In what is probably the last Trade Deadline Targets for this season, we look at an interesting reliever in the form of Mychal Givens.
- Felipe Vazquez (June 27)
- Will Smith (July 1)
- Shane Greene (July 10)
- Ken Giles (July 15)
- Matthew Boyd (July 19)
- Whit Merrifield (July 22)
- Sam Dyson/Tony Watson (July 25)
- Noah Syndergaard (July 26)
Now, you’re probably asking yourself, “Why do the Dodgers want a relief pitcher with a 4.54 ERA, 5.05 FIP and a 24.4 HR/FB%?” It’s a fair question. On the surface, those numbers are bad, even by 2019 standards. But if you look beyond those numbers, there is something intriguing about the hard-throwing right-handed reliever.
Givens, 29, is the Orioles’ closer and, as you can tell, has had a bit of a rough go of it this season. He’s been bitten hard by the home run. He’s not a ground ball pitcher, so the HR/FB% is even more alarming. It also translates to a 2.16 HR/9 and a .256 BABIP. So, despite under-performing in BABIP, he’s having the worst season of his big league career. But let’s dive a little deeper.
If you go to his plate discipline numbers, there is optimism. Givens has a career-best O-Swing% of 31.1 and a SwStr% of 15.3 — tied with the Giants’ Will Smith. He’s also allowing a career-low when it comes to contact at 68.8 percent. Despite the ugly numbers above, these peripherals show he should be more successful than he has been in 2019. These are what have me most excited for the possibility of him in the Dodgers’ bullpen.
He’s leaving his pitches in the strike zone at a career-low rat (44.8 percent), yet he’s giving up the hardest contact of his career (88.4 MPH exit velocity). His contact numbers outside the strike zone (career-low 57.7 percent) don’t explain it, either. The only thing that kinda makes sense is that he’s pitching a little higher in the zone and hitters aren’t missing it when they swing. He has allowed 11 barrels this season. In his previous four seasons, he allowed 26.
Givens’ velocity on his fastball hasn’t dipped. His fastball is averaging the same 95.1 MPH as it did last season. His slider has ticked up 0.7 MPH, while his changeup has dipped 1.2 MPH. He’s also throwing the changeup at a career-high rate, but it hasn’t been particularly successful for him. He uses it against lefties, who have hit him substantially better than righties have in his career (and this season). He’s really having a mystery season.
Givens, at this stage, would be a buy-low candidate. He’s under team control through the 2021 season and is due the remainder of his $2.15 million salary for this season. His past performance shows there’s some untapped talent in his right arm, and if the Dodgers could get him for cheap, they could be getting an effective middle reliever.
Rooney would give the O’s a nice left-handed starter to develop. Rios could come up right away and take some playing time at first base, third base, left field or designated hitter. And with Trey Mancini on the trade block, there could be a vacancy for an MLB-ready bat.
Carrillo’s scouting reports are better than his results thus far, but the 20-year-old has a live arm and could be developed into a mid-rotation starter. Thomas is still a bit raw, but he’s an athletic outfielder with big-time power.
If the returns for Givens seem a bit light, it’s because he’d be more of reclamation project kind of acquisition — one more for the next couple season rather than this season. If there’s any organization out there that can not only get him back to his previous level of production, but get him to that next level, it’s the Dodgers. And if they can get him for a decent enough price, they could reap the benefits.