As most will know the Braves traded Cory Rasmus to the Angels for veteran lefty reliever Scott Downs. In a related move the Braves designated Kameron Loe for assignment and activated Downs this afternoon. Who is Scott Downs and what did we give up to get him?
Downs was a sought after pitcher in high school and drafted by the Atlanta Braves in the 12th round of the 1994 amateur draft. He chose not to sign and instead attended the University of Kentucky. The Cubs drafted him in third round of the 1997 draft. In November of 98 The Cubs sent him to the Twins to complete a trade for Mike Morgan. That was a short stay as in May of 99 the Twins sent him back to the Cubs along with Rick Aguilera for Kyle Lohse and Jason Ryan. Downs made his major league debut for the Cubs in 2000 starting 18 games before being traded to Montreal for Rondell White. Unfortunately he made only one start for the Expos before being sidelined due to TJ surgery. He made only one start in 2003 and just 12 in 2004 for the Expos. By November of 2004 the Expos had morphed into the Nationals who were unimpressed by his 5.19 ERA and 1.691 WHIP and released him.
In December of that year the Blue Jays signed him as a free agent. he started 13 of the 26 games he appeared in for Toronto in 2005 finishing with a 4.31 ERA and a 1.351 WHIP. In 2006 he started five games but the Jays found him to be better as a reliever. He appeared in 54 games in relief recording five wins, seven holds and one save while blowing 3 save opportunities. As a reliever he allowed 11 of 38 inherited runners to score lowered his ERA to 4.09 and his WHIP edged down as well to 1.338. In 2007 Downs was the workhorse of the Jays staff appearing in a league best 81 games putting up a 2.17 ERA and a 1.224 WHIP and finishing with a 2.0 WAR. Between 2007 and 2010 he appeared in 262 games in relief for Toronto posting a 2.36 ERA and a 1.149 WHIP in 236 2/3 innings averaging 7.8K and 3BB per nine innings. A free agent after the 2010 season Downs signed with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. During his time with the Angels he appeared in 160 games posting a 2.10 ERA and a 1.174 WHIP in 128 innings pitched on his way to a 3.6WAR.
As Alan and eluded to earlier, Downs is having a fine year pitching to a 1.84 ERA, 1.261 WHIP and a 1.2 WAR so far. He’s held hitters to .318 slugging this year allowing only one home run and 5 doubles while striking out 22 and walking 11. Much of that success can be attributed to his 63.1% groundball and 15,5% fly ball percentage. Downs will keep them in the park and those ground balls also create double plays, he’s induce seven so far this year. While Downs has never pitched in the post season he won’t be awed by being there either. The Angels are always in high pressure games and his experience in those will help him be a steadying influence on Luis Avilan, Anthiny Varvaro and the rest of the relief corps.
The Changes To Our Roster
Sending Cory Rasmus to the Angels didn’t hurt or pitching depth even though Downs is 37 and can walk after this year. While his stuff is good Rasmus showed little evidence of being much more than a generic right handed middle reliever. There’s nothing wrong with that but we have plenty of those in the system. Kameron Loe was designated for assignment and will likely clear waivers and accept assignment to Gwinnett.
Kameron Loe cleared waivers today and was outrighted returned to Gwinnett.
That’s A Wrap
The addition of Scott Downs reinforces our bullpen and relieves the strain on Luis Avilan’s left arm. While Cory Rasmus wasn’t in our plans, the Angels were losing Downs at the end of the year and Rasmus helps them rebuild a stumbling bullpen. This was a good trade for both teams. As I write this Brandon Beachy’s return has been less than stellar but that’s par for the course when coming back from TJ surgery. They have good games and bad games; control is sharp one night and missing the next. Expecting the Beachy of 2011 to instantly appear was a false hope. On top of that Kris Medlen is struggling. Alex Wood is not ready for prime time during a pennant race and we have no idea which Paul Maholm will appear when he’s again ready to start. The market is very thin but the waiver wire could well produce some surprises in August. Let’s hope we get one as pleasant as today’s trade.