With the way things are trending, it appears as if the Los Angeles Dodgers will be focused on acquiring starting and relief pitching at this year's trade deadline. This staff has been plagued by injuries and regressions.
There won't be a surplus of arms on the market, though, which means Andrew Friedman will need be careful in his negotiations with other clubs. He knows that, as evidenced by the countless deals he's made without overpaying.
But the Dodgers are over-performing this year (based on preseason projections) and have a legitimate chance to make a run in what seems to be a weak National League at the moment. That is, if they land the right pieces before 4 p.m. ET on Aug. 1.
This is where it gets difficult. Because now there's a rumor floating around that the Cleveland Guardians are likely to trade starting pitcher Shane Bieber before the deadline, which would make him, by far, the most sought-after arm on the market.
The Dodgers need to upgrade or else it feels like they'll waste a promising season. Then again, they definitely don't want to get in an escalating bidding war with other contenders for a big-name pitcher who's actually outrunning his troubling peripheral metrics right now.
Dodgers Rumors: Shane Bieber buzz should have LA treading lightly
When you hear Biebers's name, you think baaaaby baaaaby baaaaby oooohhhh ... wait wrong Bieber. When you hear Shane Bieber's name, you think ace. You think Cy Young winner. You think battle-tested pitcher you want in your rotation.
The 2020 Cy Young winner might be getting the job done at the moment with a 3.72 ERA through 12 starts and a league-leading 75 innings pitched ... but he also leads the league in hits allowed (76) and his 1.29 WHIP could end of being a career worst for a full slate of starts. His 53 strikeouts are also concerning, especially since he had 122 in 77.1 innings in 2020, 134 in 96.2 innings in 2021, and 198 in 200 innings last year.
Somehow, it gets worse. His Statcast page is littered with blueberries. He ranks in the eighth percentile for average exit velocity, hard-hit percentage and expected batting average. He's diminishing fastball velocity has him in the sixth percentile for that category. Then you have his expected ERA, xwOBA, expected slugging, strikeout percentage and curveball spin also well below average.
Is is smart for the Dodgers to surrender valuable assets for 1.5 years of a pitcher currently reinventing himself?
"Bieber is a pitcher undergoing a transformation. He’s almost unrecognizable when compared to his breakout season in 2019 or those 12 award-winning starts in 2020 or even his pre-injury resume from 2021.- Zack Meisel, The Athletic
There are underlying forces at play, of course: his shoulder injury, MLB rule changes, diminished fastball velocity (his least favorite subject), hitters’ approaches against him, and his ever-changing feel for certain pitches."
Guardians beat writer for The Athletic (subscription required), Zack Meisel detailed Bieber's alterations this season thoroughly, and while the right-hander's journey is admirable, it's not exactly something worth betting on if you're searching for a top-end starter with a steadfast profile.
You'd take Bieber on your team any day of the week, but not if the Guardians are looking to find someone who will pay a prohibitive resale price in a barren market.