10 Important Stories from 04/02/19 Box Scores: Is Zach Eflin A Must Buy, Mondesi’s Big Day (But Should We Sell) & More

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The hits just keep on coming for fantasy owners, with Trea Turner the latest star heading to the DL.  We don’t have an exact timeframe as of yet, but any absence (and it seems like he’ll be out at least a few weeks) is going to be a costly one since replacing his production is nearly impossible.

On the field Bryce Harper made an impact in his return to Washington, going 3-5 with 1 HR, 3 RBI and 1 R.  Blake Snell rebounded strong, tossing 7.0 shutout innings allowing 2 H and 1 BB while striking out 13 (behind a monstrous 25 swinging strikes).  It was a struggle for Justin Verlander, allowing 4 ER on 6 H and 3 BB, striking out 4, over 4.0 IP against the Rangers.  What else happened on the field that we should know?  Let’s take a look:

1) Does Anthony Desclafani belong on our radars…
There was a time that he was viewed as a viable fantasy asset, but as the injuries have mounted over the past few years he’s become a forgotten man.  He did his best to make us pay attention in his first start of ’19, shutting down the Brewers as he allowed 1 ER on 3 H and 3 BB, striking out 8, over 5.0 IP.  He had to settle for a no decision, as the bullpen couldn’t hold the lead, but that obviously shouldn’t detract from his strong outing.  Always the owner of strong control (2.37 BB/9 for his career), he showed an improved strikeout rate last season (8.45 K/9) and it’s possible he maintains it given his 13 swinging strikes (last year’s 9.4% SwStr% didn’t support it).  As long as he can avoid the long ball (3 groundballs vs. 4 fly balls) he’s going to be a viable option.

2) Is it time to believe in Zach Eflin…
He was dominant against the Nationals, bettering Max Scherzer (5.0 IP, 1 ER, 7 H, 1 BB, 9 K) en route to a W.  He only went 5.0 innings but he allowed 0 R on 3 H and 1 BB, striking out 9.  In 128.0 innings in the Majors last season Eflin posted a 4.36 ERA, but an 8.65 K/9 and 2.60 BB/9 gave a sense of optimism.  His 10.3% SwStr% was solid, and he had 13 swinging strikes last night.  The big concern was going to be his ability to keep the ball in the ballpark (41.2% groundball rate), and only generating 1 groundball yesterday isn’t going to help ease those concerns.  That will be something that needs to be watched closely, but at the very least he should be viewed as a solid matchup play.

3) Despite the loss, Marcus Stroman continues his rebound (maybe)…
Of course the offense behind him is arguably worse than Baltimore’s, his opponent on the evening, and that is likely going to cost him opportunity for W.  He still allowed 2 ER on 9 H and 1 BB, striking out 5, over 5.2 IP as he continued to generate groundball after groundball (6 groundballs vs. 3 fly balls).  Obviously we’d like to see fewer hits, and despite a 1.42 ERA he’s now allowed 11 H and 5 BB over 12.2 IP and his opponents have been among the worst in the AL (he faced the Tigers in his first start).  While he’s worth owning and could hold value, it’s impossible to get too excited off these two performances.

4) Kyle Freeland impresses, but also struggles, against Tampa Bay…
It was a mixed bag for Freeland, who was outpitched by Snell (no shame in that) and took the loss.  He did strike out 10 batters, which is a good thing, but he lasted just 4.2 IP as he was charged with 3 R (2 ER) on 3 H and 4 BB.  It was the exact opposite from his first start, when he went 7.0 IP and had 5 K vs. 1 BB, and the truth may be somewhere in the middle.  Last season he posted a 7.70 K/9 and 3.11 BB/9, with a 9.0% SwStr% obviously not screaming of an elite strikeout artist.  He did show more in the second half (8.41 K/9), but that still doesn’t suggest this type of performance.  Don’t get overly excited off the gaudy strikeout mark in this one.

