ARLINGTON, Texas, 20 August - Melbourne Aces pitcher Travis Blackley is once more headed back to the big leagues and will continue his wild 2013 season by making Tuesday night’s start for the Texas Rangers opposite his most recent team, the Houston Astros.
Blackley began 2013 as a member of the Oakland Athletics but was designated for assignment after a troublesome spring training. The Astros acquired him in an April 4 trade and added him to their big league club. There, the former Cheltenham Rustlers star appeared in 42 games for the Astros, posting a 1-1 record and a 4.89 ERA for a struggling Houston club that owns Major League Baseball’s worst record at 41-82.
On 15 August, though, Blackley went from worst to first when the Rangers, who lead the American League West, acquired him in a trade with Houston. Blackley pitched that night for Triple-A Round Rock, tossing three scoreless innings against Tacoma, and hasn’t pitched since, setting the stage for his promotion back to the big leagues.
The Rangers will reportedly purchase Blackley’s contract Tuesday and make a corresponding move to clear a roster spot for him at that time.
Through parts of three ABL seasons with Melbourne, the 30-year-old Victorian has pitched in 13 games for the Aces. Most recently, Blackley pitched in three games during the 2012/13 season and posted a 2.70 earned run average.
In his big league career, Blackley has made 23 major league starts for the Seattle Mariners, San Francisco Giants, and Athletics. This year, as a reliever, Blackley has been strongest against left-handed hitters, allowing just a .200 average in 60 at bats to southpaw batters.
Today’s news provides an intriguing dynamic to the race for the American League West division title. Blackley spent last season as a key piece to the Oakland’s run to an unlikely division crown, pitching an early-October gem against the Rangers to put the A’s into a one-game, winner-take-all contest for the division. The Athletics prevailed on that day, as well, with Sydneysider Grant Balfour sealing the game’s final outs to send Oakland to the MLB playoffs.
Should Blackley carve out a permanent role with the Rangers, his club will face Balfour’s Athletics six times between September 2-15. Entering Monday night’s games, the Rangers are 0.5 games up on the Athletics for first place in the AL West.