ATLANTA - SEPTEMBER 27: Derek Lowe #32 of the Atlanta Braves pitches against the Philadelphia Phillies at Turner Field on September 27, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
In 2010, the Cleveland Indians' pitching staff posted the highest ground ball rate in the American League. In 2011, the Cleveland Indians' pitching staff posted the highest ground ball rate in the American League. In 2012, the Cleveland Indians' pitching staff is the odds-on favorite to post the highest ground ball rate in the American League.
Yes, it's noted sinker-baller Derek Lowe. Over the past three years, Lowe has posted a ground ball rate of 58 percent, which is the fourth-highest in baseball, between Brandon League and Jake Westbrook. Lowe's always leaned heavily on ground balls, and that isn't changing with age.
Why was this trade made? For the Indians, they get to add a veteran to round out their starting rotation. With the four pitchers already mentioned and Josh Tomlin, Cleveland has a respectable starting five that could allow the team to hang in the race next season. Lowe was much better than his 5.05 ERA last year, and the Indians are banking on a rebound.
And for the Braves, Lowe was dealt to clear some payroll and open up a rotation spot. Lowe is due $15 million in 2012, and while the Braves are thought to be picking up $10 million of that, that means they're dumping about $5 million on the Indians. And a rotation spot was needed, because the Braves have a lot of starting pitching coming up through the system. Tommy Hanson, Tim Hudson, Jair Jurrjens and Brandon Beachy are already established. Then there's Randall Delgado, Mike Minor, Arodys Vizcaino, and Julio Teheran...the Braves have enough arms that Lowe was more than expendable.
Lowe's set to become a free agent after the year, and at the cost of $5 million and a minor leaguer of little significance, he's a pretty cheap add for Cleveland. This looks like one of those deals that'll be good for both sides.
The minor leaguer of little significance is Chris Jones, a 23-year-old lefty reliever who spent last season in advanced-A. He doesn't throw 100, but he doesn't throw 85, either, and he could one day cut it in the back of a big league bullpen. Maybe. But probably not.