Right-hander Oliver Drake, whom the Brewers designated for assignment on Tuesday, has been traded to the Indians for cash considerations. The move was announced by Milwaukee via its Twitter account. The Indians have yet to announce a corresponding move.
On the surface, it’s not difficult to understand why the Brewers designated Drake for assignment; he sports an alarming 6.70 ERA on the season while walking a whopping 8 batters in just 12 2/3 innings on the young season. But while the walk rate is certainly a valid concern, the bloated ERA can be blamed in part on an absurd .400 batting average on balls in play against the righty. That’s been one contributing factor towards a 59.1% strand rate; league average usually sits around 70-72%, while Drake’s career average comes in just under that range at 67.7%. In short, he certainly has nobody to blame but himself for the runners he put on base via free passes, but he’s also suffered from some considerably poor fortune as far as those runners crossing the plate.
The positive signs offer some encouragement for Drake’s outlook with his new club. His 10.66 K/9 so far is a career-high mark, about a batter per nine above his career rate of 10.11. He’s also induced ground balls from 52.9% of opposing hitters this season, which sits just outside the top 25% of qualified relievers in MLB. And while Drake’s 6.70 ERA on the year is an eyesore, his 2.70 FIP is a much more palatable figure and suggests he’s likely to make some improvements in the run-prevention arena.
If he can just improve his control a bit, it’s certainly possible the Indians could end up with another surprise diamond in the rough, as they did last year with both Nick Goody and Tyler Olson. That would be a welcome sigh of relief for a club that’s feeling the pains of losing relief ace Andrew Miller to the DL; their bullpen sports an ERA north of nine in his absence and has shuffled through a small army of relievers in the past four days alone (as MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian recently noted). Regardless of whether Drake can perform at a high level, it’s a low-risk move for a club in desperate need of some stability in its relief corps.