Sonny Gray’s two most recent starts for the Athletics have altered his stock in a hurry, writes ESPN’s Buster Olney. Gray’s struggles over the past 13 to 14 months have been tied not only to injury but to a (quite possibly related) drop in his swinging-strike rate, but he’s racked up swings-and-misses in his each of his past two outings thanks to a revitalized breaking pitch. Gray’s velocity spiked in his most recent start, as well — an outing in which he completed seven one-run innings and whiffed 11 Marlins hitters on just 88 pitches. Olney suggests that Gray could emerge as the top trade target on the market if this trend continues much longer, as the A’s are typically willing to deal earlier than most clubs, there are motivated buyers already (e.g. Cubs, Yankees, Astros) and Oakland may wish to cash in while Gray is looking impressive.
More from the game’s Western divisions…
- Injured Angels relievers Huston Street, Mike Morin and Cam Bedrosian are all making good progress in their recoveries, writes Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register. And while Morin has minor league options remaining and isn’t a lock to return to the big league club right away, the returns of Street and Bedrosian will give manager Mike Scioscia some interesting decisions when it comes to late-inning bullpen usage. Bud Norris has been outstanding in a ninth-inning role, but Bedrosian has been the team’s best reliever for a year, and Street is has the track record and salary of a veteran closer. Fletcher notes that the Angels only have two relievers with minor league options at present, one being left-hander Jose Alvarez, who won’t be going anywhere. As such, it seems that another 40-man move could be necessary. Bedrosian is set to start a rehab assignment within the next week or so.
- Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union Tribune takes a look at right-hander Dinelson Lamet’s unlikely path to the Major Leagues in advance of the 24-year-old’s MLB debut. Lamet, who will start for the Padres tonight, is the rare Dominican-born prospect that did not sign until after his 20th birthday, Lin notes. Most Dominican ballplayers that show big league potential are snatched up beginning at age 16 and possibly a year or two later, but Lamet signed less than two months before turning 22 and is now set to debut less than three years later. As Lin writes, Lamet was poised to sign with the Phillies, but a documentation issue torpedoed that deal. Lin chats with former Padres exec Randy Smith about what the team saw in Lamet as an amateur and how they went about closing the deal.
- Padres manager Andy Green won’t name Brad Hand his new closer despite the lefty’s save in last night’s win over the Mets, but he did tell reporters that Hand and former closer Brandon Maurer will both be in the mix for saves (link via MLB.com’s AJ Cassavell). “It’s going to be looking at the game and seeing what’s best for the group of guys we have at that point in time,” says Green. “I think we’ll just bounce guys around and utilize them in the best way possible going forward right now. Wouldn’t be shocked at all to see Brandon Maurer in that situation in the ninth. Wouldn’t be shocked to see Brad Hand back in that situation.” Hand, of course, saw his name pop up as a trade target in a couple of reports last night and figures to be an oft-rumored trade candidate in the months leading up to the non-waiver deadline. For that matter, though, Maurer could also generate interest, though he’d first need to distance himself from a rough stretch of games through which he struggled in mid-May.
- Jack Magruder of FanRag Sports adds some context to Shelby Miller’s recent Tommy John surgery, tweeting that Miller was diagnosed with a 50 percent tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. The extent of the tear doesn’t necessarily change Miller’s timeline for recovery, of course. He’ll still miss the remainder of the 2017 season and hope to return to the D-backs’ rotation at some point in the first half of the 2018 campaign.