With trade speculation ramping up, the Los Angeles Dodgers are rumored to be looking for left-handed bullpen help, and reportedly have interest in Detroit Tigers closer Justin Wilson. The Dodgers currently have the best record in all of baseball, and are looking to win their first World Series since 1988. Wilson has been excellent for the Tigers all season, and a large number of his outings have come in the ninth inning after taking the closer role from Francisco Rodriguez in May.
This afternoon, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports tweeted that the Dodgers have shown interest in three lefties, including Baltimore Orioles elite closer Zach Britton, San Diego Padres All-Star Brad Hand, and Wilson. Heyman also assumes that the Dodgers have checked in on Sean Doolittle of the Athletics. Britton, coming off one of the best seasons for a reliever in recent history, has been on the disabled list for most of the year with a left-forearm strain, but could still command a rather costly trade package from L.A. Wilson, however, could prove a shrewd, under the radar pickup for the Dodgers if they aren’t willing to meet what will be lofty demands from the Orioles.
dodgers seeks to add lefty reliever. besides britton, they're interested in hand, wilson, presumably doolittle, others.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) July 13, 2017
Wilson’s bread and butter is a high-octane fastball that routinely reaches the upper-90s. While he has been reluctant to throw his breaking ball in certain situations, his cutter has proven to be a solid out pitch as well. Through 34 1⁄3 innings this season, he is striking out 12.84 batters per nine while walking 3.41 per nine. His 2.36 ERA is on pace to be the best of his career for a full season, and his FIP of 2.94 shows that he has not just been getting lucky.
Unlike many lefties coming out of the bullpen these days, Wilson has the ability to dominate hitters from both sides of the plate. The advanced numbers point to him having more success against lefties — including a 40.5 percent strikeout percentage, 8.1 percent walk rate, and 2.26 FIP — but his numbers against righties are still rather impressive (35.1 percent strikeout rate, 10.3 percent walk rate, 3.19 FIP).
The Dodgers have one of the top farm systems in the game, but it’s hard to imagine the Tigers being able to pry one of their top guys away just for Wilson. While lefties Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman were traded at last season’s trade deadline for unbelievable hauls, Justin Wilson isn’t in that tier of relief pitcher. Still, with as deep as the Dodgers farm system is, the potential for a deal that would benefit both teams is certainly there.