Word is coming out that the long-awaited rumor of Ted Lilly to the Dodgers is happening, and the Boys in Blue will also be receiving infielder Ryan Theriot when the dust settles. However, for a Dodgers team that is currently seven games out of the race in the NL West, this move is a bit puzzling.
Ted Lilly is not having that good of a season, despite what the shiny 3.63 ERA will lead you to believe. His 4.50 FIP (4.49 xFIP) means he actually is having a pretty medicore year, especially since he’s coming off a solid 2009. In a post detailing Sell High Candidates on July 12th, I wrote the following of Lilly:
Lilly is comimg off of a huge 2009 where he posted a 3.65 FIP and 3.98 xFIP, good for 3.7 WAR. His K and BB rates, however, have been disturbingly poor this season, as his K/BB went from 4.19 last year to 2.71 this year. But for teams that aren’t looking too deeply at those numbers, Lilly’s 4.08 ERA may be appealing. Teams will envision him as a 3-4 starter in a good rotation, when really he’s just not pitching well right now. If the Cubs could pry away outfield prospect Kirk Nieuwenhuis from the Mets, it would be a steal.
I’d say Lilly’s BABIP hasn’t fully regress at .261, but he may be a pitcher who is able to get low BABIPs against (stress the “may”), as his career BABIP is .285. Here are his marks over the latter part of his career:
Still, Lilly’s peripherals are not holding up, as the lefty is striking out less batters and walking more. Still, ZiPS thinks he’s good for a 4.19 FIP for the rest of the season, and he’s a free agent after the year. The Dodgers currently have Carlos Monasterios starting games, but the usual reliever has a 5.14 xFIP and ZiPS thinks he’d have a 5.68 FIP the rest of the way. While that’s an upgrade of about ~1 run per game, the Dodgers probably could’ve found a replacement pitcher for Monasterios that didn’t cost as much as they gave up (prospects Brett Wallach and Kyle Smit).
Is Lilly the tipping point in the Dodgers’ playoff run? Probably not, and neither is Ryan Theriot, also acquired in the deal. Jamey Carroll, the current Dodgers second baseman, has a .322 wOBA thanks to a .374 OBP. ZiPS thinks he’s good for a .311 mark for the rest of the season. Theriot currently has a .291 wOBA and ZiPS likes him for .310 for the rest of the season. Not much of an upgrade; in fact, probably not an upgrade at all. However, Theriot is gritty, and looks like a younger version of the Janitor from the show Scrubs (who, ironically, played the first baseman for the Cubs in the movie Rookie of the Year, an all-time classic). Moreover, the Dodgers are trading Blake DeWitt in the deal, who has a .319 wOBA and is predicted to go .323 the rest of the way via ZiPS. So the Dodgers trade for one second baseman for a worse one while probably cutting playing time for another good one. That doesn’t help you make the playoffs.
Pat Andriola is an Analyst at Bloomberg Sports who formerly worked in Major League Baseball's Labor Relations Department. You can contact him at Patrick.Andriola@tufts.edu or follow him on Twitter @tuftspat