When a trade deadline move is made for a starting pitcher and a reliever, often that reliever is seen as the “thrown-in.“
In 2015 when the Rangers traded for then-Phillies ace Cole Hamels, lefty Jake Diekman came along with and pitched parts of four seasons out of the Texas pen before being dealt to the Arizona Diamondbacks at the 2018 deadline.
Flash Forward to 2023, and the Rangers struck a deal with the St Louis Cardinals at the deadline for lefty Jordan Montgomery and “thrown in” Chris Stratton.
Stratton is an eight-year veteran who has bounced around, spending the majority of his playing days with the Giants and the Padres but now finds himself as a 32-year-old helping stabilize the Rangers bullpen as they get set to make a playoff push.
Upon being traded to Texas, Stratton said:
“Been a little bit of a whirlwind with trying to get the family and everything together, but overall just really excited and hope to help this team out in the best way we can.”
Despite never being a Texas Ranger before, Stratton is somewhat familiar with the organization and the people running it.
While playing in San Francisco from 2016-2018, Stratton was managed by none other than current Rangers manager Bruce Bochy, and when he was with St Louis for parts of this season and last season, his pitching coach was none other than Mike Maddux.
“He [Mike Maddux] has the old school mentality, and I think the game, the way that it’s headed and the analytics, I think it’s been big to have that old school mentality to fall back on and having Boch [Bruce Bochy] back as well, both those guys know how to win,” Stratton said.
Coming into a bullpen that ranks near the bottom of Major League Baseball in almost every category is certainly no easy task, but Stratton’s early returns have been solid.
Since joining the Rangers, Stratton has thrown 6.2 innings, only allowing three hits and not giving up a single run. Even more impressive is that every one of his four outings has lasted more than one inning.
So far, so good for the new Rangers reliever, but if Stratton can continue his success down the stretch, that will be huge for the Texas bullpen that has struggled from the beginning this year.