The Angels traded reliable left-handed reliever Scott Downs to the Atlanta Braves on Monday, an apparent sign they view their playoff chances slipping away after falling 13 games out of first place in the American League West.
In return for the Downs, the Angels will receive minor-league pitcher Cory Rasmus, who appeared in three games this season for the Braves but has spent most of his time at Triple-A Gwinnett.
Downs had a 1.84 ERA in 43 appearances this season and has been particularly tough on left-handed hitters, holding them to a collective .196 batting average.
The Angels’ decision to trade him may likely be a result of losing three of four games to the division-leading Oakland A’s and losing slugger Albert Pujols, who could miss the rest of the season after suffering a partial tear of the plantar fascia in his left foot Friday night.
Pujols is expected to miss a minimum of six weeks, by which time the Angels could be even farther back in the AL West.
Downs, 37, has been a valued member of the bullpen for three years but will become a free agent after this season. The Angels will have lefties Sean Burnett, Nick Maronde (who was recalled from Arkansas and will be active for Monday night’s game in Texas) and Michael Roth to fill the gap in the bullpen. Burnett is currently on the DL because of inflammation in his left elbow.
Rasmus, 25, was a first-round pick by the Braves in 2006 and has a career 17-22 mark in seven minor-league seasons with a 3.61 ERA. He is the brother of Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Colby Rasmus and the son of Tony Rasmus, who was drafted by the Angels in 1986.
In three appearances with the Braves, Rasmus has given up eight hits and six earned runs in 6 2/3 innings, an 8.10 ERA. He hasn’t pitched in the majors since June 18.