The Pirates made their first deadline move Monday afternoon, sending Jordan Lyles to the Milwaukee Brewers for RHP Cody Ponce.
Lyles had a magnificent April and May, recording a 1.97 ERA through his first eight starts. That magic quickly wore off, and the Pirates were left trying to sell a 5-7 pitcher with a 5.36 ERA.
The Brewers should be happy to reunite with Lyles. Their starting pitching depth is thin at the moment, but once their rotation gets healthy, Lyles could slide back into the bullpen role he thrived in last year.
Ponce, 25, is rated as a 40 grade prospect by FanGraphs. After struggling as a starter in AA last year, he made the transition to the bullpen, where he has pitched well. He has a 3.29 ERA and 2.58 FIP in 27 appearances in AA this year. At 6’6”, 240 and a 60 grade fastball, he certainly fits the Pirates’ mold of big pitchers.
According to 2080 Baseball, his fastball sits in the 93-96 MPH range. They recorded his mechanics while on a rehab assignment in May.
Ponce’s 56.3% ground ball rate is the best of his career and the 26th best among AA pitchers (min. 30 IP).
While looking at Lyles’ trade value Friday, I projected him to bring back a 40+ grade pitcher or 40 grade hitter. I was a little high, but it’s clear Lyles’ two disastrous starts since the All-Star game tanked his value.