According to Ken Rosenthal, the Pittsburgh Pirates have traded right-handed pitcher Jordan Lyles to the Milwaukee Brewers.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) July 29, 2019
Robert Murray says that the Pirates have acquired 25-year-old right-handed pitcher Cody Ponce in the deal.
— Robert Murray (@ByRobertMurray) July 29, 2019
More on this shortly.
UPDATE: Ponce was covered here back in 2015 when he was considered to be a later round pick before falling to the Milwaukee Brewers in the second round with the 55th pick. He was rated as high as ninth overall among prospects in the Brewers system by Baseball America back in 2015, but has slowly dropped out of the top 30, before reappearing in this year’s mid-season update at 25th overall. He has a fastball that touches 95 MPH, along with a cutter and curve that show potential. He has thrown a changeup in the past, but it was clearly his fourth pitch. He moved from starting to relief last year and this season in Double-A, he has a 3.29 ERA in 38.1 innings, with 44 strikeouts, a .236 BAA, a 1.17 WHIP and a career best 1.75 GO/AO ratio. He’s big at 6’6″, 240 pounds, but it appears the bullpen is his future.
Pirates make the deal official
OFFICIAL: The Pirates have acquired RHP Cody Ponce from the Brewers in exchange for RHP Jordan Lyles.
— Pirates (@Pirates) July 29, 2019
UPDATE 3:25 PM: Thoughts from Tim Williams…
Considering how Lyles has struggled, you don’t expect a big return for him, if you expected any return at all. Ponce doesn’t have a lot of upside as a future reliever, but the Pirates are in need of relievers going forward, so he’s a welcome addition to their depth.
Ponce was a starter up until last year, when he made the switch to the bullpen. His results weren’t horrible, with a 4.36 ERA and a 4.08 xFIP. He’s done better this year, with fewer walks, more strikeouts, and a 3.29 ERA/2.82 xFIP. You’d have to wonder if this is due to repeating the level as a reliever, or if there’s a significant change.
I wouldn’t be surprised if the Pirates try Ponce back in the rotation, if only to get him plenty of innings to evaluate him. He’s Rule 5 eligible this offseason, although I don’t think that would be an issue, since this is the second year in a row he’s been eligible, and Double-A relievers don’t usually get taken and protected all year.
As for Lyles, the experiment to switch him to the rotation had a great start and a horrible finish. I’m not sure what happened to make him completely fall apart, or whether it was the first month and a half that were the fluke. You do wonder how successful the Pirates would have been if they just brought him in as a reliever and a depth starter. However, with all of the injuries to the rotation this year, it would have been inevitable that he would have been a starter at some point, and for a good amount of time. My guess is the Brewers move him back to the bullpen, where he had success with them last year.
Montana DuRapau will come up to take the spot on the 25-man roster that was left by Lyles.