When Padres left-handed relievers are brought up in trade conversations, almost always the subject is Brad Hand.
Perhaps there is another lefty in the Padres’ bullpen that deserves some attention?
Ryan Buchter was a breakout relief star for the Padres after signing as a free agent last season, posting surprising numbers (63.0 IP, 78 SO, 1.032 WHIP, 11.1 SO/9, 2.86 ERA).
This season, Buchter has posted impressive numbers once again (32.2 IP, 40 SO, 1.255 WHIP, 11.0 SO/9, 3.03 ERA), and while these numbers may not be quite as good as last season, he still has shown value.
With nearly four arbitration years remaining, Buchter could be a valuable bullpen piece for a number of teams for a number of years.
The trade conversations should start with Brad Hand when talking about Padres relievers, but Buchter does deserve recognition.
According to Jeff Todd of MLB Trade Rumors, Ryan Buchter is in the top 7 of available left-handed relievers https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2017/07/mlbtr-poll-left-handed-reliever-trade-candidates.html. He is joined by Jerry Blevins, Tony Cingrani, Sean Doolittle, Brad Hand, Tony Watson, and Justin Wilson. An argument could be made for Buchter being in the top three on that list.
The following is a ranking of trade value in tiers:
(Tier one being the most valuable, and tier four being the least)
Brad Hand (44.2 IP, 56 SO, 0.940 WHIP, 11.3 SO/9, 2.42 ERA)
Justin Wilson (32.2 IP, 48 SO, 0.947 WHIP, 13.2 SO/9, 2.48 ERA)
Ryan Buchter (32.2 IP, 40 SO, 1.255 WHIP, 11.0 SO/9, 3.03 ERA)
Jerry Blevins (28.0 IP, 39 SO, 1.357 WHIP, 12.5 SO/9, 3.21 ERA)
Sean Doolittle (18.1 IP, 27 SO, 0.764 WHIP, 13.3 SO/9, 3.93 ERA)
Tony CIngrani (16.2 IP, 16 SO, 1.020 WHIP, 8.6 SO/9, 2.70 ERA)
Tony Watson (38.1 IP, 29SO, 1.591WHIP, 6.8 SO/9, 3.99 ERA)
Brad Hand and Justin Wilson appear to be far and away the most valuable lefties on the market. These two relievers have been dominant on their respective teams. Hand and Wilson have both shown the ability to shut down right and left-handed batters whenever they are called upon.
They both carry WHIPs under one, double-digit SO/9, and ERAs just under 2.50.Brad Hand has more value over Wilson because he has 1 more year of control, and his ability to pitch a high number of innings at a high level. Hand, of course, has been chosen as the Padres’ All-Star representative, which is a rare honor for a middle reliever.
The next tier has Buchter, and Blevins. Blevins has managed a very impressive SO/9, and ERA, but Buchter possesses more value because of his versatility. Blevins has functioned as a specialist that pitches primarily to left-handed batters. He has pitched against 76 left-handed batters, and 45 right-handed batters. Right-handed batters have a .343 batting average against Blevins, while left-handers have only hit .155. Buchter has faced 84 right-handed batters and 55 left-handed batters, and right-handed batters are batting .224 versus Buchter, and left-handers bat .191. This versatility and his years of control (four) will treat Buchter nicely when it comes to trade season.
Doolittle and Cingrani fill out tier number three, and they have both looked very impressive this season. Unfortunately, both Cingrani and Doolittle have had injuries that have limited their innings, and heightened the concerns of general managers around the league, which is the main reason for their placement in tier number three. Both of them are controllable, Doolittle with three years of control, and Cingrani with two years. Doolittle has an impressive WHIP and SO/9, but this could be a product of small sample size. Also, Doolittle has an ERA that is a little higher than expected, but this could be attributed to questionable defensive play behind him. Tony Cingrani has an impressive ERA and WHIP, but this could also be the product of a small sample size. Additionally, his SO/9 could be cause for concern, especially for an impact reliever.
Finally, tier four contains the final pitcher on the list, Tony Watson. Watson has not put up eye-popping numbers. His WHIP, ERA, and SO/9 have not been impressive, but he could still be helpful for teams that are in need of a left-handed reliever out of the bullpen.
As expected, Brad Hand tops the chart, but Ryan Buchter does deserve to be in the conversation as a top-three left-handed relief pitcher on the trading block. He is overshadowed by his teammate, but he has been a valuable piece in the Padres’ bullpen this season. Buchter could be a match for a number of teams this season that look to make a postseason run. Some potential fits for Ryan Buchter are the Nationals, Dodgers, Yankees, or Astros.