2:17pm: The teams have announced the deal.
2:02pm: The Brewers have reached a deal to acquire right-hander Jordan Lyles from the division-rival Pirates, reports Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (via Twitter). Milwaukee will send Double-A right-hander Cody Ponce to Pittsburgh in return, tweets Robert Murray of The Athletic.
It’s the second straight season that Brewers general manager David Stearns has acquired Lyles, as the Brewers also picked him up in an August waiver deal a season ago. He tossed 16 1/3 innings of 3.31 ERA ball out of the Milwaukee ’pen down the stretch last season before hitting free agency and inking a one-year, $2.05MM deal with the Pirates as a free agent. He’s still owed about $705K of that sum between now and season’s end.
That contract looked like a steal for the first couple months of the season, as Lyles pitched to a 3.09 ERA with a 61-to-19 K/BB ratio in 57 innings through the end of May. He missed time with a hamstring injury last month and has struggled mightily with control issues dating back to early June, however. In 27 innings across his past seven outings, Lyles has been torched for 30 earned runs on 46 hits (including 11 home runs) and 14 walks. He’s still whiffed 34 hitters in that time, maintaining his career-best strikeout tendencies, but the Brewers will obviously be looking for a way to bring back the April/May Lyles rather than the June/July iteration that has manifested.
Clearly, the Brewers aren’t putting much stock in Lyles’ earned run average — few, if any, front offices do at this point — and are instead betting on the career-best strikeout rates and Lyles’ increased reliance on his curveball. It’s a relatively low-profile pickup but one that’ll give Milwaukee a much-needed arm to help stabilize an increasingly worrisome rotation. Brandon Woodruff will be out until September with an oblique strain, and Jhoulys Chacin just hit the injured list within the past few days due to a lat strain. Jimmy Nelson is also on the shelf due to an elbow issue.
Ponce, 25, was the Brewers’ second-round pick back in 2015 but isn’t regarded among the organization’s top tier of prospects. He is, however, in the midst of a strong season in Biloxi, having pitched to a 3.29 ERA with a 44-to-12 K/BB ratio and a 56.5 percent ground-ball rate in 38 1/3 innings out of the bullpen. The 6’6″ inch, 240-pound Ponce ranked as the Brewers’ No. 27 prospect on the offseason, per Baseball America, and BA pegged him 25th among Brewers farmhands on their recent midseason update of their farm system.