More Pitchers on the Move: Stroman, Lyles, and Vargas

After the Andrew Cashner and Homer Bailey moves, I thought the floodgates would open for deals and prepared to write several trade write-ups. Things are starting to heat up with a big move on Sunday and already a pair of starters getting moved by Monday afternoon.

Marcus Stroman to the Mets

This was a shocker! Not that Stroman was traded, but rather where he was traded. The Mets weren’t expected to be buying anyone, but I guess they felt that Anthony Kay and Simeon Woods Richardson was too good of a price to pass up. Stroman does get out of the AL East, but the Mets aren’t exactly the defense that can maximize Stroman’s major groundball lean. There’s still a benefit of switching from the AL-to-NL, but overall this feels like a neutral move.

Kay broke through in Double-A with a 1.49 ERA and 0.92 WHIP in 66.3 innings, fueled by a 27% K rate. He has struggled massively since being promoted to Triple-A, with the strikeout rate dropping to 19% and his home run rate soaring to 2.0 per nine. His 6.61 ERA is right in line with his 6.22 FIP and it has stunted some of the excitement the 24-year old lefty had generated.

Woods Richardson is a big-armed Texas righty. The 18-year old was drafted 48th last year and opened the year ranked 7th on the Mets list. His mid-90s fastball is the standout pitch right now, especially while he develops a third pitch. He could wind up the gem of the deal, but right now he’s a bit of a lottery ticket for the Jays.

Jordan Lyles to the Brewers

The Brewers adding a starting pitcher or three was a stone-cold lock for this trade deadline. Lyles is their first pickup and while he’s been rough of late, they desperately need him. In an article where I found some new spots for pitching trade candidates, I had Mike Leake coming to Milwaukee and this Lyles move essentially fills that role. I still think they will and should add a bigger arm than this after seeing their ace Brandon Woodruff hit the IL and weaken an already-thin rotation. I’ve been pro-Lyles throughout the season, but his disastrous July no doubt deeply hurt the fantasy teams he’s on as it will be really difficult to reverse the damage of his 15.00 ERA in 12 innings.

Yes, I’m super-bitter about it. The weirdest thing is that Lyles had a strong 5.7 IP/1 ER gem against the Phillies in the midst of three mega-duds (7, 7, and 5 ER). Eight home runs have been the problem in this run, but Lyles still has a 27% strikeout rate during July. The Brewers might be best-served to get Lyles to Oakland for their three-game set starting on Tuesday because they travel to the Cubs after that and they put both of the 7 ER beatdowns on Lyles in early-July.

Cody Ponce was sent to the Pirates to complete the deal. The 2015 2nd rounder fell off the Brewers organization list for 2019 after a rough season in Double-A as a 24-year old. He’s repeating the level this year as a reliever and while he has improved (28% K, 20% K-BB, 3.29 ERA, 1.17 WHIP), he’s not really a notable prospect. He could become a reliever and maybe even get a chance later this year.

Jason Vargas to the Phillies

Perhaps the Mets acquired Stroman so they could freely deal Vargas, who does still have a year left for just $8 million dollars. He has quietly had a fantastic season, posting a 4.01 ERA and 1.27 WHIP in 94.3 innings this year. His underlying metrics don’t quite support a low-4.00s ERA, but he’s easily a capable backend arm. The Phillies are in need of innings as their rotation behind Aaron Nola (who wasn’t so great himself to open the year) has been rough.

Vargas has had a major home/road split by ERA with a 2.93 ERA at home and 5.03 on the road, though neither his 12% home K-BB nor his 9% road rate are particularly appealing. I don’t think leaving New York changes Vargas that much. He’s a streaming option, best used in two-start weeks and favorable one-start weeks (ideally at home).

Austin Bossart is the player headed to NY for Vargas. He’s a 25-year old non-prospect catcher who is repeating Double-A, hitting .195/.303/.335 in 236 PA. At least his last name is cool!

We hoped you liked reading More Pitchers on the Move: Stroman, Lyles, and Vargas by Paul Sporer!

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Paul is the Editor of Rotographs and contributes to ESPN's Daily Notes. Follow Paul on Twitter @sporer and on Twitch at sporer.

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In a long weeks Lyles single handedly cost me 3 categories with his 95.00 ERA .2 IP outing. He’s dead to me.