Finding a Match for Alex Colome: Atlanta Braves

Since returning from the All-Star Break, the Chicago White Sox have lost nine of their last twelve games. They are 11 games out of a playoff spot and eight games below .500 (45-53), and FanGraphs puts their odds of making it to the postseason at 0.0 percent. That means the Sox made the playoffs in 0 out of the 10,000 simulations they most recently ran.

With this in mind, one can bet that they will be sellers at the trade deadline once again this season. One player they could potentially look to move is relief pitcher Alex Colome, who has put up solid numbers in 2019…

  • IP: 38.2
  • K/9: 6.98
  • BB/9: 2.79
  • ERA: 2.33
  • WHIP: 0.80

Photo: The Athletic

His advanced pitching metrics suggest he is most definitely on the receiving end of abundant batted ball luck (3.95 FIP, 4.70 xFIP, and 4.44 SIERA). There are two main reasons why he doesn’t grade out well in those metrics…

  1. He’s not a strikeout machine and those stats value a pitcher’s strikeout rate highly (that’s something he can control)
  2. His BABIP is a ridiculous .153 (league average for a reliever is .298)

Of the 29,591 pitchers to register at least 30 innings during a single season, only one of them has a lower batting average on balls in play than Colome. That lone pitcher is Yimi Garcia (.135 BABIP this season).

At first, my thought process was that Alex Colome must be excellent at minimizing hard contact. But in taking a closer look, I found that he’s actually in the 10th percentile in terms of average exit velocity, which is very poor.

If I were a general manager, I’d have little interest in acquiring Colome because I’d probably have to pay a premium price for a pitcher who will inevitably regress. With that being said, teams are still reportedly expressing interest in trading for the White Sox closer…

The Braves, whose bullpen has produced a combined -0.1 wins below replacement (according to FanGraphs), which is tied with the Tigers and Orioles for the 26th worst mark in the majors, could surely use an upgrade or two to their relief corps.

The cost to acquire Colome will presumably come on the lighter side, considering the fact that natural regression is due to hit him in a matter of time and that there are plenty of other relievers available (Kirby Yates, Will Smith, Shane Greene, etc.) who are more talented. Also, I have hard time seeing the team who acquires Colome keeping him on board for the 2020 season considering he will likely make around $10 million in arbitration (for reference, his contract in 2019 was for $7.325 million). Here’s a deal that I could see happening…

Atlanta Braves trade LHP Tucker Davidson to the Chicago White Sox in return for RHP Alex Colome

Tucker Davidson, who is ranked by FanGraphs as the Braves’ 19th best prospect, has the upside of a back-end starter. He’s put up very good numbers this season in double-A…

  • IP: 92.2
  • GS: 18
  • K/9: 10.10
  • BB/9: 3.79
  • HR/9: 0.29
  • ERA: 2.04
  • FIP: 2.83
  • xFIP: 3.02
  • WHIP: 1.21
Rome Braves starting pitcher Tucker Davidson (8) delivers a pitch during a game against the Asheville Tourists at McCormick Field on July 29, 2017 in Asheville, North Carolina. The Braves defeated the Tourists 7-3. (Tony Farlow/Four Seam Images)

His control is still a work in progress, as evidenced by his walk rate which is approaching 4.00, but the high strikeout rate holds some promise. Here’s what Eric Longenhagen and Kiley McDaniel had to say about Davidson prior to the start of the 2019 campaign…

Davidson was a low-profile JC arm the Braves gambled on in 2016 and after improving his body composition entering the 2017 season, his stuff and command improved too, and he looked like a potential no. 4 starter. Davidson’s 2018 season wasn’t as good, as his stuff and command were both a bit worse, so he’s now at the nexus of back-end starter or depth relief lefty, though the upside of being a starter in the big leagues keeps him ahead of some of the 35 FV lefty relievers below (Clouse and Burrows) with similar stuff.

This deal benefits both sides involved in my opinion. The Braves bolster the back-end of their bullpen and the White Sox pick up a pitching prospect who is relatively close to making his MLB debut (he’s dominating AA). In trading Colome, the Sox can turn over the closing job to Aaron Bummer (1.73 ERA, 3.17 FIP, 3.32 xFIP in 36.1 IP in the big leagues), who can get some valuable experience in prior to next season (when he’ll likely be their full-time closer).

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