With the 2009 postseason picture nearly in place, it's time to identify some of the late-season pickups that can make a huge splash in this year's playoffs.
In 2002, the Angels may not have won the championship without the help of a young pitcher by the name of Francisco Rodriguez. Because of multiple injuries to their bullpen, the Angels called up the 22-year-old in mid-September. Rodriguez was able to pitch in just five regular season games for the club before being thrown into the postseason fire. The hard-throwing righty responded to the pressure beautifully, posting an ERA of 1.93 and fanning 28 batters in just 18.2 innings.
Here are some of the key late-season additions by playoff-bound squads:
- Scott Kazmir has posted an ERA of 1.73 since being acquired by the Angels in late August. The 25-year-old southpaw is slated to start the third game of the ALDS against Boston.
- The Yankees acquired pitcher Chad Gaudin from the Padres in August. Gaudin proved to be a valuable addition as he posted a 3.43 ERA in 42 IP as both a reliever and a starter. If Gaudin makes the playoff roster, it will be as a reliever. Along with deadline acquisition Jerry Hairston Jr., Gaudin will have to wait until Wednesday for confirmation that he will be on the postseason roster.
- When the Cardinals claimed John Smoltz off of waivers in August, no one was sure if the future-hall-of-famer had much to offer after an unsuccessful stint in Boston in which he posted an ERA over 8. However, Smoltz appears to be turning things around in St. Louis as he has posted a 4.26 ERA, 2.1 BB/9 and 9.5 K/9 in seven starts for the NL Central division champs.
- Alex Gonzalez has given a boost to the Red Sox after coming over from Cincinnati in an August trade, as he has played well in the field while posting a slash line of .285/.318/.438 in 43 games.
- Jason Giambi has thrived in his new role as a pinch hitter for the Rockies, who signed the slugger on August 23rd. In 18 games with Colorado, Giambi hit .350/.519/.700. It's safe to say that this year's NL wild-card winners will carry Giambi on the playoff roster.
- The Dodgers acquired pitcher Jon Garland via an intra-divisional trade on August 31st. Prior to that, they signed Rangers-castoff to fill-in for Hiroki Kuroda after a comebacker to the mound took him out of action. It is probable that both Padilla and Garland will find themselves on the Dodgers' playoff roster. One or both could land themselves a start in the NLDS with Kuroda shelved once-again – this time to recover from a neck injury.
- Speaking of the Dodgers, late-season acquisitions Jim Thome and Ronnie Belliard should find themselves on the playoff roster.
What other playoff-bound players added to the big league roster after the trade deadline could be poised to have a memorable postseason?