With the bullpen struggling through three games, Jeff Luhnow went to get help from his new division mates. Since Luhnow has decided that he needs a new AL trading partner after the league switch, he has picked Billy Beane to be his partner (sorry Ruben Amaro Jr.). So with Beane on speed dial, the Astros worked out a trade in which they acquired Travis Blackley for Jake Goebbert.
So who is Travis Blackley? Blackley, 30, was born in Australia. He has been a west-coast guy (when in the MLB) throughout most of his career, and has been in the majors just a few times before 2012. In 2004, Blackley struggled in six starts (10.04 ERA) for the Mariners. In 2007, he struggled in two starts (7.27 ERA) for the Giants. He then spent time in the minor leagues for the Phillies, D-Backs, Mets, and A’s until 2010. When the A’s didn’t work out, Blackley tried out the Melbourne Aces, and then the KIA Tigers (Korea).
In 2012 the Giants signed him to a minor-league contract. After pitching four games, all in relief, the Giants designated him for assignment. The Athletics picked him up a few days later, and he stayed with the A’s the rest of the year. Blackley had a 3.86 ERA and 1.18 WHIP in 15 starts (24 games) for the A’s in 2012.
Luhnow mentioned that the Astros will be facing many left-handed hitters, so having a lefty long-reliever is something that is good to have with four out of five starters being righty. In his career, Blackley has held righties to a .269 AVG and lefties to a .243 AVG.
In trading away Goebbert, the Astros did not lose much. Goebbert was drafted in the 13th-round in 2009, and has yet to make the majors. The 25-year old carries a .285 AVG and .793 OPS in over 1500 AB’s in the minors. Goebbert is likely no more than a 4th or 5th OF in the majors, and with the depth the Astros currently have, Goebbert was more than expendable.
The Astros will need to clear a spot on the 40-man roster before Friday’s game for Blackley. Blackley hasn’t pitched in around two weeks, so I wouldn’t expect to see him until Saturday or Sunday the earliest.
Travis Blackley’s (verified) Twitter account: @Travis_Blackley