I wrote about Taylor Rogers on Monday. Since then, he has been diagnosed with a sprained finger and his availability is in question. The Dodgers still have a glaring need in the bullpen from the left side, so let’s look at some of the non-Rogers or Brad Hand (who hasn’t been great lately) options.
- Max Scherzer (July 17)
- Jose Berrios (July 19)
- Hansel Robles, Ian Kennedy, Daniel Hudson (July 20)
- Kyle Gibson (July 21)
- Craig Kimbrel (July 22)
- Jon Gray (July 23)
- Kris Bryant (July 25)
- Taylor Rogers (July 26)
- Dylan Floro (July 27)
Rex Brothers, Cubs
Brothers’ teammate, Andrew Chafin, just got dealt to the A’s on Monday, so he’s off the table. Brothers does something better than Chafin — gets strikeouts. He has a 36.8 K% on the season, including a 36.6 K% against left-handed hitters. He’s definitely a fly ball pitcher (33.8 GB%), which goes against the Dodgers’ recent bullpen philosophy.
So, why is a guy running a mid-30% strikeout rate not getting more trade buzz? Walks.
Brothers, 33, has a 12.3 BB% this season and a 13.1% mark for his career. That helps keep his batting average against down, but his 20 walks in 39 1/3 innings is a bit concerning.
He’s a fastball-slider guy, and he’s increased his fastball usage this season from 50% to 66.2%. He isn’t in Jake McGee territory (man, the Dodgers sure could use him!) because his slider is so good.
Against lefties, Brothers is holding hitters to a .123 batting average and .166 wOBA against. He has a ridiculous 56.5 Whiff% against the pitch. His 94.7 MPH fastball gets hit quite a bit. Of the 17 hits allowed on his heater, nine have gone for extra bases. My assumption is if the Dodgers acquired him, they’d tell him to go back to throwing his slider a lot more frequently.
Brothers has one more year of arbitration before hitting free agency following the 2022 season.
Paul Fry, Orioles
Fry had a strong showing the abbreviated 2020 season for the Orioles (2.45 ERA, 2.54 FIP, 20.4 K-BB%), and he has followed it up with a strong 2021 thus far. He owns a 3.49 ERA, 2.99 FIP and a 21.6 K-BB% in 38 2/3 innings this season. His walks have ticked up a bit (2.5 percentage points), but his strikeouts have also ticked up almost 4 percentage points).
The 29-year-old southpaw fares well against left-handed hitting. He has a .170 BAA and a .229 wOBA against. He actually is better at getting strikeouts against right-handers (36.4% vs. 28.6%), but he has yet to allow an extra-base hit against a lefty. He also hasn’t allowed a home run this season. His ground ball rate is 52.4%, which should be attractive to a Dodger bullpen with the 2nd-highest GB% in the majors. He’s also good at inducing weak contact, as he’s in the 90th percentile in HardHit% and the 99th percentile in Barrel%. His fastball is 92.9 MPH, while his 85.2 MPH slider is his out pitch. It has a .145 BAA and .206 wOBA against. It also gets whiffs 35.8% of the time.
He’s not a free agent until after the 2024 season, so he’d be someone the Dodgers (or any acquiring team) could plug into the bullpen for the next few seasons.
John King, Rangers
King, 26, is having a solid season for the lowly Rangers. He has a 3.52 ERA, 3.31 FIP and a 14.5 K-BB%. Against left-handed hitters, he has a .140 BAA and a .201 wOBA against. He also strikes lefties out at a higher rate than he does righties (23.1% vs. 19.5%) and has not allowed a homer to left-handed hitter in his career (just 19 2/3 innings against LHH).
He’s atypical of pitchers on this list, as he has four pitches he uses with differing frequency:
- Sinker: 57.6%
- Changeup: 18.8%
- Slider: 13.8%
- Cutter: 9.8%
As expected, his changeup (78.4 MPH) is used mostly against righties, while his slider (79.6 MPH) is used mostly against lefties. His cutter (87.3 MPH) is used more against righties, but also has the highest xwOBA of any of his offerings (.316). His sinker (92.2 MPH) has an ugly .349 wOBA, but the xwOBA is .299, suggesting he’s gotten a bit unlucky this season.
He’s a less extreme version of Scott Alexander, it seems. Not sure he’d be a massive upgrade, but he’s good at getting left-handed hitters out. His chase rate is un the 94th percentile, something Alexander cannot claim. He’s not a free agent until after the 2026(!) season, so he might cost a bit more than most are comfortable with giving up.
Tanner Scott, Orioles
Scott, 27, is the next-level version of his teammate Fry. He owns a 3.12 ERA, 3.18 FIP and 17.3 K-BB%. His 15.6 percent walk rate, however, is super concerning for a team looking for consistency and strike-throwing from relievers (especially lefties).
But Scott’s arm talent cannot be overlooked. His fastball is a 96.9 MPH burner that generates a ridiculous 25.6 Whiff%. The xwOBA on it is .361 (.300 wOBA), which is eyebrow-raising. He throws it about half the time. Eighteen of his pitches have been classified as a sinker, but they’re probably just misclassified fastballs. The other half (almost) is reserved for his slider. It’s an 88.6 MPH pitch that gets a 52.5 Whiff%. It fares better than his fastball in terms of wOBA (.261) and xwOBA (.271), but it has regressed a bit from last season. Perhaps throwing it more has give hitters a better chance to square it up? His usage on it last season was 38.8%, yet it had a minuscule .078 wOBA and .148 xwOBA. Perhaps more fastballs could (and should) be in his future.
Like Fry, he’s not a free agent until after the 2024 season. His value is probably higher than Fry’s because he can pump 97 from the left side and a wipeout slider, while Fry’s a more polished (i.e., higher floor) guy.
Here’s who I think would cost the most in a trade for the Dodgers.
None of them would command any of the Dodgers top prospects (Michael Busch, Diego Cartaya, Josiah Gray, Bobby Miller, Ryan Pepiot, Keibert Ruiz, Miguel Vargas), but that next tier of prospect could be in play for guys like Scott and Fry. King would cost a little less, while Brothers could be had on the cheap.
Here’s how likely I think the Dodgers would acquire any of the southpaws.
Brothers just makes a lot of sense, as a couple C+ prospects probably gets it done. Fry is intriguing because he keeps the ball on the ground and in the yard. King is a potentially better version of Fry (and would cost a more), while Scott would be the biggest boom-or-bust of the quartet.
If the Dodgers think Garrett Cleavinger can improve or Victor Gonzalez can rediscover his 2020 success, then they probably won’t be looking as hard for a lefty reliever. Alexander is hurt and unreliable and they won’t have Julio Urias in the bullpen for a deep postseason run (provided they get past the Wild Card Game), so grabbing a lefty who’s murder on lefties might not be the sexiest move, but it might be the most practical.