As the Milwaukee Brewers continue to slide in terms of record, standings, and performance the debate about whether the they should be buyers or sellers becomes legitimized. With that stated, the Brewers are still just 2.5 games out of first place in the NL Central and just 0.5 game out of the wild card race. Based on that reality, we will make the assumption that the Brewers’ front office is in “buy” mode.
The Brewers’ bullpen has been atrocious of late. For a team that leans so heavily on one aspect of their team as do the Brewers, that cannot be an acceptable outcome. The confidence in this team by the Brewers’ front office has to have taken a hit, so investing prospects in rentals might not be the best option for a 49-47 ball club. Finding controllable talent that can help this year and in the future is the articulated formula of David Stearns. A controllable reliever that can help this year too is Baltimore’s Mychal Givens.
Mychal Givens is not the sexiest name out there, but he is controllable until 2022, and his fastball sits on average at a very sexy 95.1 mph. Givens is also available. He has given Baltimore effective relief innings for some time now. Between 2016-2018, Givens pitched in at least 74 2⁄3 innings in each season. So far this season, he has pitched in 36 innings. He has a rubber arm who can pitch a lot.
Is he good though? So far this season, he has a 4.50 ERA and a 4.68 FIP, which is rather pedestrian. Looking at his performance from the previous three seasons for context illustrates a very good pitcher. In 2016 he pitched to a 3.13 ERA and 3.31 FIP. In 2017 he pitched to a 2.75 ERA and a 3.72 FIP. In 2018 he pitched to a 3.99 ERA and 3.07 FIP. His K/9 is generally over 10 and is 12.75 this season. His HR/FB percentage has gone up dramatically this year (24.2%), but that might be related to one rather poor outing against New York in May and another one against Boston in June. Otherwise he has been solid, and he has that track record of being quite good.
If we look at what he has done since June 4, which includes a blow up against Boston, Givens has been great. He has pitched in 11 1⁄3 innings. He has a K/9 of 14.29. He has pitched to a 2.38 ERA and a 3.12 FIP. He still gave up those two home runs to the Red Sox on June 16, but otherwise has been lights out.
Givens is 29 years old, and he would be relatively cheap moving forward. Right now he makes $2.2M, and he will likely get a bump over the next three years. Is he the type of arm with the type of control that they are looking to get? He probably is. Whether he becomes too expensive from a Brewers’ perspective going into three arbitration years is another story, and it is a story for another time (like in that third year).
He is not a brand name, but pitches close to one. He is the type of pitcher that David Stearns tends to like (under-the-radar and good). This would be a Brewers’ move that helps the team right now and helps the team in the future. From what I have seen being suggested as his asking price is also quite acceptable for a pitcher of his quality, a top 10 or so organizational prospect (definitely top 10 in Brewers’ organization) accompanied with a lottery ticket type of player. That price tag may go up as the number of teams come calling, but if that is the cost of Givens, Stearns and Company should move on this one and quickly.
Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs