Should the White Sox trade for an SP at the deadline?

My baby brother Chorizy wrote a blog the other day about how the Trade Deadline is gonna suck, but he’s full of shit.  I think this trade deadline is going to be low key fun, because you might see some real odd moves by teams looking to duck out of contracts and bizarre teams like the Marlins or Orioles adding some averagish talent to increase their chances of going to the playoffs.  I don’t know if there will be any blockbusters, but I expect a flurry of activity

That being said, I could see our White Sox handle this deadline one of two ways when it comes to addressing their starting pitcher shortage……

ONE

Trade for a meh 5th starter type to help them lumber to the finish line in a season where nearly everyone makes the playoffs.  This type of trade will likely only cost whoever is next to be jettisoned off the 40 man and would be shipped off for Cash Considerations like ole Luis Basabe

TWO

Buy a pitcher that really fucking matters and improves the White Sox chances THIS YEAR.  Now, I know, making the playoffs in 2020 is not the hurdle it usually is, but the playoff structure puts a very different emphasis on every team.  Now instead of hustling up to get in the top 5, you only need to sneak into the top 8, but once you do, you have a 3 game series to get to the regular tournament.  Easier barrier to entry and then straight into the pressure cooker.  Now the White Sox currently have the following top 3 starting pitchers for a short series.

Lucas Giolito

Dallas Keuchel

Dylan Cease

I don’t always mean to be picking on Dylan Cease, I’m sure he’s a nice guy, but he’s the weak link here.  If you were rooting for Ricky to pull him before the start of the 6th inning on Sunday, then you obviously know what I am talking about.  He’s just not a guy yet.  Your goal in trading for a starter at the deadline is to make a meaningful push in that 3 game series.  In a perfect world, you’d go out and get a real world beater that’s even better than Giolito and Keuchel, but that’s fucking fantasy land, let’s focus in on just upgrading Cease.  Now how to quantify that???

Let’s go to the betting markets…..

I know some of you don’t understand the betting markets and some of you probably don’t care about those markets at all, but they are a good place to help you make a quick and dirty estimation about what kind of improvement you could be getting by moving Cease to the (we’ll see about letting you pitch in round) position.  Contrary to popular belief the betting markets are about accumulating information (via money bet) on the probability of events.  That’s basically what happens.  The bigger the event, the more money bet on it, IN THEORY, the more likely that a betting line (at the time the windows close and the event is ready to start) is the best estimate of the probabilities.  A daily baseball game isn’t the BIGGEST EVENT around, it’s not an NFL Playoff game or a World Cup game, but it’s gonna end up being pretty good for our purposes.

See the table below.  I plucked a Dylan Cease start and then compared it to another start vs the same team and same pitcher to try and get some homogeneous variables to figure out what kind of improvement we could expect by replacing Cease.

The table above is comparing Dylan Cease vs “A pitcher better than Dylan Cease” in this case Kenta Maeda vs a homogeneous opponent and pitcher. I am using the betting lines (column “Lines”) as the comparison, then converting those lines to implied probabilities (column “Implied”), and finally rounding down those implied probabilities to 100% (now you see how your bookie makes money) in the column “Actual” to show the relative difference in quality in starting pitching options.

Now this isn’t exactly perfect, because the betting line isn’t exactly JUST SP vs SP, there are other variables, but let’s say, for simplicity, those other variables cancel each other out and this 11% edge starting a guy of his caliber over a guy of Cease’s caliber is generally accurate. (Maeda’s 55.4% probability of winning vs Cease’s 44.4% probability of winning in a roughly homogeneous set up)

That means that in a 3 game series, (let’s assume the White Sox are about 50% / 50% in the first two games of the series) an upgrade to a pitcher like this (Maede in the example) for an elimination game of 11% could be upwards of a 5.5% increase in probability of the White Sox winning the entire series (that’s good imo…..imagine adding 5.5% to the chance that you get a date with that attractive person across the bar or that you’ll get that new promotion you are pining for, I bet you’d love that!!!).  You gotta be bleeping me.  

I think Kenta Maeda is damn good, but most of you told me that he wasn’t a concern going to the Twins and maybe that was because he has a career ERA+ of 107.  It would seem like an upgrade of someone maybe a little better than Kenta Maeda for a career who is still pretty good is worth investigating and could swing the chance to advance in each round nicely…..

WHO THEN?

Trevor Bauer

Picture from TheBigLead.com

Bauer is the crown jewel of this market, which is why I don’t think the White Sox will get him, but they should definitely fucking pick up the phone. The Reds are like that friend you have who is always doing something you didn’t expect, and even though it sounds like it COULD turn out okay, it really never does.  Maybe they do that this time and deal him to our White Sox.

Jon Gray

Picture from Wikipedia, special thanks to MySoxSummer for his $3.16 donation

He’s sucked eggs so far this year, and although I said I would trade Michael Kopech for him a little over a month ago, I’d say his trade market has decreased in that time.  He still does technically fit the bill as a pitcher with a career ERA+ of 109.  The Rockies are currently trailing the Giants for a playoff spot, so you know it’s going well.  Gray is controlled through next season so he’s not even just an improvement now, but he’d be here to help in 2021 as well.

Lance Lynn

I love chubby pitchers and this one is a fucking beast.  He’s also under team control through next season, so ditto the Jon Gray shit, but even better, because, you know, #108thicc.

Only 250 lbs!?!?!?!?!

What will these guys costs, I dunno, I doubt any of them cost you your precious Michael Kopech or Andrew Vaughn.  I’d guess it would be a someone or a couple of someones that are younger than them dudes.  Given the restrictions on trades and who can go you might have to slide a guy over to the 60 man for a minute or do some “player to be named later” shit to get the thing across the line, but I suspect that it would take at least young name you are familiar with and possibly two.

-BeefLoaf

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