In acquiring Kevin Slowey today from the Colorado Rockies, the Cleveland Indians invested in a decent buy-low, bounce-back candidate to replace Fausto Carmona in their rotation.
Slowey certainly did not impress anyone with his unsightly 6.67 ERA last year, but in actuality he did not pitch that poorly. Factoring in his 4.47 FIP, 4.36 xFIP and 4.30 SIERA, it looks as if he was a victim of some bad luck last year.
Taking into account his entire career, Slowey looks much better. Here are his stats averaged out to a 200-inning season:
15-11 W-L, 4.66 ERA (90 ERA+), 4.24 FIP, 4.19 xFIP, 4.09 SIERA, 6.67 SO/9, 1.42 BB/9, 4.70 SO:BB, 31.6 GB%, 2.7 fWAR
He's certainly not on the same level as Justin Masterson or Ubaldo Jimenez, but Slowey looks pretty similar to another fly-ball starting pitcher: Josh Tomlin. Check out his career stats averaged out to a 200-inning season:
15-9 W-L, 4.34 ERA (91 ERA+), 4.37 FIP, 4.26 xFIP, 4.39 SIERA, 4.98 SO/9, 1.51 BB/9, 3.30 SO:BB, 35.3 GB%, 2.0 fWAR
Overall, the Tribe's rotation doesn't change that much going from Carmona (who owns a 2.3 average fWAR, for what it's worth) to Slowey. Essentially, in some ways, they acquired another Tomlin. While I'm not huge on Tomlin (I think he's a fourth starter at best), this rotation remains solid.
No one said you have to have the Philadelphia Phillies' rotation to win the World Series. The World Champion St. Louis Cardinals only had a 12.9 fWAR from their starting rotation. For reference, the Indians' starters totaled a 12.2 fWAR last year. And that's with only a mediocre partial-season from Jimenez.
I'm not sold on Slowey being much better than Jeanmar Gomez, David Huff or Zach McAllister, but I do love the buy-low aspect of Slowey. Since the Indians will only be paying him $1.5 million, he won't cost much more than Gomez, Huff or McAllister would anyway. Plus, since Slowey will be paid $5.5 million less than the Indians were going to pay Carmona, that's more money the front office will have to spend on a bat.
I don't necessarily like losing Zach Putnam in this particular trade or the idea of relying upon him for significant contributions, but it could easily work out. The Indians replaced one bounce-back candidate in Carmona with another in Slowey.
Today's trade definitely wasn't a game-changer, but there's a decent chance that they won't regret it. While that's not what Indians fans are looking for, these kind of moves can add up to great things. If Derek Lowe, Slowey and Jimenez even just fulfill the moderate end of their projections, it could (at the very least) help the Indians win the AL Central.