It's a foregone conclusion that when July 31, 2013, roles around this year that Jose Veras will be in another team's uniform. All one has to do is look at Jeff Luhnow's trade history with good relievers on this club; Mark Melancon traded to Red Sox; David Carpenter and Brandon Lyon traded to the Blue Jays; Brett Myers traded to the White Sox; Wilton Lopez traded to the Rockies. Bye, bye Veras.
As I did last year, in looking for a possible suitor for Veras , I started with the shutdown to meltdown ratio for teams. For those that are unfamiliar with those two statistics, a shutdown (SD) is gained when a reliever increases his teams chances to win by 6%; a meltdown (MD) is gained when a reliever decreases his teams chance to win by 6%. If you would like to learn more about the two statistics you can check out the FanGraphs library page on SD and MD here.
After calculating the difference between a team's SD and MD statistics (SD - MD) I take a look at a teams SIERA numbers. SIERA is the predecessor to FIP and xFIP and I like it for relievers because it takes into account batted ball data. A strikeout pitcher is still the best kind of reliever, however, there are pitchers that become good relievers despite a less than ideal strikeout rate. Wilton Lopez, for example, is a very good reliever despite a career strikeout per nine (K/9) of 6.56. What Lopez does well is limit walks and get a very high percentage of ground balls. He has a 3.02 SIERA, a 3.22 FIP and a 3.26 xFIP for his career. Again if you would like to find out more about SIERA you can check out the FanGraphs library page for SIERA here.
All stats are prior to Wednesday's games
In contrast Veras has a high strikeout rate, a high walk rate and a low ground ball rate. His 3.02 SIERA this year is well below his career 3.71 SIERA and he has 14 SD to 4 MD. He's pitched very well this year, producing a higher strikeout rate, a lower walk rate while also getting more ground balls. His success this year might not be reflected in his ERA but it is in his SIERA numbers.
Veras is a good reliever but he's more Brandon Lyon or David Carpenter than he is Mark Melancon, Brett Myers or Wilton Lopez. That won't stop Luhnow from getting something of value for him but it does mean that his options are limited. Below you'll find four of the five teams at or around .500, which doesn't preclude him from being traded to a more competitive team it just means that these are the best fits in terms of what Veras has provided in value so far this season and what the teams need.
The White Sox were the third team on my list last year for Brett Myers and he was statistically one of the best relievers available. Veras has not produced at the same level as Myers last year, which makes him valuable to fewer teams. Veras will get traded this year; unfortunately, I can't assure you that Veras will be traded to one of these five teams. Teams bullpen situations can change due to ineffectiveness and injury or teams can fill a need via a trade or a call up. What I can assure you is that each of these five teams needs help in the bullpen and Veras could provide some improvement.
5) Tampa Bay Rays 36-35 (4th in Division)
This is one of those teams that's been on and off the top five. On the one hand Joel Peralta leads the team with 16 SD to 6 MD and a 3.54 SIERA. On the other hand they're the Rays and they have called up Alex Torres and Barndon Gomes both of whom have posted SIERA numbers at or below a 2.33 SIERA. Jake McGee also has a SIERA below three but not as good SD to MD ratio. If you're wondering about Fernando Rodney, he's come down from his 2012 high and is one of the Rays worst options out of the bullpen.
Tampa Bay doesn't seem like the type of team that goes trading for relievers , they have a small payroll and a good farm system. Veras, however, is a known commodity and a reliable one at that. He wouldn't be the best option for the Rays but he would be one of the more proven ones if acquired.
4) Detroit Tigers 39-31 (1st in Division)
The other day a commenter suggested that Veras should be traded to the Tigers. The Twitter poll I took while writing this article, also suggested that a majority of people thought the Tigers would be a good destination for Veras. Jose Valverde's struggles have been well documented but he hasn't necessarily been all bad with seven SD and three MD and a 3.29 SIERA, which isn't far off from his 3.21 career SIERA.* Joaquin Benoit has been very good with a 2.53 SIERA and 12 SD to only one MD. Drew Smyly and Darin Downs both have SIERA's under three and positive SD to MD ratios.
Veras is certainly a fit but he's likely only the fourth best reliever on this team.
*Of course as I'm writing this article Valverde gives up four runs in one inning.
3) Kansas City Royals 34-35 (3rd in Division)
Greg Holland is a force to be reckoned with out of the Royals bullpen. He has 12 SD to only two MD and a 1.99 SIERA. The Royals next best reliever is Aaron Crow who has 11 SD to six MD and a 3.75 SIERA. Luke Hochevar has a 3.26 SIERA but also one SD to three MD. Overall the Royals bullpen has depth but lacks balance and aside from Holland there's not really a reliable reliever the Royals can count on. If Veras were acquired by the Royals he would become a one of the more reliable members of the bullpen and likely the eighth inning reliever.
2) Philadelphia Phillies 35-37 (2nd in Division)
Jonathan Papelbon leads the Phillies Bullpen with 14 SD, one MD and a 2.87 SIERA. Mike Adams is the Phillies next best reliever with 10 SD to five MD and a 3.52 SIERA. After those two the Phillies have only two other relievers who have gone more than 20 innings and neither have a positive SD to MD ratio. Justin De Fratus and Michael Stutes have pitched well for the Phillies but come with statistical flags that suggest a negative regression in the future. Like the Royals Veras would likely become the eighth inning guy for the Phillies as well as provide some much needed depth.
1) Cleveland Indians 35-35 (2nd in Division)
The Indians don't have a reliever with double digit SD this season and their best reliever, Joe Smith, has seven SD to three MD and a 2.87 SIERA. Cody Allen has the teams best SIERA at 2.50 but has as many SD as he has MD with six. Both Cody Allen and Joe Smith have LOB% numbers well above average, which indicates some possible negative regression that could work against them. Bryan Shaw is the next best reliever with a 3.60 SIERA and eight SD to five MD. If you're wondering what's up with Chris Perez, the Indians 2012 closer, he's dealing with a strained rotator cuff and some off the field issues. Veras easily becomes one of the Indians best relievers.