CINCINNATI — Jordan Lyles is heading back to the Milwaukee Brewers, who are desperate for starting pitching as they try to repeat as NL Central champions.
The Brewers acquired the right-hander from the Pittsburgh Pirates on Monday for pitching prospect Cody Ponce, giving them a familiar name in their injury-depleted rotation. Lyles has struggled since the end of May.
“I’m definitely looking forward to a change,” Lyles said during a conference call. “This last month hasn’t gone in my favor. I’ve pitched poorly. We got off to a really good start, hot start, and kind of faced after some injuries here and there.”
Lyles worked out of the bullpen for Milwaukee last fall, going 1-0 with a 3.31 ERA in 11 appearances for the Brewers while helping the club win the NL Central title. Lyles translated his success with Milwaukee into a one-year contract with the Pirates and earned a spot in the starting rotation out of spring training.
He won five of his first six decisions, and then fell into a deep slump. He had a 9.58 ERA in eight starts since the end of May, leaving him 5-7 overall with a 5.36 ERA.
“It was never for a lack of preparation or a lack of work,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “There’s still enough career in front of this guy to find out whether his niche is as a starter or whether his niche is in the bullpen.
“He gave us everything he had. Some days it was really good, some days it wasn’t as good.”
The Brewers were a game behind division co-leaders St. Louis and Chicago on Monday, but their rotation has been decimated in July. Milwaukee All-Star right-hander Brandon Woodruff went on the injured list with a strained left oblique and right-hander Jhoulys Chacin was sidelined by a strained muscle in his side. Left-hander Gio Gonzalez developed a tight shoulder in the seventh inning of his start Friday against the Cubs.
“I think every season takes its own twists and turns, and every season brings up unexpected situations and circumstances,” general manager David Stearns said. “Certainly, we went into the season with what we thought was a very deep pitching staff with numbers we thought could help us get through the rigors of a major league season.”
Lyles was scheduled to start Monday against the Reds in Cincinnati when he was dealt. Alex McRae (0-2, 7.71) was picked to take his place. Hurdle isn’t sure who will fill Lyles’ spot in the rotation long-term.
Pittsburgh could be involved in more deals as the Wednesday trade deadline approaches. The Pirates had lost eight straight and were 2-14 since the All-Star break, slipping behind the Reds into last place in the NL Central.
Ponce, a second-round pick in the 2015 draft, is 1-3 with one save, 44 strikeouts and a 3.29 ERA in 27 appearances at Double-A Biloxi this season.
Cardinals get Rosscup
LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Dodgers have traded left-hander Zac Rosscup to the St. Louis Cardinals for cash.
The Dodgers also put Enrique Hernández on the injured list with a sprained left hand Monday.
Rosscup is headed to his fourth team this season.
Rosscup finished last season with Los Angeles, but was designated for assignment in November. He signed with Seattle, but was designated for assignment May 17.
Toronto claimed Rosscup off waivers, but designated him for assignment May 28 after two appearances. He re-signed with the Dodgers last month and made seven appearances, but was designated for assignment two weeks ago.
Rosscup is 2-0 with a 5.00 ERA in 28 combined appearances this season. He likely will join the Cardinals’ Triple-A affiliate in Memphis.
Phillies add Vargas
NEW YORK — The Philadelphia Phillies bolstered their beleaguered rotation.
Left-hander Jason Vargas was acquired from the New York Mets on Monday for Double-A catcher Austin Bossart.
The 36-year-old Vargas is 6-5 with a 4.01 ERA, winning his last three starts. He became expendable when the Mets acquired right-hander Marcus Stroman from Toronto on Sunday night for a pair of pitching prospects.
Vargas could start Friday night against the Chicago White Sox on normal four days’ rest. Zach Eflin, who is scheduled to pitch that night, has a 10.46 ERA in his last six starts.
Vargas is owed $2,666,667 of his $8 million salary for the remainder of this season, and his contract includes an $8 million club option for 2020 with a $2 million buyout. He receives a $250,000 assignment bonus.
New York agreed to pay $666,667 to the Phillies to offset part of Vargas’ 2019 salary, with $333,333 payable Sept. 2 and $333,334 on Oct. 1, and $250,000 to offset the assignment bonus. In addition, the Mets will pay $2 million in 2020 to offset the salary or the buyout.
The Phillies were off Monday after losing two of three to the NL East-leading Braves and falling 7½ games behind. But they’re only one game back second the second NL wild card heading into a three-game series against San Francisco starting Tuesday.
Vargas’ ERA would be second to Aaron Nola on Philadelphia’s staff and his WHIP (1.27) would rank first. Opponents are batting just .228 against Vargas despite a fastball that averages just 85 mph.
Vargas is 98-95 with a 4.26 ERA in 266 starts and 21 relief appearances with five big league teams. He won 18 games for the Royals in 2017 and was part of their World Series championship team in 2015.
Vargas and Mets manager Mickey Callaway were fined by the team last month for their profanity-filled confrontation with a reporter following a loss to the Cubs at Wrigley Field.
The 26-year-old Bossart is hitting .195 with seven homers and 28 RBIs at Reading of the Eastern League. He was a 14th-round pick in the 2015 amateur draft from the University of Pennsylvania.