5) Has Lewis Brinson figured something out…
He went 3-4 with 1 RBI yesterday, with one of the hits being a double.  Obviously it’s early, but he is hitting .273 over 22 AB to start the season.  Of course it’s come with 0 HR, 1 RBI, 2 R and 0 SB, so it’s easy to overlook the average as it’s been fairly “empty”.  Part of that is due to hitting towards the bottom of a weak lineup, and while he has kept the strikeouts in check (6) he also has yet to draw a walk.  Considering that he entered the day with a 16.7% SwStr% and 50.0% O-Swing% over his first five games this season, does anyone believe that he’s going to maintain the solid performance?  His approach at the plate remains a significant question, and for now the once highly touted prospect can safely be ignored.

6) George Springer fills the box score atop the Houston lineup…
He finished the day going 2-3 with 1 RBI, 1 R and 1 SB, giving him hits in five of his first six games and putting him at .304 with 2 HR, 5 RBI, 3 R and 1 SB.  Obviously there’s going to be value, but does that mean that there aren’t any red flags?  He does have multiple strikeouts in 50% of the games he’s played, hasn’t added another extra base hit and has only scored 1 R when it didn’t come courtesy of his home runs.  The last point could be more to do with the lineup behind him, and he also should be able to improve the strikeout rate as the AB mount.  We predicted in the offseason that he’d disappoint and don’t see him as the player he once was, but don’t expect him to completely disappear either.

7) Adalberto Mondesi shows off the good, and the bad…
He finished the night going 3-5 with 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 R and 1 SB.  The home run was of the inside-the-park variety, and was his first HR and SB of the season.  Of course he also had 2 K and has 5 K  vs. 0 BB over his first 17 AB on the season.  His approach is always going to be the big question, after he posted an 18.2% SwStr% and 37.1% O-Swing% last season.  There’s no questioning his speed and ability to chip in some power (he already has 2 doubles, 2 triples and 1 HR), but if he’s not making contact and getting on base how often will he be able to tap into those skills?  Enjoy it while you can, but don’t assume that he’s going to be able to maintain it.

8) Where are the swings and misses for Chris Sale…
Is it time to get concerned?  While the overall line is better than his first start (6.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 H, 2 BB), he managed just 1 K courtesy of 6 swinging strikes against the A’s.  Sure he had 12 swinging strikes in his first start, but he also got bombed by the Mariners (7 ER over 3.0 IP).  This obviously isn’t the type of start that anyone envisioned, and there are reports that his velocity was down significantly in this one.  While we aren’t pushing the panic button yet (the fact that Boston signed him to a big extension has to be considered), there is obvious concern building quickly.  We’ll have to watch him closely over his next few outings to see how he rebounds.

9) Hunter Renfroe shows why he belongs in the lineup…
He finished the day going 2-4 with 2 HR, 3 RBI and 2 R, getting back the home runs that Zack Greinke provided the Diamondbacks (he was better on the mound, with 10 K over 6.0 IP, but also went 2-4 with 2 HR, 4 RBI and 2 R at the plate).  As for Renfroe, he’s only had 11 AB on the season but this type of performance shows the power and impact that’s possible when he’s in the lineup.  With Franmil Reyes struggling at the start (.071 with 0 HR over 14 AB), don’t be surprised to see Renfroe quickly start to gain AB.  With his power that’s going to make him a most own if someone in your league got frustrated with the lack of playing time early.

10) Marco Gonzales nearly goes the distance…
Taking on the Angels he went 8.1 innings allowing 1 ER on 4 H and 1 BB, striking out 3, to improve to 3-0 with a 2.63 ERA.  Of course there are a few red flags coming out of this one, with just 2 swinging strikes being the biggest problem.  He now has a 6.5% SwStr% over these three starts, and even with great control how long will he be able to produce without strikeouts or an elite groundball rate (42.6%)?  The answer is likely not very long, so don’t get overly excited by his early season performance.

Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs

6 COMMENTS

    • It’s tough, because there’s a lot of upside in these names but also a lot of risk. I’d say I’d go:

      Burnes
      Eflin
      Paddack
      Woodruff
      Keller
      Smith
      Desclafani

      That said, it could easily change in 3-5 days

    • He was always going to be a nice bounce back candidate, so I’m not surprised by the strong start. Can definitely see him having a good year and maintaining it (though not a .333 AVG)

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