When the non-waiver trade deadline came around, the Astros were sitting in excellent position. In large part because of that, the team didn’t make a big splash, yet that didn’t sit so well with, say, Dallas Keuchel. Certain Astros would’ve liked to see a move or two made in an effort to put the club over the top, and so far in the second half, the Astros have sputtered. And so a big splash has been made. It’s a trade that was on, and then off, and then on again — it’s a trade that was made with one minute to spare. Because of that one minute, the Astros have a new weapon for the playoff roster.
Dave is going to have a fuller post on this later on. A post that will more deeply examine all the various impacts here. Earlier this very evening, it seemed like any Verlander trade possibility was just hanging on by a thread. But there’s nothing quite like a deadline to light some fires under some butts, and both sides get to look good here. The Astros get a front-of-the-rotation starter, who’s lately settled into a groove. The Tigers get quality prospects, having included some money to offset Verlander’s cost. Of course, trading a player like Verlander isn’t a simple matter, given everything he’s meant to the Tigers organization, but something like this was inevitable. The rebuild was always coming. Nothing is ever permanent.
Perez is a 19-year-old righty starter. Cameron is a 20-year-old center fielder. Rogers is a 22-year-old catcher. Before the year, Eric had them ranked third, 10th, and 20th in the Astros’ system, respectively. Perez just missed the overall top-100. In Baseball America’s midseason update, Perez ranked 32nd overall. He ranked second in the Astros’ system. Perez is clearly the big get, but Cameron could be a long-term center fielder, and Rogers is considered a fantastic defender with a better bat than a lot of people expected. This could become a group of three big-leaguers. The Astros didn’t get Verlander cheap.
But they’re encouraged by what they’ve seen. Just looking at things overall, Verlander has taken a step back:
What was strange about the struggling Verlander was there wasn’t an obvious reason. The stuff, if anything, had improved. The results just weren’t there. Yet, consider Verlander’s most recent nine starts:
Normal Verlander again. Perhaps even something a little better. Verlander has pitched like one of the best starters around, and because of his history, it wasn’t going to take much to convince another team that he’d found his way forward. Verlander has made necessary adjustments before. It looks like he’s made them again. This might be a clue:
Maybe it has nothing to do with Verlander taking something back off of his slider. Could be something or anything else. But here’s where we are: Verlander is a former ace starter, throwing ace stuff, who’s recently generated ace results. The Astros figure he’s back, and, if he is, how many starters would you rather have leading a club into the playoffs? To say nothing of his two more years of control, during which the Astros should still be strong.
With Verlander and Justin Upton going out the door, this has been an important day for Detroit. And with Verlander landing in Houston, this has been an important day for the rest of the American League. The Astros were already very good. Now they’ve made about the biggest splash they could make.
Jeff made Lookout Landing a thing, but he does not still write there about the Mariners. He does write here, sometimes about the Mariners, but usually not.
Wonder what the difficulty of those last nine opponents was. A quick check shows that their average wRC+ this year is 97.2 and that their K% and BB% are both slightly lower than league average. So the schedule’s helped a bit, but these stronger numbers have clearly been driven by some real improvement.
ERA-/FIP-/xFIP- are all park and league adjusted. 53/80/77 should all be sufficient indicators that something has clicked even without being adjusted for opponents. Putting faith in those metrics shouldn’t be too misleading.