Tigers, Nationals swap hard-throwing relievers

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It’s a challenge trade: the Tigers and Nationals pulled off an exchange of right-handed relievers Ryan Perry and Collin Balester on Friday.

The trade is a bit more surprising from Detroit’s point of view, but it appears that the Tigers soured on Perry as last year went along, even though he pitched better in the second half than the first. Perry, the 21st overall pick in the 2008 draft, ended the year with a 5.35 ERA and a 24/21 K/BB ratio in 37 innings. Overall, he has a 4.07 ERA and a 129/82 K/BB ratio in 161 1/3 innings as a major leaguer.

Balester is viewed more of a flop than Perry, but he also has the better raw stuff; while both tend to throw in the 93-95 mph range, Balester’s curveball is a superior offering to Perry’s slider. It shows in the strikeout numbers, as Balester has fanned 62 in 56 2/3 innings of relief over the last two years.

Balester, though, has more of a wild streak than Perry. He’s also out of options, whereas Perry still has an option year left. That definitely played a role in the Nationals’ thinking here, as they had at least five relievers ahead of Balester on the depth chart.

Personally, I’d give the edge to the Tigers. Perry’s upside appears quite limited at this point, and while he may be a better bet to give a team 65 acceptable innings than Balester, I’d take my chances with Balester fulfilling his potential one of the years. He’s only been a full-time reliever for 1 2/3 seasons now.

Curtis Granderson chipped his tooth sliding into second base

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Brewers outfielder Curtis Granderson got his first hit of the postseason on Wednesday night in the top of the ninth inning of NLCS Game 5. Facing Ryan Madson with a runner on third base and two outs, Granderson laced a 3-2 fastball to the gap in right-center field. Granderson hustled into second base to beat the throw by Yasiel Puig. He slid head-first and his helmet slid off in the process. The helmet, unfortunately, bounced off the second base bag back towards Granderson’s face, hitting him in the mouth and chipping his front tooth.

To his credit, Granderson is taking the accident in stride:

At least Granderson doesn’t play hockey for a living.