In November of 2014, the Oakland Athletics and Toronto Blue Jays swapped third basemen. Brett Lawrie, after playing his entire career with the Blue Jays, packed a pair of swim trunks for the West Coast while Josh Donaldson, after playing his entire career with the Athletics, purchased a few sweaters en route to America's Northern neighbor.
The Athletics received three additional players in exchange for its' All Star slugger including pitchers Kendall Graveman and Sean Nolin as well as middle infielder Franklin Barreto. Graveman, following a 2014 season in which he pitched at five different levels, was considered a key piece in the transaction.
In his 2014 campaign, Graveman dominated the Minor Leagues (posting a 1.83 ERA in 27 starts, while striking out 115 and only walking 31) before the Blue Jays summoned him to their bullpen as one of the team's September callups. In five appearances out of the bullpen, Graveman threw 4.2 innings and gave up two earned runs without issuing a single walk.
After an impressive 2015 Spring Training with his new team (0.36 ERA in 25.1 innings) the Athletics named Graveman the team's fifth starter. However, in his first four big league starts this season, Graveman was nothing short of disastrous. In 16.1 innings, Graveman surrendered 24 hits, allowed 15 earned runs, and earned himself a one-way plane ticket to the team's Triple-A affiliate in Nashville.
Following his demotion, Graveman found success in four starts for the Sounds, posting a 1.85 ERA in 24.1 innings. With Drew Pomeranz finding himself on the 15-day disabled list with a shoulder sprain, Graveman will get a second chance opportunity today to prove that he belongs in the Show.
The Athletics send Graveman to the mound to face the Tampa Bay Rays' Nathan Karns in a Saturday afternoon matchup at the Trop. The Rays look to win their third straight game and clinch their seventh series victory of the season. First pitch is at 4:10 eastern time
Graveman is capable of throwing six pitches, though he uses a mid-70s curveball very sparingly. Graveman's arsenal features a four-seam and two-seam fastball in the low 90s, a slider and changeup in the mid-80s, and a cutter that averages around 88 mph.
Graveman is a finesse pitcher, relying not on speed but location. Pitching to contact, Graveman doesn't strikeout a lot of batters and he is consistently around the zone, walking only 49 batters in nearly 213 innings between 2014 and 2015.
Graveman attacks the lower third of the strike zone with fastballs before throwing his off-speed pitches in an attempt to catch the batters off balance and make them chase pitches out of the zone.
Other Rays Notes:
-Interesting, yet unsurprising, data reported by Jayson Stark over at ESPN. Stark's article examines the financial ramifications of cutting baseball's regular season to 154 games, noting that teams would be disproportionately affected by the shorter season and loss of four home games.
According to the article, the New York Yankees would stand to lose $11.48 million in ticket sales and ballpark revenue if the team were to play four fewer games at Yankee stadium. Meanwhile, the Rays would stand to lose only $2.27 million for four less games at the Trop.
-Matt Moore saw some action earlier today.
-And in case you missed last night's news, Beckham is headed to the minors.
#Rays option Beckham to Durham, will call up Enny Romero— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) May 23, 2015