Let’s Find a Trade Target: Pitchers Edition

As mentioned last week – the Phillies are close to competing, but need some help on both sides of the ball. Yes, despite their addition of Drew Smyly (who pitched better than I expected in his debut with the club), the Phillies still need pitching. What was supposed to be a strength of the team has been anything but. By fWAR/200 IP, no pitching staff has underperformed expectations quite as dramatically as the Phillies. Don’t worry about what fWAR/200 IP is – just look at the table and weep.


Before we delve into who the Phillies should be targeting, let’s re-evaluate our list of “sellers”. It’s only been a week or so since my last post, but when a team is on the bubble, it only takes a handful of games to determine whether they should stand pat or sell. The standings, once again, lead us to our list.

  • Blue Jays
  • Diamondbacks
  • Giants
  • Mariners
  • Marlins
  • Orioles
  • Padres
  • Pirates
  • Rockies
  • Reds
  • Royals
  • Tigers
  • White Sox

The list has grown by 4! The Diamondbacks, Padres, Pirates, and Rockies, once teetering on the edge, have been toppled by recent cold streaks. The Giants present an interesting case – they currently have a winning record, but underlying stats point to their success being unsustainable. The popular sentiment is that they could benefit from reloading the farm system, so I’m keeping them here.

Identifying solid pitchers is a bit easier than identifying solid hitters – if you’re striking guys out and limiting free passes then you’re worth taking a chance on, regardless of what W-L record and ERA might say. To that end, we’ll look at FIP, xFIP, xBA, and Swing and Miss rate. For info about those stats, click on those links.

I grabbed a list of every pitcher who’s thrown at least 10 innings on the “sellers” list and filtered out anyone who wasn’t above average in at least one of the four stats. I wanted to keep pitchers who are striking guys out, might strike guys out, or at least limiting hard contact. I ended up with 27 pitchers.

Pitcher Targets

Any cell highlighted in green means the player was above average in that area. Just about any of the listed pitchers would help the Phillies (although the top of the list is more tantalizing than the bottom). Unsurprisingly, there are a lot more relievers than starters available. There are a lot of relief pitchers in baseball!

The trade deadline is only a day away. Fingers crossed that the Phillies add one or two of the above names. Smyly and Vargas aren’t going to plug the holes in the pitching staff alone.

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