3 buy-low trade candidates the Mets should pursue

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Mets buy-low trade candidate: Lucas Giolito

Lucas Giolito has been one of the most consistent, durable starting pitchers in the league for several years, but he really struggled on a disappointing White Sox team in 2022.

“Big Foot,” as he’s affectionately called, made 30 starts and pitched 161.2 innings. He allowed 171 hits, 88 earned runs, 61 walks, and struck out 177 batters. His ERA was 4.90, his FIP was 4.06, his WHIP was 1.44, and his ERA+ was 81.

So what went wrong for him? Well his H/9 jumped from 7.3 in 2021 to 9.5 in 2022. His BB/9 also jumped, from 2.6 in 2021 to 3.4 in 2022. His K/9 was also down slightly, but it was still solid at 9.9 K/9. Part of it was also bad luck, indicated by his FIP (4.06) being almost a full run lower than his ERA (4.90). The White Sox’s poor team defense was also a factor (they ranked 26th in MLB with -35 Defensive Runs Saved).

His Baseball Savant page isn’t pretty, with just three categories having red bubbles. He was in the 91st percentile in extension, 71st percentile in whiff rate, and 67th percentile in strikeout rate. Other than that, all of his numbers are in the 30s and 40s.

The biggest reason for his struggles was the lack of control. As mentioned above, his BB/9 was up significantly, so he had a hard time finding the strike zone. If you look at his heat maps, he missed over the heart of the plate a lot with his fastball and changeup, which is a reason his H/9 is also up. His fastball heatmap is especially telling, since it was either right down the middle or a ball. If he can work on the edge of the plate more, he’ll see much better results.

2023 will be Giolito’s last year of arbitration, so he only comes with one year of control. He is projected to make around $11 million, which he is well worth if he can bounce back. Given the down year he had and only one year of control remaining, his price shouldn’t be too expensive.

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