Image credit: Kolby Allard (Photo by Brian Westerholt/Four Seam Images)
The Braves fortified their bullpen in a late trade Tuesday night, acquiring 6-foot-8 righthander Chris Martin from the Rangers in exchange for lefthanded pitching prospect Kolby Allard.
Martin joins a Braves bullpen that has rebounded from its early-season struggles to post a 3.99 ERA, eighth-best in MLB. Allard ranked as the Braves’ No. 12 prospect.
Kolby Allard, LHP
The 14th overall pick in 2015, Allard quickly rose ascended the minors and made his major league debut last year as a touch-and-feel lefty. His 88-90 mph fastball got exposed for its lack of velocity against major league hitters—he surrendered 19 hits in 11 earned runs in eight innings—and he has spent all of this year at Triple-A Gwinnett. Allard is throwing a tick harder this year and has added a cutter to his repertoire to give hitters another wrinkle to think about. His above-average curveball and average changeup are still intact, and his strikeout rate (8.0 K/9) is the highest it has been since his first full season in 2016. Allard is still giving up more than a hit per inning and Triple-A and needs to find a little more velocity to survive as a back-end starter, but his youth, pitch mix and above-average control give him a solid foundation to work from.
Chris Martin, RHP
The late-blooming Martin had a career 5.31 ERA—wrapped around a two-year stint in Japan—entering this season before breaking out. He’s posted with a 3.08 ERA and 43 strikeouts against just four walks in 38 innings this season and has been especially dominant recently with two runs allowed in his last 12 appearances. Martin relies heavily on his mid-to-upper 90s fastball and keeps the ball on the ground half the time. He has primarily pitched in a setup role this year, but his power fastball and ability to pound the strike zone this year have allowed him to fill in as a closer and convert four of five save opportunities. Martin will slide into late relief with the Braves. Signed to a two-year, $4 million contract prior to 2018, he will be a free agent at the end of this season.