Posted on July 29, 2019, by Bryan Zarpentine
Slowly but surely, the dominos are starting to fall before the trade deadline. On Monday, the Milwaukee Brewers added some rotation help, acquiring starter Jordan Lyles from the Pittsburgh Pirates. In exchange for Lyles, the Pirates will receive pitching prospect Cody Ponce, who is currently pitching at double-A.
This is actually the second straight season the Brewers have added Lyles for the stretch run. They claimed the 28-year-old off waivers last August. He ended up making 11 appearances out of the bullpen, helping Milwaukee claim the NL Central title. However, the Brewers will be asking Lyles to play a more prominent role this time around.
Milwaukee’s rotation has been decimated by injuries recently. In the past week, Brandon Woodruff and Jhoulys Chacin have both been sent to the 10-day Injured List because of strained obliques. Gio Gonzalez is also questionable to make his next start after experiencing shoulder tightness in his last outing. At this point, the Brewers just need someone in good health who can take the mound, and they hope that Lyles can provide that.
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Prior to Monday’s trade, Lyles made 17 starts for the Pirates, going 5-7 with a 5.36 ERA. It’s been a tale of two seasons for the righty. After eight starts, his ERA sat at 1.97. However, the wheels have fallen off since then. He’s lost four of his last five starts and hasn’t recorded a win since May 23. In his most recent start, Lyles allowed eight runs (five earned), giving up three home runs in just 1.2 innings. Nevertheless, a change of scenery could be what he needs to turn things around.
“I’m definitely looking forward to a change,” Lyles said after learning of the trade. “This last month hasn’t gone in my favor. I’ve pitched poorly.”
The Brewers are clearly desperate for starting pitching given their current injury situation. However, there are few frontline starters available. There are even reports that Milwaukee would be open to trading Yasmani Grandal or Mike Moustakas if it meant getting back rotation help. Of course, such a trade is unlikely, and so Lyles may have been the best they could get.
“I think every season takes its own twists and turns, and every season brings up unexpected situations and circumstances,” explains Brewers GM David Stearns. “Certainly, we went into the season with what we thought was a very deep pitching staff with numbers we thought could help us get through the rigors of a major league season.”
Barring another trade, the Brewers are likely hoping that Lyles can help them hold down the fort until Woodruff and Chacin are able to return. Of course, that won’t be easy in a tight three-team race in the NL Central. The Brewers began Monday a game behind both the Cubs and Cardinals, who are tied for first place. They are also a game out of a Wild Card spot.
Of course, the X-factor of the deal is how Lyles will perform. Are the Brewers getting the guy the Pirates had in April and May or the pitcher who has struggled over the last two months? If Lyles can at least prove to be a reliable innings eater who can take the ball every five days, he should help Milwaukee down the stretch. But if he can’t break out of his recent funk, this trade could end up doing more harm than good for the Brewers.