3 big Deadline starters set for team debuts

Bauer, Stroman, Sanchez all on tap tonight

August 3rd, 2019

Starting pitchers dominated the rumor mill entering Wednesday’s Trade Deadline, and while many of the highest profile starters (Madison Bumgarner, Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler) stayed put, three big names will climb the mound in new uniforms tonight. Here’s a quick look at each of their anticipated debuts:

, Reds (at Braves, 7:20 p.m. ET)
Acquired in three-team trade that sent OF Franmil Reyes, OF Yasiel Puig, LHP Logan Allen and Minor Leaguers Scott Moss and Victor Nova to Indians; Minor Leaguer Taylor Trammell to Padres

Tuesday marked the second time Bauer was included in a three-team trade involving Cincinnati, but this time he’ll don the red and white. It's Bauer’s first outing since he tossed a baseball over the center field fence in Kansas City, and he told MLB.com on Thursday that he’s looking forward to a “fresh start” with the Reds.

“I don’t like putting my past behind me,” said Bauer. ‘I like trying to learn from my past and be a better person, a better player, a better teammate, a better everything. It will be nice to meet new guys and start fresh, learn a new culture and contribute in any way I can, try to help out as many people as I can.”

Bauer’s eight-run start against the Royals on Saturday was a recent aberration; he went 7-2 with a 2.82 ERA over his nine prior outings, with a 76/19 strikeout to walk ratio that more closely resembled the Cy Young contender he was in 2018. Bauer’s pairing with Reds pitching coach Derek Johnson -- who he nearly worked with at Vanderbilt before ultimately committing to UCLA -- will be one to watch. He’ll also bolster a Cincinnati rotation that already ranks third in the National League with a 3.86 ERA. Ever the tinkerer, Bauer said Thursday that he wants to learn how to throw Luis Castillo’s world-class changeup -- a terrifying thought for NL hitters.

“There’s a lot of really good talent here,” said Bauer. “I’m excited to join in and learn from the guys and see if I can help in any way and just contribute to the culture of the team and win ballgames.”

, Mets (at Pirates, 7:05 p.m. ET)
Acquired from Blue Jays alongside cash considerations in exchange for Minor Leaguers Anthony Kay and Simeon Woods-Richardson

It won’t be the New York debut many envisioned for Stroman several weeks ago, but the righty joins a Mets rotation that’s carrying the club back into contention. Mets starters are 10-2 with a Major League-best 2.22 ERA and 4.1 WAR, per FanGraphs, since the All-Star break, helping the club win seven straight games and 13 of its last 18 contests overall. Stroman admitted Monday that he was “shocked” that the Mets were his ultimate Trade Deadline landing spot, but the Long Island native is sounding fully committed toward keeping his new club rolling

“Coming home is huge,” said Stroman. “So yeah, I’m excited to be a New York Met. I can’t wait to get there and be a part of it."

The Mets now stand two games under .500, with sights still set on an NL Wild Card spot after holding on to Syndergaard and Wheeler at the Deadline. The rotation's recent surge helped convince general manager Brodie Van Wagenen to add rather than subtract, and Stroman has a chance to give the Mets a legit five-man unit. He’s put together a career-best 2.96 ERA across 21 starts with the Blue Jays and returned to the worm-burning specialist he was before last year’s injury-riddled dip. Stroman’s 56.3% ground-ball rate ranks fifth among regular starters, per Statcast, and his .357 slugging percentage allowed is tied for the 11th-lowest of any pitcher with at least 15 starts.

Stroman also has a penchant for pitching well in the spotlight; he won the decisive ALDS Game 5 against Texas in 2015 and carried a no-hitter through six innings in the ‘17 World Baseball Classic final against Puerto Rico. If the Mets can keep their roll going, Stroman could get the ball in a big September matchup.

“I love competing,” he said. “When I’m between those lines, it’s kind of a different savage, a different demon that is out there. So I’m excited. If my energy rubs off on some of the guys, that would be amazing.”

, Astros (vs. Mariners, 7:10 p.m. ET)
Acquired from Blue Jays alongside RHP Joe Biagini in exchange for OF Derek Fisher

Stroman’s former rotation mate is mired in his toughest year as a big leaguer, saddled with 14 losses, an 11.3% walk rate and a 6.07 ERA that all rank dead last among qualified starters. But the Astros have built a reputation for overhauling pitchers and maximizing their strengths, and it could be a mistake to ignore Sanchez’s acquisition in the shadow of Houston’s blockbuster trade for Zack Greinke.

“I think a lot of people are overlooking [adding Sanchez],” Astros ace Justin Verlander told MLB.com Thursday. “I think he’s healthy again. I’m excited to kind of talk to him and hopefully help return him to the capability that he has. Not all myself, obviously. We have a lot of input here.”

Sanchez still has many of the tools that won him an AL ERA crown in 2016. Chief among them is his slippery curveball, which boasts one of the highest spin rates among regular starters and gets four inches more drop and five inches more break than other curves thrown at his velocity. Even in the midst of a tough season for the right-hander, opponents are hitting just .217 and slugging .370 against his breaking ball. 

If that already sounds like a pitcher the Astros would covet, you’ve obviously been paying attention to their modus operandi in recent years. 

“We’ve been interested in Sanchez for a long time,” Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow confirmed Wednesday. Whether Sanchez stays in Houston’s rotation or moves to the bullpen remains to be seen, but he showed some flashes in his most recent start Saturday against Tampa Bay, pairing 10 strikeouts with zero walks while allowing four runs over 5 2/3 innings. 

“People wonder why guys come to the Astros and pitch better,” said Verlander. “It’s no secret. We have some great pitching minds, and I think our analytic minds do a good job of letting guys know what they do well. You put all those things together and you can’t help but be better.”