2 trade targets to help Tampa Bay Rays shore up pitching

With the MLB trade deadline right around the corner, here are the targets Tampa Bay should pursue before time runs out.
Kansas City Royals v Tampa Bay Rays
Kansas City Royals v Tampa Bay Rays / Douglas P. DeFelice/GettyImages

The MLB trade deadline is Aug. 1st and many teams will be looking to make moves that will put them over the edge down the home stretch of the regular season.

The Tampa Bay Rays are in a comfortable spot. They currently sit at the top of the AL East with a 60-37 record. However, there has been some tribulations since their unbelievable 13-0 start. So, here are some players they can do after before the deadline expires.

The Rays are in need of pitchers. They need both starters and relievers due to injuries in the starting rotation and instability this season within the bullpen. Both Jeffrey Springs and Drew Rasmussen are undergoing season-ending procedures on injuries in their elbows which leaves the list of starters they have really short. As for the bullpen, they are not the worst in the league but they have not been great with a 17 blown saves this season which is tied for the 5th worst amount in the majors.

So, here is some possible targets for the team come the deadline.

Starting Pitcher: RHP Paul Blackburn

It is relatively obvious that Paul Blackburn is on a team that is going to be selling. The Athletics have the worst record in baseball at 25-71 and will look to gain some future prospects which Tampa Bay has.

The ERA and other stats may not jump off of the page, but he has a very impressive chase rate which sits in the 88th percentile in the majors. He excells at hitting the edges of the strike zone to sneak baseballs past opposing batters and three of his four most common pitches in his arsenal are breaking balls.

His sinker and 4-seam fastball have a similar velocity (~91 mph) that creates great decpetion on the mound.

He also has appeared in only 9 games and 42.2 innings meaning he is relatively fresh. This plays well into a pitching staff that is often plagued with injuries.

Relief Pitcher: RHP Julian Merryweather

This trade asset would depend on whether or not the Cubs are buyers or sellers. At 8.5 games back from the wild card in the National League, it is not far-fetched to think they could sell. If this is the case, the Rays have good reasons to go after reliver Julian Merryweather.

A 2-0 record and a 3.63 ERA are decent enough, however he has a strikeout rate that sits in the top 10% of the MLB and has 54 total punchouts in 39.2 innings pitched.

One of the ways he puts up numbers like that is how he switches up his strategy against lefties and righties at the plate. He throws a good, down-breaking slider against righties. But he then switches it up against lefties with a high velocity fastball that sits at right around 98 mph.

Merryweather could add stability with the great season he is having to a Rays bullpen that has shown cracks in its foundation with a relatively high amount of blown saves.