Atlanta Braves – LHP Kyle Muller
The Atlanta Braves are looking to defend their World Series title and have the third-best record in the National League. The only problem? Their division rival, the New York Mets, have the second-best record in the NL.
Last year, they got strong seasons from the likes of Charlie Morton, Max Fried, Ian Anderson, and Huascar Ynoa. Although Fried has continued to dominate and Kyle Wright has broken out as a top-of-the-line starter, Morton has turned things around, but Anderson has struggled all season. Huascar Ynoa was optioned after two starts where he gave up ten total runs, though Spencer Strider has helped mitigate much of the rotation’s issues as he looks like a Rookie of the Year candidate.
The Braves still need another pitcher, and that pitcher could be Quintana. If the Braves ask about Quintana, the Pittsburgh Pirates should ask about Kyle Muller. Muller was the Braves’ second-round pick in 2016. He’s a bit older at 24 years old, but he’s still a very talented pitcher. He’s an MLB-ready arm who could slot into the major league rotation right now.
Muller has pitched well at Triple-A, pitching to the tune of a 2.99 ERA, 3.57 FIP, and 1.09 WHIP in 81.1 innings. Muller has always been a high strikeout pitcher, and he’s only gotten better this year. He has a 31.6% K-rate for the Braves’ Triple-A affiliate. There have been issues about his control in the past, but he is also putting up a career-best walk rate of 7.7% rate. Muller has a sub-20% line-drive rate and a healthy 45.7% ground ball rate. With that good of a ground ball rate, he’ll likely decrease his 1.00 HR/9 rate.
Muller is a hard-throwing lefty, averaging out in the mid-90s with his fastball. When he wants to, he can flingh his four-seamer through the zone at 98 MPH. But he’s not just a one-pitch pitcher. Muller also throws a mid-to-upper-80s power slider and a low-80s curveball. Both his breaking pitches are distinct, not only in velocity but also in movement. His change-up isn’t a power pitch like his fastball, slider, or curveball, but it’s still a very usable offering. There are questions about his command, but as we talked about earlier, he’s made noticeable progress.
The southpaw has pitched in the majors already, but only briefly. He has just 39.1 innings under his belt. At 24 years old and performing well at Triple-A, Muller would be the kind of guy I would like to see the Pirates try and get in a trade involving Quintana: a talented arm that can make an impact now.