If you’re looking for under-the-radar relief options, the Atlanta Braves might consider taking a flier on this one.
His bullpen mate Kendall Graveman will certainly get the most attention from teams, but as it happens, the Mariners have the second-best bullpen WAR in all of baseball right now, so they are clearly getting the job done with multiple arms.
So rather than putting all eggs into a single basket with Graveman, perhaps Atlanta might do just as well by checking in on some of his teammates. Chagois is good one; Paul Sewald is another.
Sewald is in the midst of a surprising break-out season. He’s been in and out of the majors since 2017, logging just 169 total innings (mostly with the Mets). But he’s also got the experience of a 31-year-old journeyman with 330 minor league innings since 2012.
Still, it seems that he learned something in the last few months… or maybe something else is going on?
Sewald’s got hitters making some of the weakest contact in the game (25th percentile) with a below-average fastball that has 84th percentile spin on it.
So the first thing you’d naturally think is “we better check his stats since the sticky stuff ban happened.”
Okay, here they are:
- 4 outings since June 23rd
- 3.2 innings
- 1 hit, 1 walks, 10 strikeouts, no runs.
- 3 of the outings saw him face minimum number of hitters
For the year — his 1st Mariners game was May 16 — he’s only allowed a single run since June 1st — and no earned runs since then, either.
A record of 38 strikeouts in 21.1 innings and a 1.015 WHIP is enough to get some attention, even among relievers without a lengthy track record of success. But it seems that Mr. Sewald may have figured something out via just a fastball and a slider… and it isn’t sticky
It’s also noteworthy the Sewald has been getting better as the season has progressed.
Sewald’s price shouldn’t be that high, though he wouldn’t come as a rental arm: he would be arbitration-eligible (under current rules) for the next 3 seasons. But at age 31, it’s difficult to judge just how productive those seasons might be.
Atlanta Braves might consider a package deal
When we discussed Chagois, the idea of combining multiple players in a trade package for him. While that would generally imply adding Mitch Haniger, Sewald’s name might be on the table as well in this context.
So Haniger, Chagois, and Sewald? That would be a heckuva trade package to consider.
Because Sewald appears to be a flash-in-the-pan/selling-high kind of guy, he’s not the kind of relief pitcher you trade for as a single option. As it happens, they would do well to get a couple of arms this month in any case.
[NOTE: As of Monday morning (7/5), Seattle is just 3.5 games out of Wild Card contention. Don’t look for them to be eager to sell… not yet.]
If the Braves think Sewald is worth it as an add-on piece — perhaps with other Mariners — then it could turn into a nice deal for them. But he’s probably not the first option (and definitely not the only option) that they should try for this month.