Kyle Gibson & Ian Kennedy Traded to Phillies: How Move Affects Philadelphia’s Odds, Predictions

Kyle Gibson & Ian Kennedy Traded to Phillies: How Move Affects Philadelphia’s Odds, Predictions article feature image
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Carmen Mandato/Getty Images. Pictured: Kyle Gibson.

The Texas Rangers have traded starter Kyle Gibson and reliever Ian Kennedy to the Philadelphia Phillies, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reported on Friday.

Philadelphia entered play on MLB Trade Deadline day 3.5 games back from the New York Mets in the National League East, with pitching proving to be their downfall so far this season.

The Phillies’ team ERA entered the day ranked 19th in MLB at 4.47, and they had allowed the most runs of any team in the division (484).

Gibson is having by far the best season in his career and had as low as a 1.96 ERA earlier in July, although a couple shaky starts have that at 2.87 as of Friday afternoon. He made his first All-Star appearance this season and is 6-3 on the year.

The 33-year-old has one more year of team control remaining at a $7 million salary in 2022.

Kennedy is in his third year as a full-time reliever and is thriving with a 2.51 ERA through 32 appearances over 32 1/3 innings. He’ll undoubtedly boost a lackluster Phillies bullpen.

Prior to the trade, the Phillies were +400 to win the NL East and +2500 to win the National League on BetMGM and FanDuel; +350 to win the division and +3000 to win the NL at PointsBet; and +475 to win the NL East and +2800 to win the pennant at DraftKings.

The Mets were -270 favorites to win the NL East at FanDuel, -310 favorites at DraftKings and -275 favorites at PointsBet.

New York was also +500 at FanDuel, +450 at DraftKings, +500 at PointsBet and +475 at BetMGM to win the National League pennant prior to trade deadline day.

If those lines change as a result of this trade — or the Mets’ trade for Javier Baez — The Action Network will update this story.

The Rangers, meanwhile, have virtually no path to the postseason. They entered Friday with a 36-66 record. They have a 0.0% chance to win the division or make the playoffs, according to FanGraphs. Texas has no plans to compete in the next few years.

The Phillies will send right-handed pitcher Spencer Howard and two other prospects to Arlington as a part of the deal. Howard had been 27th best prospect according to Baseball America prior to the season.

Gibson had spent the first seven years of his career with the Minnesota Twins, who drafted him in the first round of the 2011 MLB Draft. He signed a three-year contract with the Rangers in 2019.

Sean Zerillo’s Analysis

Acquiring both Kyle Gibson and Ian Kennedy improves the Phillies by 1.3 wins in my “True Talent” power rankings, up from 85.6 to 86.9 wins if the season restarted tomorrow.

However, I’m pretty high on Spencer Howard long-term. I think sacrificing five additional years of team control over Howard is not worth the risk of acquiring the two veteran pitchers, considering the Phillies have a remote chance of making the playoffs.

FanGraphs currently gives the Phillies a 20.3% chance of making the postseason and an 18.2% chance of winning the NL East. PECOTA places those odds closer 21% and 18%, respectively.

Howard projects for a FIP between 4.24 and 4.48 for the remainder of the 2021 season, for 25-32 innings pitched.

Gibson doesn’t represent a substantial improvement, clocking in between 4.28-4.53 for a 55-71 inning sample. His 2.87 ERA is due to regress towards his expected metrics (3.69 xERA, 4.15 xFIP, 4.46 SIERA).

Kennedy has been terrific out of the bullpen (3.25 xERA, 3.80 xFIP, 3.26 SIERA), but 92.6% stand rate should also regress towards his career figure (74.2%).

BJ Cunningham’s Analysis

Kyle Gibson sures up the fourth spot in the Phillies’ rotation and replaces a regressing Spencer Howard. Now, while Gibson is having a tremendous season, these are his best numbers since 2014:

  • xERA: 3.69
  • xFIP: 4.15
  • K/9 rate: 7.98
  • BB/9 rate: 3.47
  • HR/9 rate: 0.72

Gibson’s biggest improvement has been on his two main off-speed pitches of curveball and changeup, which are both allowing a wOBA under .220, and he has allowed a total of 23 hits on those two pitches.

The rest of the NL East really struggles against slider, and with the Nationals trading away some of their best hitters, none of the teams in the division are even in the top 10 in wOBA against right-handed pitching.

Gibson is an upgrade in the short term over a struggling Howard and will give the Phillies a slightly better chance at winning the NL East.

Ian Kennedy is in the same camp as Gibson, as he is also having the best season of his career with an xERA and xFIP below four. He’s 16 for 17 in save opportunities for the Rangers, which will be a much-needed boost for a Phillies bullpen that has blown the most saves in Major League Baseball.

I would assume he would take over that closer role and if he continues on his current pace the Phillies could very quickly catch the Mets in the East.

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