The #2016BrewersAce was at it again last night, tossing 8.2 masterful innings against the Pittsburgh Pirates while allowing one run on four hits, one walk, and five strikeouts. Junior Guerra missed finishing the Brewers first complete game of 2016 (and first since Taylor Jungmann’s in July of 2015) only when a ball that was heading for Scooter Gennett deflected off of the second base umpire, resulting in an automatic base hit. Jeremy Jeffress came on and threw one pitch to record his 25th save.
With his performance yesterday, Guerra lowered his season ERA to 2.70, a number that ranks eighth among qualified major league starters. Here are some of the names on the list around him:
7. Steven Strasburg 2.68
8. Junior Guerra 2.70
11. Jake Arrieta 2.76
12. Jose Fernandez 2.79
Guerra’s 3.3 RA9-WAR ranks 23rd in the major leagues despite ranking 88th with 103.1 innings pitched after spending the first month of the season in the minor leagues. Since being called up on May 3rd, Junior Guerra has unarguably been the ace the Brewers rotation. In 16 starts covering 103.1 innings, Guerra has posted a 2.70 ERA, 3.67 FIP, and an 85:34 K/BB rate. He’s shown to be adept at generating both ground balls (46.3%) and infield pop ups (11%) along with a 20.8% K rate and an 11% swinging strike rate.
Despite Guerra’s rookie status and immense value (he’s earning just the league minimum this year and the next two seasons, then three years of arbitration eligibility) there are plenty of folks around Brewerland that seem to be in a hurry to trade him due to his age (31) and unconventional road to the big leagues.
There is interest around the league in Guerra’s services as there were several scouts present to watch his start last night, but according to a report from Jon Heyman earlier this morning it doesn’t sound like the team is in any rush to sell low on their breakout rookie sensation.
price on junior guerra is "higher than cashner." and should be. 7-2, 2.70, plus 5 yrs control. #crew not anxious to deal— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) July 30, 2016
(The Marlins recently acquired Andrew Cashner, Colin Rea, and Tayron Guerrero and cash from the Padres in exchange for Jared Cosart, Josh Naylor, Luis Castillo, and Carter Caps).
In this starting pitching market, the Brewers could make a case for something like two top-100 type prospects in return for Guerra. If someone is willing to meet the price, then great. But GM David Stearns has shown that he’s extremely patient when it comes to trading players, and he won’t ship someone out simply for the sake of making a move.
It’s difficult for me to envision the Brewers getting overwhelmed with an offer for Juni G at this point and I think he’ll remain in Milwaukee at least through the end of this season. I would bet on him to continue performing at a high level over the course of a full season, and then market him in the winter when he’s a more known commodity and teams are more willing to part with top prospects.
Another possibility is that the Brewers return some MLB-ready prospects over the next few days in other potential trades. Guerra’s presence in the rotation could perhaps then help fast track the rebuild, providing well above-average production in the starting rotation.
Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs