A's Or Tigers: Who Won Trade Deadline 2014?

  • David Young

David Price

The 2014 Non-Waiver Trade Deadline has passed, and as deadlines go, it was a good one. The Red Sox Fire Sale continued – when’s the last time a reigning World Series winner gave away its starting rotation? – while the Cardinals, Mariners, Braves and Nationals made some positive moves for October. But the real story was the starting pitching acquisitions made by the A’s and the Tigers. So who won? Or rather, Who has a better chance of getting a ring this year?

The Oakland A’s got a new number one starter, who’s a lefty (giving them two in the rotation) and has ample playoff experience (3-0 in two World Series). They also picked up Jeff Samardzija earlier this month, giving them a top 4 (we’re talking playoffs, so no fifth starter needed) of Lester, Gray, Samardzija, and Kazmir (L). That’s a combined 2014 ERA of 2.62, a WHIP of 1.108 and a K/BB of 3.53.

As for the Tigers, they also get a great lefty, but with less playoff experience and no ring. The Tigers ostensibly now have Verlander, Price, Scherzer, and Sanchez, with a combined ERA of 3.66, a WHIP of 1.189 and a K/BB of 3.78. And that gives them THE PAST THREE AL CY YOUNG WINNERS (yeah, that’s fair). But keep in mind, Verlander has been mortal this season. So in the playoffs, Detroit would have three options: (1) a Sparky Anderson-like trigger on Verlander if he pitches poorly, (2) replacing Verlander with Porcello, or (3) Going with the very formidable trio of Price-Scherzer-Sanchez (my choice). So that’s still a crazy strong playoff rotation on par with Oakland’s. So here are the differences.

First, the A’s are deeper in starting pitching, so they could pull a bad starter and go with their 5th (Chavez) and even 6th (Hammel) starter. Give the depth/crisis control nod to the A’s.

Second, the A’s have two strong lefties in their top four, which should help them the rest of the season. But if they face the Tigers in the playoffs, the lefties may not help. Detroit is among the MLB best against lefties – although losing Austin Jackson and his .330 AVG vs. lefties will hurt – so the A’s find themselves in the position of minimizing their lefties against the Tigers. Oh, and another team that kills lefties? The Angels (the A’s division rivals). A team that’s middling against lefties? The A’s (although giving up Yoenis Cespedes helps). Give the southpaw edge to the Tigers.

Lastly, the Tigers will likely walk through their division directly into the playoffs. The A’s, however, may not be able to shake the Angels, and there’s a real chance the A’s end up in that goofy one-game world card playoff, which would totally screw up their rotation order. Give the playoff position advantage to the Tigers.

On paper, the Tigers won the deadline, but keep this in mind: no matter how many starters the Tigers acquire, their bullpen is awful, and Detroit will demand more innings and better results out of its rotation than Oakland. Even if the Tiger’s starters better pitch as well as they do on paper, or the A’s will steal that series in the late innings. So for the Tigers, the Price will be wrong.

David Young has been a columnist for ESPN and Sports Illustrated and is now one for SportsGrid.com. Follow his Twitter @turkeysflying