Milwaukee Brewers: Second Tier Starting Pitching Trade Options
By Dan Larsen
Beyond the two players we just discussed, there could be a few others that may find their way onto the market if circumstances change.
Joey Lucchesi, LHP, San Diego Padres
Joey Lucchesi has emerged since his debut last season as a solid middle of the rotation starter.
Lucchesi pitched 130 innings over 23 starts last season while posting an ERA of 4.08. This year, he’s built off of that solid debut by pitching to a 3.92 ERA over 101 innings.
Though his K/9 rate is down from last season (8.55 compared to 10.04), he’s made improvements thus far in his BB/9 (2.50 from 2.98 in 2018), home runs given up (1.16 compared to 1.59 last year), and reducing the amount of hard contact he’s given up (34.4% compared to 40.6% last season). His groundball profile (47.6% of the balls put in play against him) would fit well at Miller Park.
Given his improvement, and the fact that he’s just 26 and in his second year of control, there’s likely no way for a trade to work. The Padres may rightfully view him as a key part of the contention window which they may just be entering now.
If, for some reason, the Padres were open to moving him, the Brewers may not find a better left-handed controllable starter who’s had some success in the Major Leagues
Tanner Roark, RHP, Cincinnati Reds
Tanner Roark has been a solid innings eating starter now for several seasons. He’s been doing what he has for most of his career again for the Reds in 2019.
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Roark hasn’t gone as deep into games (5.38 innings per start) this year as in past seasons, but his other stats are very good. Roark is averaging a career best in K/9 (8.81) with walk (2.88 per/9) and home run numbers (1.21 per/9) that are in line with his career averages. His ERA sits at a respectable 3.99, his best mark since 2016.
One concern with Roark is that he’s giving up hard contact at a career high rate this season. Roark was among the best in the Majors at limiting hard contact on batted balls in play (he consistently had numbers in the mid 20s). This year, he’s near the middle of the pack with a hard contact rate of 37.3%. Opponents are also hitting a incredible amount of line drives off of him (27.8%).
Given that the Reds have lifted themselves back into the heart of the NL Central and Wild Card picture, Roark is unlikely to move. If he did, he could make a decent low-cost rental.
Pablo Lopez, RHP, Miami Marlins
Pablo Lopez has emerged as a solid rotation option on a struggling Miami Marlins team.
Lopez made his debut just last season, posting 4.14 ERA over 58 2/3 innings.
In 2019, he’s built off of his solid debut season. Though his ERA is slightly higher than a season ago (4.23), he’s significantly improved his strikeout numbers (8.57 per/9 compared to 7.06 last season), walks (2.11 per/9 compared to 2.76 last year) and home runs (0.94 per/9 after giving up 1.23 last season). His underlying stats (FIP of 3.56, WAR of 1.6) suggest he’s been quite a bit better than his ERA shows.
Lopez profiles as a player who can induce weak contact often, especially on the ground. Lopez got opponents to hit grounders in 50% of the balls they put in play against last season, and he’s maintained that in 2019 (48.8%). Despite the surge in hard contact around the league, Lopez has only seen a marginal increase in the amount of hard contact he’s given up on batted balls in play this season (35.3%) over last year (32.4%).
Though Miami is in the process of a long, painful rebuild, it seems very unlikely that they’d entertain an offer for Lopez. After all, he is just 23 and is showing real promise.
Like most pitchers out there, the Milwaukee Brewers would love to have someone who can limit hard contact and keep the ball on the ground. If they wanted to gamble on a young, controllable pitcher, they’d be hard pressed to find a better option than him.