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MLB Trade Deadline 2013: Comparing the traveling relievers

Five relievers have new teams so far.

No coach, I can't spell the name of that lefty in Cleveland either.
No coach, I can't spell the name of that lefty in Cleveland either.
Jason Miller

Jesse Crain, Scott Downs, Jose Veras, Brian Wilson, and Marc Rzepczynski will all try to help new teams down the stretch. Let's take a look at who best bolstered their bullpen.

Jesse Crain

The Rays picked up Crain from the White Sox for "future considerations," which will be either a PTBNL, or cash. Based on recent form he's the best of the bunch, but there's a catch: he's on the disabled list. Crain is eligible to come off the DL any time now, so it will just be a matter of when the Rays think he's ready to come in and help, and when they're ready to shake up the roster.

Scott Downs

Downs's peripherals have shrunk dramatically since he left the Blue Jays to ply his trade in Anaheim, but his ERA hasn't. I really couldn't tell you why or if it's sustainable, so I'll go with a qualified "no." I think his Steamer projection looks a tad optimistic, but he does have a decently large platoon split going for him, so if he's no longer an all-purpose shutdown reliever, he'll still have value.

Jose Veras

Veras has cut his walk rate almost in half this season, but a long history of control problems belies his seemingly new-found accuracy. Still, he's got the arm to blow people away, so he's made the equation work before, and he'll continue to do so. A low release point and a truly sweeping curve make Veras the relatively rare right hander with a large platoon split. That's a liability as a starter or an all-purpose reliever, but with a good manager at the helm it becomes an asset. Is Jim Leyland a good manager? Evan Longoria will not be happy to see Veras in the hypothetical playoffs, but there are plenty of left-handed bats available to be spread throughout the Rays lineup.

Brian Wilson

Wilson has been out of baseball with an elbow injury since the start of the 2012 season. The Dodgers hope they're getting the beard in all of its glory, but your guess is as good as mine. They signed him as a free agent, though, so the cost is just money and a roster spot.

Marc Rzepczynski

Rzepczynski is a valuable reliever, despite his ugly 2013 7.84 ERA. He's become the most extreme of LOOGYs, as nearly all of the damage against him has come via right-handed bats. This season his xFIP against righties has been 5.64. Against lefties it's been 1.92, and that's not far off what one would expect from him given the rest of his career. In a playoff race, a guy who can come in and neutralize a lefty-handed slugger in a high leverage situation can save a season.

Here are the Steamer projections, from FanGraphs, for each pitcher going forward (split is my own estimation, nothing too mathematical or objective).

Reliever K/9 BB/9 ERA FIP Split
Jesse Crain 10.26 3.67 3.10 3.62 Medium, RHP
Scott Downs 7.24 3.16 3.26 3.35 Large, LHP
Jose Veras 8.91 4.01 3.66 3.92 Large, RHP
Brian Wilson 8.69 3.77 3.44 3.54 Neutral, RHP
Marc Rzepczynski 7.04 3.73 3.78 3.69 Extreme, LHP

I happen to think that Crain is the best of the bunch here, but his health is a major caveat. None of the acquiring teams needed to give up very much to get these guys, and all of them can likely help down the stretch. Upgrading the bullpen at the deadline seems to be easy and painless this year.

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