A bad back and a back-breaker for Rangers in ninth inning
Kolby Allard might not have fallen out of favor with the Atlanta Braves, but others he spent time with in the minor leagues had passed him in the pitching pecking order.
For instance, Mike Soroka was a National League All-Star this season. He was drafted after Allard in the 2014 draft, albeit still in the first round.
Max Fried, Sean Newcomb and Touki Toussaint were first-rounders for others teams who were acquired after the 2014 draft. Fried is in the Braves’ rotation, Newcomb is in their bullpen, and Toussaint is at Triple A Gwinnett after opening the season in the Braves’ rotation.
That’s where Allard was Tuesday, when the Braves sent him to the Texas Rangers in a deal for right-handed reliever Chris Martin. One column written about the deal suggested the Braves gave up on the first piece of their rebuild.
Allard, though, believes he is more prepared than ever to be in a major-league rotation.
“I think this is the most confident in my career, just in the sense of knowing who I am as a pitcher and knowing what I want to do, how I want to attack guys and how I want to navigate through lineups,” he said Friday from Nashville.
“There’s a lot of great people over there and a lot of unbelievable arms. There are some decisions that aren’t in your hands as a player. There’s not much you can do, whether you like it or don’t like it. All you can do is go out there every day and be the best player you can.”
The left-hander was scheduled to make his debut in the Rangers organization Saturday with Triple A Nashville, where he was assigned following the trade. He made 20 starts at Gwinnett, going 7-5 with a 4.16 ERA in 110 innings.
Those numbers are down from his 2018 campaign, when he made his MLB debut with the Braves, but his velocity has ticked up to 91 mph to 94 mph. That might disqualify him from being a crafty left-hander, but he has a solid understanding of how to pitch and compete despite just shy of turning only 22.
Allard, whose birthday is Aug. 13, has stayed healthy during his climb through the minors. That has allowed him to continue his development without interruption.
Had he gone to college, he would likely be in High A ball.
“Age to me is just kind of a number,” Allard said. “I got into pro ball at 17 and logged quite a few innings and stayed healthy. I haven’t missed a start in a really long time, and have just gone out there every five days, being able to develop and get consistent innings.”
He vaults to the top of the Rangers’ list of advanced-level starters in the minors, joining Joe Palumbo, another lefty. Palumbo has dealing with an injured left ankle but returns from in the injured list Sunday at Nashville.
If the Rangers’ busy Friday is any indication, they might want Allard to make a few August starts before he runs against a potential innings limit.
There certainly is more opportunity for him with the Rangers than the Braves.
“I’m really, really excited,” Allard said. “I think it’s an opportunity where they want to have some young guys to step up and come up, and I think I’m in a good position to do that. All I want to do is get up there and win ballgames, and, obviously, the Rangers feel the same way.”