Rangers Find Some Pitching In Wells

The Rangers already had bolstered their offense with the acquisitions of Carlos Lee and Matt Stairs. Just before Monday’s trade deadline, they made a move to shore up their starting pitching as well. Texas acquired Kip Wells from the Pirates for Triple-A righthander Jesse Chavez.

Wells, a 29-year-old righthander, has gone 1-5, 6.69 in 36 innings over seven starts for the Pirates since returning in mid-June from surgery on a blocked artery in his right shoulder. He has pitched his best in the weeks leading up to the deadline, going 1-1, 1.83 over his last three starts and posting a 3.16 ERA in 26 July innings. Wells challenges hitters with a low-90s fastball and a tight curveball, though his command lapses at times. He’s not dominating anyone, however, as his 16-18 K-BB ratio, .319 opponent average and three homers allowed will attest. Wells signed a one-year, $4.15 million contract before the season to avoid arbitration, and he’s eligible for free agency after the season. The former White Sox first-round pick has a career 56-74, 4.45 record in 195 games.

Chavez, 22, signed as a 42nd-round draft-and-follow out of Riverside (Calif.) CC in 2003. He struggled as a starter during his first two pro seasons before finding his niche as a power reliever in high Class A last year. He went 2-5, 4.42 with four saves in 38 games at Double-A Frisco this year before earning a promotion to Triple-A Oklahoma on Saturday. He had a 70-28 K-BB ratio in 59 innings at Frisco, with opponents hitting .245 with five homers against him. His 6-foot-2, 153-pound build and quick arm evoke Julian Tavarez and Shigetoshi Hasegawa, and he profiles similarly. Chavez’s best pitch is a 92-94 mph fastball that has touched 96, and he complements it with a fringe-average slider. His durability remains a concern because of his slight frame, but he could be in line for a September callup with the Pirates.

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