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7 under-the-radar starters who could be traded

@RichardJustice
June 16, 2019

We’re not going to be surprised if Madison Bumgarner is traded. We also wouldn’t be surprised to see Marcus Stroman, Matthew Boyd or even Robbie Ray end up on contenders by the July 31 Trade Deadline. Zack Greinke is a fascinating possibility if the D-backs consider moving in that direction.

We’re not going to be surprised if Madison Bumgarner is traded. We also wouldn’t be surprised to see Marcus Stroman, Matthew Boyd or even Robbie Ray end up on contenders by the July 31 Trade Deadline. Zack Greinke is a fascinating possibility if the D-backs consider moving in that direction.

All of those pitchers could have a significant impact on postseason races. On the other hand, these things are impossible to measure. Last season, while we were rightly focused on the trades of Cole Hamels to the Cubs, Chris Archer to the Pirates and Manny Machado to the Dodgers, three more unheralded acquisitions were probably every bit as significant.

That would be the deals the Yankees, Astros and Red Sox swung for Luke Voit, Ryan Pressly and Nathan Eovaldi, respectively. All three clubs were already headed to the postseason, and all were better teams after those deals. With those in mind, let’s look at seven under-the-radar pitchers who could have an impact on the postseason picture.

1) Jordan Lyles, Pirates right-hander
One of the shrewdest signings of the last offseason, Jordan Lyles has remade himself mid-career, and he has delivered a string of first-rate performances. He’s on the 10-day injured list with hamstring tightness, but he's not expected to be sidelined much after that.

Potential landing spots: Lyles would make sense for the Yankees, Rangers or possibly the Brewers, where he finished last season and thrived on their data-driven assistance with pitch usage.

2) Brett Anderson, A’s left-hander
Brett Anderson is proving again that when healthy, he can deliver at a consistently high level. At this point, the A’s aren’t in a sell mode. If that changes, executive vice president of baseball operations Billy Beane could leverage Anderson into a solid prospect.

Potential landing spots: The Phillies and Nationals could both use him since the asking price may not be too high, and both clubs have other areas to address.

3) Caleb Smith, Marlins left-hander
Caleb Smith is averaging 11.2 strikeouts per nine innings, and he has grown increasingly confident in all three of his pitches (fastball, slider, changeup). Given his age (27) and years of control (through 2024), the Marlins appear in no rush to trade him.

Potential landing spots: Smith is that guy who could benefit from the Astros' or Brewers' ability to tweak pitch usage and help him exploit hitter weaknesses. He’d make sense for either.

4) Zack Wheeler, Mets right-hander
The Mets haven’t given any indication that they’re going do more than listen on any of their players, especially one of their starters. But the Mets have spent most of the past two months in third place, and they haven’t been above .500 since early May. With Zack Wheeler a few months from free agency and his stuff still elite, the Mets are going to be getting lots of calls about him.

Potential landing spots: The Astros, Dodgers and Brewers may all have some interest if they believe they can fix their problems this season and maximize his potential.

5) Mike Leake, Mariners right-hander
Mike Leake's fastball velocity is a career-low 87.9 percent, according to Fangraphs, and he’s throwing it just 34.4 percent of the time. But it’s hard to argue with the results. He has put together three straight quality starts, including a 119-pitch complete game against the Astros. Since a tough April, he has six quality starts in eight turns.

Potential landing spots: Leake could be a nice addition to the Twins' or Rangers' rotation, and his contract -- $15 million in 2020 and a mutual option for '21 -- should not prevent a deal from getting done.

6) Andrew Cashner, Orioles right-hander
Andrew Cashner is throwing his fastball less than half the time for the first time in his career, even though it still touches 95-96 mph. But he trusts a new changeup, and he is working to fine-tune it. As long as he’s healthy, there’ll be contenders with interest.

Potential landing spots: Cashner is two years removed from a very solid season with the Rangers, and he's still only 32 years old. He could be a leap of faith for a lot of contenders, and he could be a fallback choice for the Twins or even Indians.

7) Tanner Roark, Reds right-hander
Tanner Roark has been everything the Reds hoped he’d be, and he would only be dealt if Cincinnati is convinced that it's out of contention. Given his impending free agency and solid performance in 2019, he could be in demand.

Potential landing spots: The Phillies and Braves saw a lot of Roark during his six seasons with the Nationals, and he could be a nice fit on either.

Richard Justice has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter at @RichardJustice.