With many deals getting done at the MLB trade deadline this year, there were a few “under-the-radar” moves made that could actually have a significant impact for certain ballclubs, as identified by Keith Law of The Athletic (subscription required).
Among those moves included the Philadelphia Phillies’ acquisition of All-Star starting pitcher Michael Lorenzen from the Detroit Tigers. With many expecting the Phillies to add a potent, right-handed hitting outfielder at the deadline, they settled for some starting pitching depth instead. Lorenzen, who had signed a one-year, $8.5 million deal with the Tigers during the offseason after a respectable season with the Los Angeles Angels in 2022, has produced a career year so far in 2023, with a 3.58 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, giving up 42 earned runs, 27 walks and 83 strikeouts in 105.2 innings pitched, while becoming a first-time All-Star in the process.
His name may not be as flashy as a Scherzer or Verlander, but the addition of Lorenzen to the Phillies’ starting rotation could potentially have a huge impact for the ballclub, because behind Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler, and Taijuan Walker, Lorenzen could provide that reliability and steadiness in the back end of the rotation if either Cristopher Sánchez or Ranger Suárez were to falter, along with giving the Phillies a strong starting four if they reach the postseason. Sánchez has never pitched more than 75.2 innings in a season in his professional career (he is at 47.1 innings right now) and Suárez has struggled mightily during the month of July in which he went 0-3 with a 6.11 ERA, giving up 19 earned runs, 36 hits, 13 walks, and 23 strikeouts in just 28 innings of work. So the recruitment of Lorenzen couldn’t have come at a better time.
In giving up one of their top prospects in second baseman Hao-Yu Lee, the Phillies don’t lose out a great deal with the emergence of current major leaguer Bryson Stott, who appears to have a strong lock on the position for now and the near future for the ballclub. In addition, Lee is probably still a couple years away from making any potential impact at the major league level, along with a lack of bat speed and power to go with his good contact skills, so the Phillies could afford giving up on Lee to bring in a potentially underrated difference maker down the stretch in Lorenzen to help the ballclub reach the postseason once again in 2023.
On Thursday, Lorenzen made his first start with the Phillies and proved Law right, going eight innings of two-run ball, striking out five batters and walking one. It took the hurler only 101 pitches to make it this late into the ballgame, which is exactly what the club was hoping to see out of him when they traded for him. It was his first outing of eight or more innings since all the way back in May of 2022.