The Pirates and Angels engaged in a swap of righthanded relievers, both of whom have struggled this season to the point of being removed as closers for their respective teams. Pittsburgh ends up with Ernesto Frieri, 28, while the Angels receive 37-year-old Jason Grilli.
Each pitcher has seen his performance degrade this season, but both teams are contending in their respective divisions, so each is hoping for the classic “change-of-scenery” bump.
Ernesto Frieri, rhp
Service time (preseason): 3.101.
Originally signed by the Padres out of Colombia in 2003, Frieri blossomed upon his trade to the Angels in 2012, posting career bests in saves, but also hit rate and WHIP. Despite logging 37 saves in 2013, by far his best total, his strikeout rate slipped and his hit rate nearly doubled. Removed as closer at one point, Frieri regained it before finishing the season with a 3.80 ERA. This season, he’s had a problem with home runs, allowing eight in 31 innings, though his 38/9 SO/BB ratio is a career best. Most promising for the Bucs is they have the right to control Frieri in arbitration through 2016 and that his fastball has shown little to no dropoff in velocity, averaging 96.8 mph, according to FanGraphs.
|Los Angeles (AL)||0||3||6.39||34||11||31.0||32||22||22||8||9||38||2.61||11.03||1.32|
Jason Grilli, rhp
Service time (preseason): 7.016.
Grilli’s mostly nondescript career took a turn when the Pirates signed him as a free agent prior to 2011. From 2011-13, he compiled a 2.74 ERA in 141 innings with 12.8 strikeouts per nine innings. Installed as Pittsburgh’s closer last season, he collected 33 saves in an all-star season punctuated by a 5.7 SO/BB ratio and a WHIP of just 1.06. In 2014, however, Grilli’s SO/BB ratio slipped to 1.91 and he’s walking nearly five batters per nine. He qualifies for free agency after the season and the Angels are gambling that his veteran presence can help them overtake the Athletics in the American League West. Grilli’s fastball velocity has dropped a bit, to 92.7 from 93.3 mph, according to FanGraphs.