Atlanta Braves Strengthen Bullpen by Acquiring LHP Scott Downs

By Rob Holden
Scott Downs
Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Braves acquired LHP Scott Downs on Monday in a trade with the Los Angeles Angels.

Atlanta parted ways with RHP Cory Rasmus to acquire Downs in a classic trade that saw youth exchanged for experience. Downs, 37, has posted a 1.84 ERA so far in 29.1 IP. And while his workload has been relatively light this season, it cannot be overlooked that from May 5 to July 23, Downs rattled off a string of 29 consecutive scoreless appearances.

Rasmus, 25, made only three appearances for the Braves this season, throwing 6.2 innings and posting an 8.10 ERA.

While the trade may seem to heavily favor the Braves, it is one that makes sense in light of both teams’ current situations. The Angels are all but statistically eliminated from the playoff race at 13 games back in the AL West. And with big-name players under-performing (Josh Hamilton) and battling injury (Albert Pujols), the Angels are doing exactly what they should be at the trade deadline: selling and trying to get younger.

The Braves, on the other hand, get a pitcher in Downs who has 12 years of bullpen experience. Since 2007, Downs has only once finished one season with an ERA over 3.00, and has twice had a WHIP of 1.100 or lower. While his strikeout numbers are not what the Braves are used to seeing out of the bullpen, the fact that Downs is left-handed is perhaps his best attribute; he will join Luis Ayala as the only lefties in the Braves pen.

It is likely that Downs will share the setup role with Jordan Walden, but regardless of his exact role, adding a left-handed arm to the bullpen is exactly what the Braves needed.

If there is one downside to Downs, it is that he has never before pitched in the postseason. But with 12 years of experience under his belt, it is unlikely he will experience a breakdown in the playoffs. This acquisition moves the Braves one step closer to being the championship team they so desperately want to be.

Rob Holden is an Atlanta Braves writer for Follow him on Twitter @RobMHolden, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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