Cueto’s Gone, What’s Left?

Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Johnny Cueto was just traded to the Royals today according to Ken Rosenthal

Being that the Cincinnati Reds were in clear sell mode, this makes sense but the events of the past few days (Cueto trade, Kasmir trade) leaves the Dodgers with 2 less options to look at meaning the market they’re operating in just got a little bit more desperate for pitching.

So where do we go now? Well the Dodgers rotation currently reads:

Clayton Kershaw

Zack Greinke

Brett Anderson (mayyyybe?)

Mike Bolsinger

Zach Lee, who will certainly give way to Carlos Frias if they don’t make any significant trades this deadline.

I think the trade deadline is very simple, the Dodgers should (and probably will) go out and get a bullpen arm, if only for relief on the current corps. Never mind that they’ve been garbage for over a month now, but there should be somebody other than Kenley Jansen in terms of reliability in order to go deep in the playoffs, so that will get fixed, but speculating on specific bullpen arms this regime likes is just a futile exercise, so we’ll just assume that the pen gets upgraded at some point.

But the real question that should be asked is: Can “potential starting pitcher” reasonably prevent a Carlos Frias playoff start?

*granted preventing a Mike Bolsinger playoff start would be ideal but under no circumstance should start a game in October*

Keeping that question in mind, here are the potential targets left on the market:

Cole Hamels

I mean we don’t have to delve into how good the dude is, he always throws 200+ innings, he has a career 81 ERA- and a 84 FIP- and is pitching well this year despite dealing with defenders like Odubel Herrera playing everywhere on the field. His K% has ticked up and his BB% is manageable, despite the narrative that Hamels isn’t worth much because of his contract, he is an ace level pitcher pitching at an ace level. He would reasonably prevent a Carlos Frias playoff start

David Price

He’s probably the best control/command pitcher not named Zack Greinke right now, he is having a career year, sporting a 2.31 ERA with a 2.81 FIP and is projected to throw 220+ innings. His status as a rental is the only thing preventing him from bringing back a Julio Urias type player in a trade. His track record with health (one tricep flareup in 2013) makes it very unlikely Frias would start a playoff start so he checks off the most important box this trade deadline for the team.

Jeff Samardzija

He was described as a sure bet to get 100+ million dollars a la Rick Porcello, and after the first couple of months, that was looking like an impossibility (4.93 ERA 3.95 FIP), but when given the chance, career numbers normally win out and since that June 7th start, he’s posted a much more reasonable 2.55 ERA 2.96 FIP split putting him at basically what a 3rd starter should be expected to produce 3.91 ERA 3.53 FIP.

The problem here is that through 20 starts the strikeouts have totally disappeared,  one of the attractions to Shark was his strikeout/ground ball ability, and if half of that is gone, he isn’t as likely to be as sought after as he was when he was a saber darling in Chicago. The solid thing about him is that he’s gone 7 innings in every start for nearly 2 months (June 2nd was the last time he failed to pitch into the 7th) so he would absolutely prevent a Frias playoff start.

Yovani Gallardo

He has a 3.19 ERA and 3.69 FIP in Texas, so those are good signs. He doesn’t turn 30 until next year and has a history of success in hitting havens, so a move to Dodger stadium would theoretically help him (plus there’s that fact that Gallardo is particularly marketable in Los Angeles), Gallardo’s a solid pitcher that would fit the needs of the team, plus he’s likely to be an inexpensive rental. And he makes 30+ starts consistently year in and year out. The only issue is that he’s an xFIP regression away (4.18 xFIP vs a 3.69 FIP) from not looking like a clear upgrade over some of the #4 options this rotation is running out.

But reliability has a place in this rotation and Gallardo is a reliable pitcher who is miles better than Carlos Frias and there’s a reasonable expectation that he’s better than Bolsinger.

Mike Leake

I guess Leake is underrated by many, he doesn’t throw very hard, throwing his fastball in the low 90’s, but he has a decent amount of movement and gets lots and lots of ground balls (50.2% for his career,  52% this years). I was surprised to learn that Great American Ballpark doesn’t give him more of a boost in terms of value, seeing as his career ERA- is 101 and his career FIP- is 106. He looks like an okay #4 starter to throw out in an NLCS matchup, so that answers the question about Carlos Frias, but we’re finally getting into the territory of asking whether Mike Bolsinger is an upgrade over some of these players

Hisashi Iwakuma

Here’s the story: formerly good pitcher turns 34, gets into a freak accident over the winter, misses some time, 3 starts into his return, he hurts his lat and doesn’t come back until July.

This is such a Friedman acquisition, a calculated risk based off of his good to great production from 2013-2014. He had a 2.66 ERA in 2013 and received Cy Young votes, and in 2014 he was a solid #3 starter on a Mariners team that almost made the playoffs, and he gets hella ground balls. He checks all the boxes and getting him wouldn’t be the end of the world because he’s very clearly the 3rd best option in this rotation when he’s at his best, but he would need  to come with one of the other pitchers on this list because if Brett Anderson pops one of the joints in his body and Iwakuma’s lat or back flare up, we’re looking at Frias AND Bolsinger making starts in October.

Mat Latos

Eh, I guess. He’s a starter coming off of elbow surgery and his velocity has mostly fluctuated since the start of the season. If you like dreaming on his FIP, he could be the best bargain had considering his rental status. He’s projected to post a 3.53 ERA/3.32 FIP split, and both of those are better than Frias/Lee/whoever else is the Dodgers #5 starter so getting him without giving up a whole lot might be intriguing, but the run prevention problems this season (119 ERA-) combined with the injury issues this season and last season cast some measure of doubt as to whether he’ll A) make it to October B) be trustworthy in that situation.

Kyle Lohse, Matt Garza, Dan Haren, Aaron Harang, etc

Nope.

If I had to guess, i’d imagine the Dodgers end up with Samardzija because the fit is too nice, and you’d certainly keep one of Grant Holmes/ Jose De Leon and it seems like the Dodgers want to keep at least one in the organization past July 31st.