The Atlanta Braves currently have the best record in baseball. This team has young studs like Ronald Acuna Jr., Austin Riley, Ozzie Albies, Spencer Strider, Michael Harris II, and more locked up for years to come.
They don’t need to make a very splashy move at the deadline, but there are a few areas of improvement or reinforcement that can help prepare the team for another World Series run in 2023.
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Why the Braves Could Target a Starting Pitcher at the Trade Deadline
The Braves have managed through some massive starting pitcher injuries this season. Kyle Wright won 21 games last year and been limited to just five starts this season. Max Fried has been stellar when he’s pitched (as expected) but has only appeared in five games, as well.
Despite the injuries, the Braves have still posted the seventh-best SP ERA (3.82) in baseball. This is thanks in large part to the steady performances of Charlie Morton, Bryce Elder, and Spencer Strider.
With Max Fried and Kyle Wright working their way back to the big leagues, we are hopeful that the rotation will be fully stocked and ready to go for the postseason push. However, this entire season has served as a reminder that you can never have enough starting pitching.
Why the Braves Would be in the Market for a Lower-End Starting Pitcher Trade Target
We have established that the Braves are in a very strong position. With Fried and Wright on the verge of returning, it is possible they re-establish themselves as the best rotation in baseball.
Thanks to the projected starting pitching depth and the depleted farm system (30th-ranked system according to Fangraphs), the Braves would likely be in the market for insurance. They probably don’t have the prospects to afford a guy like Lucas Giolito, who should be a highly sought after trade target. You can forget about Ohtani, too.
So considering the current depth and the lack of highly ranked prospects, I present to you three starting pitcher options that the Braves could realistically target in 2023.
1. Atlanta Braves Starting Pitcher Trade TargetEmbed from Getty Images
Lance Lynn is in the final year of a two-year, $38 million contract with the White Sox. Lynn’s numbers could leave a lot of fans scratching their heads should a deal be made. Lynn has the pedigree and a track record that points to upside in the second half. His 6.06 ERA and contract could make him a very affordable option in terms of the players the Braves would have to give up.
The big question is do the underlying numbers give Lance Lynn any hope for a good second half?
Lynn is two years removed from an All-Star season and coming off of a solid year in which he posted a 3.99 ERA. Lynn is striking out nearly two more batters per nine than he did last year.
His fastball velocity is in line with what it was last year. Spin rates are actually better this year than last for each pitch. He only walked 1.4 hitters per nine last season, which was way below the norm for Lynn. This season it’s up considerably to 3.3, but that’s right around his career average of 3.1, so that’s not out of the ordinary.
Could Lynn just be unlucky? He leads the league in homers and earned runs allowed. He allowed just eight homers off his four-seam fastball all of last year. This season he’s already allowed 11. His 2.0 HRs/9 IP are by far the highest of his career and exactly double his career average.
The White Sox are toast. They need to get something for Lynn before he goes. He is a very good candidate to provide depth and insurance to a solid rotation and shouldn’t cost much in terms of prospects thanks to his terrible first half.
I like the veteran presence and the upside he could bring to the rotation. Sign me up.
2. Atlanta Braves Starting Pitcher Trade TargetEmbed from Getty Images
The Detroit Tigers appear to be sellers with a 41-51 record. Word is Michael Lorenzen will be on the block. Lorenzen is a starter converted from reliever. Lorenzen is in the final year of his contract with the Tigers.
On the season, Lorenzen has a 3.75 ERA over 16 starts with a 1.13 WHIP. Without much of a track record as a starter and pretty good numbers this year, he should be quite a bit less expensive than some of this peers on the market.
Lorenzen represented the Tigers in this year’s All-Star game and his ERA is 15% better than league average.
He offers a reliable starting option or length out of the bullpen. He could be a dynamic piece of insurance for the Braves as they enter the home stretch.
3. Atlanta Braves Starting Pitcher Trade TargetEmbed from Getty Images
Jack Flaherty was one of the most dominant pitchers in the game between 2018 and 2019. Flaherty has dealt with numerous injuries in the years since and made just 32 starts in the three seasons preceding this year.
Thus far in 2023, Flaherty has pitched pretty well. He has a 4.29 ERA with 96 SOs in 98.1 IP. His 8.8 K/9 is a big drop off from his peak of 10.9 in 2020.
Flaherty seemed to have figured something out since his May 15th start against the Brewers. Flaherty pitched seven scoreless innings with 10 Ks, two walks, and just three hits allowed. In the 10 starts since May 15th, Flaherty has gone 5-1 with a 3.03 ERA.
If the asking price isn’t too high or there aren’t too many bidders for Flaherty, he’s another veteran pitcher with a track record of success. The ceiling is high for what he COULD do and the floor appears to be fairly stable.
Who would you like to see the Braves make a move for? Let us know in the comments below!