This year’s MLB trade deadline was one to remember, with several stars finding new homes. While it is easy to think that positional players and big bats are what you need in October, the real unsung heroes are the elite pitching with not just the starters, but in the bullpen. Whenever your team gets in a jam, it’s critical for the bullpen to try and get out of it and keep the team in the game.
Two moves that could be really crucial for the upcoming playoffs, but not as discussed compared to the bigger names, is Mychal Givens getting dealt to the first-place Mets, and Jay Jackson getting promoted to the team nipping at the Mets’ heels. Jackson’s promotion to the defending World Champion Atlanta Braves bullpen came with the departure of both Will Smith and Jesse Chavez.
Givens started this season in Chicago with the Cubs. He spent the first six seasons of his career in Baltimore, getting traded to the Rockies back in 2020, and had brief stints with them and in Cincinnati with the Reds, before ending up on the north side of Chicago.
During his tenure in Chicago, he earned a 6-2 record, with a 2.66 ERA. The Cubs are currently 15.5 games back from the final wild card slot, so it makes sense that they would be willing to relinquish one of their best relievers.
His debut in Queens could not have gone any worse. He made his first appearance on August 3rd in D.C. and got in the game in the ninth inning with the Mets having a comfortable 9-0 lead. He gave up five runs in two-thirds of the inning and couldn’t finish the game.
He ended up pitching again on Friday against the Braves and did significantly better. He pitched one inning, giving up no runs, no hits, with just one walk in the 9-6 loss. A much-needed bounce back performance and huge confidence booster for the eight-year vet, who was obviously a bit nervous in his first outing for a contending team.
The Braves are 4.5 games behind the Mets and five games up in the wild card race, so they are still making adjustments to the roster as they chase NY.
Going down south within the division, Jackson got promoted from Triple-A Gwinnett as the trade deadline came to a close. This is the 34-year-old’s fourth run in the majors, as he played with the Padres back in 2015, then made his return in 2019 with the Brewers, once again in 2021 with the Giants, and finally now with the Braves.
With Jackson posting a 1.80 ERA in 10 appearances with the Stripers, the Braves clearly felt that they could trust him to help carry the load for one of the best bullpens in baseball. However, as he turns 35 in late October, this could very much be Jackson’s last shot to have a permanent place on an MLB roster. He has been an underdog throughout his entire career, bouncing throughout the minors, spending brief time in the majors, and part of his career in the Japanese league. It’s time for him to finally overcome that obstacle and stay up in the majors.
The NL East is going to be an absolute force in the playoffs, as it looks like both the Braves and Mets will be playing in the postseason, and the Phillies are looking like they may sneak in as well. All three teams have reasons to believe they can be in the Fall Classic, but it will be the elite bullpens that will separate the contenders from the pretenders.