In baseball, trades can be tricky things. If you have an excellent scouting department, then risk lessens, but certainly not always. Sometimes, lightening strikes and a gem, that wasn’t necessarily your first target, turns out to be the best player in the trade. More and more, it is looking like the Rays are getting the better of the trade that sent Alex Torres and Jesse Hahn to San Diego in return for Logan Forsythe , Matt Lollis, Matt Andriese, Maxx Tissenbaum, and Brad Boxberger .
How, you say? Forsythe has been okay, and Andriese, Tissenbaum, and Lollis are all to be determined, but where the Rays struck gold was Brad Boxberger. The 26-year old former first round pick by the Cincinnati Reds has not only been good this season for the Rays, he has been lights out. Teaming with Jake McGee, if they Rays have a lead going into the 8th inning, the game is more than likely over. The quiet Boxberger goes about his business with no muss and no fuss. He just gets people out.
It feels like Boxberger came out of nowhere. Well, he basically did. Boxberger did not even break camp with the Rays out of spring training, mainly due to some command and command issues that needed work in the minors. He didn’t have to wait long for his shot though. Called up on the 14th of April and later taking a permanent spot in the ‘pen in May, Boxberger has made a living working in high-pressure situations for Joe Maddon.
In 53 innings this year, Boxberger has posted a 1.87 ERA and struck out 86. Opponents are hitting a measly .141 against Boxberger and are a decrepit 0-9 with 6 strikeouts with the bases loaded. Not convinced? Batters are hitting .050 with two outs and runners in scoring position and the 3-6 hitters are hitting a ridiculous .155 against Boxberger. His 14.2 K/9 is outstanding, and his 2.8 BB/9 shows he has made huge strides with his control. Did I mention Boxberger doesn’t give up runs? Since June 29, in 25.2 innings, Boxberger has faced 86 batters, struck out 46% of them, surrendered 8 hits, and allowed just1 run.
On Friday against the New York Yankees, Boxberger surrendered a single to Derek Jeter to load the bases with one out. He came back and struck out the next batter, Jacoby Ellsbury, before dropping a changeup on Mark Teixeira that the slugger just looked at. Danger averted. It has been that changeup that been a key to Boxberger’s success. Joe Maddon compares it to former Rays closer Fernando Rodney.
Though this has been a less than stellar season for the Rays, they have found plenty of positives that they can build on. In Brad Boxberger, they found a reliever that took only a few months to establish himself as a late-inning presence, and he is under control for another five years after 2014. Relievers do not get much more valuable than that.