Rays right-hander Jeremy Hellickson had a clean 12-pitch first inning in this ALDS Game 4 in Tampa Bay, but he allowed back-to-back walks to David Ortiz and Mike Napoli to open the top of the second and then a Daniel Nava single loaded the bases and abruptly drove the Rays starter from the game.
It’s a wonder — given the obvious lack of faith and poor regular season output — why Hellickson drew this assignment in the first place. But credit Tampa Bay for the pulling the plug right away. The Rays escaped damage in the second when Jamey Wright fanned Jarrod Saltalamacchia and James Loney turned a heads-up doubleplay on a hard Stephen Drew lineout. Matt Moore entered in the top of the third to do some inning-eating.
Red Sox starter Jake Peavy has thrown up zeroes through his easy first four frames.
It’s a 0-0 deadlock as the top of the fifth inning gets underway at Tropicana Field.
Barring physicals and roster reshuffling, the Yankees and Reds are all but ready to finalize a deal involving right-hander Sonny Gray, Fancred’s Jon Heyman reported Saturday. The exact return has not been confirmed, but Heyman hears that the Yankees will receive top infield prospect Shed Long and a draft pick in exchange for Gray, with an as-yet unnamed third player possibly involved as well.
According to several reports earlier in the day, negotiations came down to the wire as the Yankees first had their eye on the Reds’ no. 6 prospect, 22-year-old catcher Tyler Stephenson. The Reds ultimately elected to hang on to Stephenson and send Long to New York, as they currently have a greater need for catching depth and weren’t expected to be able to provide a full-time role for the infielder in 2019. Long, 23, is ranked seventh in the Reds’ system and appears to be nearing his MLB debut after batting .261/.353/.412 with 12 homers and a .765 OPS across 522 PA at Double-A Pensacola last year.
Gray figures to step into a prominent role within the Reds’ rotation, which is likely to be a mix of recently-acquired left-hander Alex Wood and right-handers Tanner Roark, Luis Castillo, Anthony DeSclafani, and Tyler Mahle, among several others. Despite Gray’s struggle to remain productive on the mound — he’s three years removed from his only All-Star campaign and turned in a disappointing 4.90 ERA and 2.16 SO/BB rate in 2018 — he might yet help stabilize a team that trotted out the fifth-worst rotation in the majors last season. If, on the other hand, the veteran righty finds the hitter-friendly confines of Great American Ball Park a little too unforgiving this year, the Reds can take some comfort in the fact that he’s due to enter free agency in 2020.