Treat this as a public service announcement. I am going to offer a few innings limit situations that are certainly worth monitoring over the last few months of the season. However, in some of these situations, you may want to act sooner rather than later.
- Sell High on Brandon Woodruff
He has an exceptional fastball and just struck 13 batters this Sunday. Walks are down, swinging strikes are up, but so are his innings. The Brewers are poised for a playoff run again this year, but Woodruff has already thrown 94.1 innings. Across two levels, he threw 113.1 regular season. Even with a somewhat risky 40 inning increase this year, that only allows him about 50 more regular season innings. Now, if you are selling Woodruff, it must be for a top 20 starter. For example, I’d trade Woodruff for Wheeler based on the innings concerns I have.
- The Dodgers will do Dodger things
Kenta Maeda will not be allowed to earn all of his contract incentives. I don’t think it’s worth making any big changes at this point, but he may have some start skips or a phantom IL stint on the horizon. If someone is knocking down your door, think of his innings as a tiebreaker on their offer. Walker Buehler is an obvious sell high for me. The Dodgers will want to save as many bullets as possible for the postseason and Buehler is their ace. Buehler has been a monster lately so you need to get a legitimate ace if you’re dealing him, but the Dodgers are not going to push him in September when the games don’t matter for LA. Finally, Urias is not going to be the starting pitcher some hope he’ll be. I’ve added Ross Stripling and I’d still be looking to deal for him in the wake of Hill’s injury. There’s just no incentive to make Urias a traditional starter at this point. His innings are already limited and his versatility will be helpful in limiting Maeda, Buehler, and Ryu down the stretch. Barring a Kershaw injury, just understand what Urias is. He’s worth rostering in many formats, but he’s behind Stripling for me.
- Jesus Luzardo don’t need no stinking innings limit
Contrasted from some other pitching prospects you might be stashing or monitoring, I have zero concern about Luzardo’s workload. His shoulder injury effectively limited his innings for him. So, I’d be looking to get him somehow. Once he’s up, he’s not going to see the restriction that Cease or McKay will see.
- Chris Paddack just isn’t worth the hassle
I know we’re all looking for pitching upside at this point in the season. But, that’s exactly why I’m listening to offers on Paddack. His 2018, a year removed from Tommy John surgery, saw Paddack throw 90 innings. He’s already thrown 70.2 in 2019. The Padres have limited his pitches per start and he’s already spent some time int he minors to skip a turn or two. I just can’t see the Padres pushing Paddack past 125 innings at most. When you need him in your playoffs during September, the risk of him being shut down is just too alarming for me. Move him while he’s still viewed as a difference maker. This does not even take into consideration the fact that Paddack’s changeup (possibly due to a lack of deception in arm speed) has been significantly less effective over the last month as we saw in April.
- Max Fried is looking a little fried
Ok, I’m sorry, but I had to. Fried is fine, and I don’t think the innings situation is the primary concern. Fried’s control has gotten worse each month this season, topping out at a 9.2 BB% in June. As a result, after a 2.30 ERA through April, Fried has been average since. He’s a useful pitcher, but if this trend continues the Braves have the capacity to change his role. Similar to Woodruff, Fried threw 112 innings last year across several levels and is already at 88.2 in 2019. With Keuchel now in the mix, I expect the Braves to be creative with the way they deploy Fried and Soroka down the stretch. They have so many options, and more walks from Fried will make those options that much more enticing.
Advice: As a general rule, you need to get ahead of these things. With that being said, just as you’ll hear as the trade deadline approaches, most of these fears are less severe than they seem. However, if you can get even full value for any of these guys; take these notes as a reminder that the window for doing so is closing. If you decide to hold for now, I would see it all the way through. Don’t give these guys up for discounts in a month when you’re receiving pennies on the dollar. Young pitchers are fun and valuable, but championships are won in September!
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