Ted Lilly Could Be More Valuable Than You Think

To say Ted Lilly has been a revelation as a Dodger is a bit of an understatement; not only has he allowed just 4 runs in 28 innings since arriving, winning each of his 4 starts, but his two-hit shutout of Colorado last night registered the highest Game Score for a Dodger since Chan Ho Park did the same against Milwaukee in July of 2001.

He’s been about a thousand times more effective than even the most optimistic among us would have ever hoped for, and for that he’s to be commended. Now if you remember, when he was acquired, I didn’t like the trade. It wasn’t that I didn’t like Lilly, who I acknowledged was an upgrade to the rotation, but that the the rotation wasn’t the problem as much as the offense was, and that the Dodgers weren’t good enough this year to be trading the future for 2010 anyway.

That hasn’t changed; if anything they’ve fallen further out of contention and the offense has gotten worse as Rafael Furcal & Russell Martin have been injured and Blake DeWitt was swapped for Ryan Theriot. The only thing that really has changed for the better is that Lilly has looked like a completely different pitcher since arriving in Los Angeles.

Think about it – Lilly’s good, and has been for a long time, but he’s not this good. His BABIP as a Dodger is just .138, and that’s not going to last forever. If he keeps this up for the rest of the season, that’s great, but it’s not going to put the Dodgers in the playoffs and it’s only going to price him out of their league should they wish to retain him in the offseason. Much more likely, he is at the absolute peak of his value right now, because with the performance he’s shown, there’s really nowhere to go but down.

As Jesse Spector of the New York Daily News said after last night’s win:

Ted Lilly would be the best acquisition of the trade deadline had he gone to an actual contender.

And he’s right. But who says it’s too late? Pitching the way he has, wouldn’t St. Louis love to slot him behind Chris Carpenter & Adam Wainwright, as rookie phenom Jaime Garcia is beginning to show signs of wear? Would San Diego not be interested in adding a veteran arm alongside Jon Garland to protect against concerns of young ace Mat Latos overextending himself? With the August waiver rules, it’s unlikely that he’d get to the top of the American League, but even the Yankees are having some issues in the rotation with Andy Pettitte injured and A.J. Burnett inconsistent at best.

The point is, Ted Lilly‘s been awesome for the Dodgers, and there’s two ways to extract value from him for the remainder of the season; let him make 6-7 more starts for LA and help you finish 7 games out, or let him go to the playoffs with another team and possibly bring back prospects, while finishing 10 games out.

I know which route I’d take.

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  2. [...] Otherwise? Ted Lilly got bombed, and I can’t think of a single reason why anyone should be surprised that after his stellar first four starts, he’s got a 7.09 ERA and a 1.020 OPS against (and eight homers!) in the ensuing five. Did anyone really think he was going to keep up that performance? Of course not. [...]

  3. [...] in 28 innings over his first four starts. There was absolutely no way he was going to keep that up, as I noted at the time, and he didn’t. He’s got a 6.91 ERA over his last five starts, allowing eight homers, [...]

  4. [...] his Dodger career by being amazing for a month, but as the team fell further out of contention, I thought there was a better way he could contribute, by swapping him to a contender: He’s been about a thousand times more effective than even the most optimistic among us would [...]