, but the team he ended up with isn’t exactly a contender. The Mets are currently four games under .500 and may not be vying for the postseason in 2019. The move is likely another part of the Mets rebuilding process, and since Noah Syndergaard stayed put, New York may have a formidable rotation next season.

Indians acquire LHP Scott Moss, OF Yasiel Puig from Reds and OF Franmil Reyes, LHP Logan Allen and IF Victor Nova from Padres, Padres acquire OF Taylor Trammell from Reds, Indians acquire Reds acquire RHP Trevor Bauer from Indians

The literal biggest trade of the day was a this three-team blockbuster. Trevor Bauer firing the ball over the center field wall on Sunday after he was pulled in the fifth inning ended up being the last pitch he threw in an Indians uniform. A day later the Tribe rid itself of his petulance and pulled off a massive trade with intrastate rival Cincinnati as well as San Diego that saw Bauer go to the Reds and Reds top prospect Taylor Tramell go to the Friars. Cleveland received a host of players from both teams, most namely Yasiel Puig, who is ironically also known as a prima donna.

Though Bauer is undeniably talented when he keeps his act together and bolsters the Reds attempts to trend upward, San Diego may have won the trade with Tramell, MLB’s no. 30 overall prospect.

Rays acquire 1B Jesus Aguilar from Brewers in exchange for RHP Jacob Faria

Milwaukee was certainly brewing before the Deadline and made a commendable effort to improve its pitching. GM David Stearns’ most notable move was a straight swap with the Rays that brought back righty Jacob Faria in exchange for power hitting 1B Jesus Aguilar. Aguilar is having a down year but has proven many times that he can be deadly. He gives the Rays the big bat they’ve been seeking in their hunt for a Wild Card berth.

It’s a good move for both sides because it clears Milwaukee’s infield logjam and gives the team another quality starter. Faria never quite broke out in Tampa Bay but a change of scenery always has potential to pay dividends. After having already gotten Jordan Lyles from Pittsburgh on Monday, the Brewers made another move and got Drew Pomeranz from San Fransisco later on Wednesday. Though none of the returns are big name guys, Milwaukee is serious about making another run after coming so close last year.

Cubs acquire OF Nicholas Castellanos from Tigers in exchange for RHP Alex Lange and RHP Paul Richan.

The Cubs made their chances of taking the NL Central back even better with this move. Nicholas Castellanos has been one of the MLB’s more underrated players in recent years, largely because he was on the Tigers after the team’s glory days of the early 2010s ended. Adding him to a lineup that already includes Kris Bryant, Willson Contreras and Javier Baez gives the Cubbies even more firepower, especially given Castellanos success vs. lefty pitchers. It’s also a great move for him personally as he gets to join a contending team at last. The Cubs are vying to appear in the playoffs for a fifth consecutive season, and their chances look pretty good.

Astros acquire RHP Zack Greinke from Diamondbacks in exchange for RHP Corbin Martin, RHP JB Bukauskas, IF Josh Rojas and IF Seth Beer

If Houston was scary good before this trade, they’re terrifyingly good now. The Astros just added Zack Greinke to a rotation that already includes Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole in a last-minute deal that wasn’t announced until after the deadline officially passed. Arizona received a package of four minor leaguers in return as the team is now officially in the rebuilding process.

Like Verlander, Greinke is in the second half of his thirties but has not declined at all and owned a 10-4 record with a 2.90 on a sub-par Diamondbacks team at the time of his departure. The six-time All-Star’s presence gives Houston the best rotation in baseball by far and should get the knees of any upcoming opponent knocking. The MLB said it best on Instagram today, “Facing Houston? You have a problem.”

Notable non-moves:

  • After being heavily rumored as top targets, Mets RHP Noah Syndergaard and Giants LHP Madison Bumgarner are still members of their longtime teams.
  • The Boston Red Sox, whose bullpen has blown 18 saves, made no moves to improve its relief core, to the amazement of the team’s fanbase.
  • The New York Yankees were thought to be Syndergaard’s top suitor, but the team did not acquire any starting pitching to aid Aaron Boone’s struggling rotation.

What was the biggest move of the deadline this year? Be sure to let us know on Twitter @HomeRunDaily.

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American League

Athletics Acquire Tanner Roark

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Tanner Roark

The Oakland Athletics have acquired right hander Tanner Roark from the Cincinnati Reds, according to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal.

As part of the deal, outfielder Jamerson Hannah will be heading to Cincinnati, according to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser, the Reds will pick up $2.1 million of Roark’s remaining salary.

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American League

Astros Acquire Martin Maldonado

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Martin Maldonado

The Houston Astros have acquired veteran catcher Martin Maldonado from the Chicago Cubs, according to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal.

As part of the deal, outfielder/second baseman Tony Kemp will be heading to the Cubs, according to the Houston Chronicle’s Chandler Rome.

Maldonado has posted a .217/.285/.349 slash line this season.

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