James Cromer was talking on Two Birds on a Bat about the Cardinals need for a left-handed reliever to get left-handed hitters out late in games - a Joey Votto/Anthony Rizzo combatant, if you will. He did mention Ryan Sherriff - who is out for the year (or more) with Tommy John surgery. Additionally, Lyons (currently on the DL), Cecil, and Gomber have been largely ineffective against lefties. The Cardinals currently have the 5th worst batting average allowed by LHP to LHH in all of baseball. Their OBP allowed is also 5th worst. Their SLG allowed is 3rd worst. Their wOBA allowed is 4th worst. Of the 92 LHP pitchers, league-wide, who have faced at least 10 lefties, Cecil, Lyons, and Gomber are all 70th or worse in regards to wOBA allowed to LHH. Their K:BB is 6th worst in baseball and K%-BB% is 5th worst with regards to lefty-lefty matchups in the pen.
Note: Kyle Reis might kill me (or at least deprive me good whiskey?) if I didn't mention that Gomber's sample size at the major league level against lefties is absolutely minuscule and he's being used in relief for the first time in his professional career, but the fact remains that he is in the bottom quartile of all LHRP vs. LHH by wOBA in the small sample and has allowed an OBP over .365 and an ISO over .280 against lefties so far in his career. However, he has been better than Lyons or Cecil against lefties. That helps my argument, though.
Here are some names on losing teams that could help, keeping in mind I have no clue what
other teams would want for these players:
Jace Fry - 24 year old LHP for the Chicago White Sox
Jace Fry wasn’t really a big named prospect for the White Sox, but he rocketed up their system pretty quickly as a lefty reliever. Last year, Fry struggled against lefties in the majors but only faced 17 of them. This year, he’s already faced 41 of them and has absolutely mowed them down. Of the 41 LHH he’s faced, he’s struck out 17 (41.5%), allowed just 3 hits (2 doubles) and 3 walks. He’s under contract through 2023, so I have no idea why the Sox would consider parting with him.
Jonny Venters - 33 year old LHP for the Tampa Bay Rays
Venters would be a free agent at the end of the year, so he would be a rental from the Rays - a good reason he could actually be traded. He’s faced 323 lefties while in the majors and has allowed 51 hits (6 doubles and 4 homers). He’s struck out 120 of them (37.2%) and has walked just 27 and hit 12 of them.
Donny Hart - 27 year old LHP for the Baltimore Orioles
Hart is also a FA in 2023, so I’m not sure Baltimore would be willing to give him up. However, he hasn’t been a terrible wonderful reliever overall so switching him to more of a traditional LOOGY role might benefit him greatly. Against the 151 lefties he’s faced in his career, he’s allowed 29 hits (5 doubles and 2 homers), walked 12 and hit 3 while striking out 31 of them (20.5%). It’s not fantastic, but it’s so much better than his line against righties...it might not take much to get him.
Tanner Scott - 23 year old LHP for the Baltimore Orioles
Scott is another Oriole that could be interesting. He’s also not a FA until 2023, so maybe they actually would give up one of them? I dunno. Scott would probably cost a bit more...he was at least a bit ballyhooed as a prospect, having gone to the AFL each of the last three summers. He’s faced just 31 lefties in his very short (thus far) major league career. In those 31 PA, he has allowed just 5 hits (none for extra bases) and struck out 10 (32.3%) to just 3 BBs.
Adam Conley - 28 year old LHP for the Miami Marlins
I’m really not sure on this guy. Conley’s numbers overall against LHP has been pretty poor. This year has been much better but he’s faced only 22 of them so far...compared to over 300 for his career. He’s not a FA until after the 2021 season.
Will Smith - 28 year old LHP for the San Francisco Giants
The Giants would have to about face and actually sell for this to make sense. I don’t know that I see this happening. He’s still arbitration eligible for 1 more year then a FA after the 2019 season, so it’d be a trade for 1.5 seasons. Smith has been fairly good against lefties for his career, but not great. His overall line is .235/.300/.377/.677 against lefties in 502 batters faced. This year, he’s only faced 36 thus far, but his line against is just .171/.194/.229/.423 - quite good. In 2016, he was also much better than his career averages, as was 2014. He missed last year due to injury. 2015 was rough - but he got hurt that year so how much of that was pitching hurt?
Jose Castillo - 22 year old LHP for the San Diego Padres
Not sure why they would trade Castillo, especially if they’re looking to capitalize on Hand by getting someone like Rafael Devers (their alleged asking price)...Castillo’s been quite incredible in this, his rookie, season.
Harrison Musgrave - 26 year old LHP for the Colorado Rockies
I really like this potential move. Musgrave is a former starter that is relieving in the majors. He was rough as a starter in the minors the last few years - we’re talking ERAs over 5 and 6. This year, he’s pitched out of the pen for the Rockies and has been a long man. He’s thrown 21 innings in 14 appearances and he’s been okay. 1.143 WHIP, 2.00 K:BB, but a 4.67 FIP and 4.71 ERA. It looks as if he’s finishing off rough games. However, against lefties: 30 batters faced, 4 hits (1 double, 1 HR), 1 BB, and 1 HBP. He’s struck out 8 (26.7%). His OPS against is under .500. This year in the minors, he faced 44 LHH and kept them to a .640 OPS. In 2017 in the minors, he faced 66 LHH and didn’t fare very well. In 2016 in the minors, he faced 181 LHH and had a .738 OPS against. In 2015, the 173 LHH he faced had only a .589 OPS against. Lastly, in 2014, he did not pitch well against anyone. If the asking price isn't too much, acquiring Musgrave might be a decent move.
So, Cardinals fans, who do you want and what would you give up to get it to happen?