If you’re a pitcher, there aren’t many more important skills than racking up strikeouts and limiting walks. The on-the-block starters who have been adept in both categories in 2019 figure to be among the players who garner the most interest from other teams leading up to the July 31 trade deadline. With help from the trade candidates list MLBTR’s Jeff Todd and Steve Adams assembled last week, here’s a look at the five qualified, potentially movable starters who have stood out more than the rest in the K/BB department this year…
Zack Greinke, RHP, Diamondbacks: K/BB ratio: 7.13
- Even though he’s 35 years old and has a fastball that clocks in just below 90 mph, Greinke remains one of the majors’ preeminent starters. Greinke has fanned 8.02 batters per nine this year and walked a paltry 1.13, helping him to a 2.95 ERA/3.20 FIP across 128 frames. Plus, in a game where home runs are becoming more prevalent, Greinke has yielded under one per nine. If the Diamondbacks go into sell mode, Greinke is theoretically someone who’d draw plenty of interest. However, his contract could serve as a major roadblock. Not only is Greinke owed roughly $79MM through 2021, but his partial no-trade clause gives him the right to say no to 15 teams.
Matthew Boyd, LHP, Tigers: K/BB ratio: 6.33
- A glance at Boyd’s MLBTR page shows no shortage of teams in pursuit of the breakout 28-year-old, who has evolved into a K/BB master this season. Boyd has struck out 12 per nine and issued just 1.89 BB/9 at the same time, though a low groundball percentage (37.1) has played in a part in recent difficulties preventing home runs. Boyd has allowed 10 in seven starts dating back to the beginning of June, when he owned a 3.01 ERA. He has now posted a 3.95 mark in 114 innings this year, albeit with a 3.47 FIP/3.35 xFIP and the majors’ 11th-highest swinging-strike rate (14 percent). Considering Boyd’s 2019 production, his $2.6MM salary and his three remaining seasons of arbitration control, it’s no wonder teams are lining up for him.
Jacob deGrom, RHP, Mets: K/BB ratio: 5.14
- Despite their awful 42-51 record, the Mets probably aren’t going to trade deGrom, the reigning NL Cy Young winner whom they signed to a four-year, $120.5MM extension entering the season. The 31-year-old hasn’t been the otherworldly force he was in 2018, but that’s far more of a compliment to his work a season ago than a knock on what he has done in 2019. To this point, deGrom has pitched to a sparkling 3.21 ERA/3.12 FIP with 11.27 K/9 and 2.19 BB/9 over 115 innings. Should the Mets at least consider trading him? Many of you think so, but general manager Brodie Van Wagenen’s unlikely to pull the trigger.
Madison Bumgarner, LHP, Giants: K/BB ratio: 4.84
- It’s true Bumgarner isn’t the ace he was in his halcyon days, but the 29-year-old’s K/9 (9.33) and BB/9 (1.93 BB/9) are befitting of a front-line arm. His 3.86 ERA and 3.80 FIP tell another story, though they’re certainly not subpar. The multi-time playoff hero has drawn tons of interest in advance of the deadline, and is likely the top rental starter in the rumor mill. For a while, Bumgarner has looked like a surefire trade candidate for the Giants, but a recent hot streak has put them just three games back in the National League’s wide-open wild-card race. Still, odds are that they’ll move Bumgarner for a solid return in the next two weeks.
Mike Leake, RHP, Mariners: K/BB ratio: 4.72
- Leake’s inclusion on this list comes as a surprise in light of the other hurlers on it, and he’s definitely not part of it because of an impressive strikeout total. To the contrary, Leake has fanned a meager 6.63 batters per nine over 115 1/3 frames. On the other hand, his 1.4 BB/9 is outstanding. The same can’t be said for Leake’s 4.60 ERA/4.99 FIP or his 88.2 mph average fastball velocity, though. As a back-end starter who’s owed the balance of $36MM through 2020 (including $9MM from his prior team, the Cardinals, and a $5MM buyout in 2021), there isn’t much trade value here despite Leake’s placement in this top five.