Toronto Blue Jays: Why they Should Trade for Andrew Cashner


Toronto Blue Jays: Why they Should Trade for Andrew Cashner

With the All-Star Game in the rear-view mirror, the Toronto Blue Jays will turn their attention back to the field where they continue their quest to end their elusive 22-year playoff drought.

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But for fans of the Blue Jays, the departure of the All-Star Game also restarts the discussion about “who the Jays should trade for”. Many feel that the answer to the Jays’ problems lies on the banks of Ohio, where Cincinnati Reds pitchers Johnny Cueto and Aroldis Chapman reside.

Of course, adding players like Cueto and/or Chapman would be phenomenal — there’s no denying that. But in order to complete a trade like that, it would require the Jays to deplete their farm system and probably part ways with some promising young talent.

Instead, what if there was a pitcher who was similar to other aces around the league, but would probably come at a much cheaper cost? Take a look at these three pitchers:

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Pitcher A is Cole Hamels. Pitcher B is Johnny Cueto. And Pitcher C is Andrew Cashner.

The first two names are the typical high-priced trade targets you hear everyone saying the Blue Jays should pursue. But why not pursue Andrew Cashner instead?

He’s a low-risk, high-reward pitcher who is in the final year of his contract, so there is minimal commitment required. He has three above average pitches and the potential of a future ace.

Don’t let his 3-10 record fool you either. The Padres simply don’t hit when Cashner touches the rubber. In 18 starts this season, the Padres have scored a total of 55 runs for Cashner, good for an average of 3.05 runs per game.

Even worse, in six of his 10 losses this season, Cashner has allowed two earned runs or less, again exemplifying just how poor the Padres offence is when he’s pitching.

Jun 27, 2015; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Padres starting pitcher Andrew Cashner (34) pitches during the first inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Poor offence aside, Cashner’s numbers sit right around where they were last year. His K/9 is actually up to 7.96, his BB/9 has increased slightly to 2.79 and his ground ball rate is slightly down from last season, sitting at 47.2 percent.

The problem for Cashner this season has been a combination of bad luck and a mechanical error that has caused a spike in his home run rate, particularly against left-handed hitters.

Let’s look at the bad luck side of things first, though.

Right off the bat a couple of metrics that stand out — and should progress forward to the mean — are his .312 BABIP, his 61.5 percent left on base rate and his 11.9 percent home run to fly ball rate.

With a FIP of 3.86 and a xFIP of 3.70, Cashner should actually pitch better in the future. However, the Padres poor defence has hindered his left on base rate this season, which has plummeted from 75.3 percent last season, to 61.5 percent this year. Considering Cashner has a career LOB% of 70.9 percent, expecting some progression to the mean is natural.

Basically, those metrics are so out of line with not only last season, but also his career averages, that they should stabilize during the second half of the season.

As for his mechanical issues, Michael Beller of Sports Illustrated did a great job outlining his problems. Ultimately, it boils down to two things here:

1. His sinker isn’t getting the same vertical movement that it did last season and lefties are driving it to the tune of a .283/.369/.555 slash line to go along with 10 homers.

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  • 2. He’s falling off to first base, signalling that his mechanics are out of whack. By him not finishing his pitches, his arm is dragging, which causes his sinker to stay up in the zone and allows lefties to get underneath what comes in as a “flat” sinker.

    The good news about both of these issues, though, is that they are very fixable, especially for a veteran like Cashner.

    The additional good news for teams interested in acquiring him is that he’s not just another bi-product of the spacious confines at Petco Park. Sure, he’s allowed three or less earned runs in five of his seven starts at Petco this season, but he’s also allowed three or less runs in seven of his 11 road starts too.

    Bottom line, Cashner is still dealing when he takes to the mound. The biggest difference, though, is bad luck, mechanics and the long ball have hindered him this season.

    But putting everything into perspective, Cashner is the ideal buy-low trade target the Blue Jays desire. Cost wise he’s more than affordable, with one-year left on his $4 million contract. Ceiling wise, he has the potential of an ace. As for trade capital, it probably wouldn’t take a top-flight prospect to acquire him.

    Who knows, with the Padres in the midst of a disappointing season, they could be in the market to sell off multiple pieces. Perhaps the Jays could swoop in and put together a package that would see them acquire Cashner and some bullpen help like Joaquin Benoit, Craig Kimbrel or Kevin Quackenbush. That would certainly increase the cost, but at the same time it would fulfill both of the Jays pitching needs.

    Moral of the analysis?

    Go buy Andrew Cashner before his statistics catch up to his talent.

    Next: Why Josh Donaldson Won't Fall Victim to the HR Derby Curse

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