Corey Kluber earned his first win of the season, allowing 2 R (1 earned) on 7 H and 1 BB, striking out 8, over 6.0 IP to defeat the Tigers. The bigger story may have been that of struggling aces, and while there aren’t serious concerns about any of these pitchers (yet) these performances are frustrating all the same:
- Aaron Nola (vs. Washington) – 6.1 IP, 4 ER, 7 H, 1 BB, 3 K
- Stephen Strasburg (at Philadelphia) – 4.0 IP, 6 ER, 6 H, 4 BB, 3 K
- Jacob deGrom (vs. Minnesota) – 4.0 IP, 6 ER, 8 H, 1 BB, 3 K
What else happened on the field that we need to know about? Let’s take a look:
1) The concerns for
Chris Sale continue to grow…
You would have thought that the start against the Blue Jays, coming at home, would have been a get it right outing. Unfortunately it wasn’t to be, as he was ultimately tagged for 5 ER on 7 H and 0 BB, striking out 3, over 4.0 IP and being completely outpitched by Matt Shoemaker (5.2 IP, 2 ER, 5 H, 2 BB, 4 K, though he did allow 2 HR). As for Sale what is there left to say at this point? Through three starts he’s 0-3 with a 9.00 ERA and 1.54 WHIP, with 8 K and 4 HR allowed over 13.0 IP. There has been talk that the team has been dialing him back in an effort to keep him healthy, but if that’s the case they need to change things quickly. If it’s not? Then we need to be highly concerned. Obviously he’s too good to do anything dramatic, so at this point we just need to cross our fingers and hope he can turn things around.
2) Austin Meadows fills
the box score as he continues his breakout…
The Rays jumped on Ervin Santana (7 ER over 3.2 IP), with Meadows leading the charge. He went 4-5 with 1 HR, 4 RBI, 2 R and 1 SB, continuing his impressive start as he’s now hitting .308 with 3 HR, 10 RBI, 4 R and 2 SB. He does have 12 K over 39 AB and he entered the day with a 12.0% SwStr%, so that will be something we need to watch just in case. Obviously it’s not enough to steer us away, especially with the way he’s been attacking the baseball (52.2% Hard%) and therefore you don’t want to take away from his aggressiveness. We can’t ignore that risk, but he also had a 7.7% SwStr% over 191 PA in the Majors last season so there also is the chance that this is nothing more than a small sample size bloat. The breakout potential is for real and he should be viewed as a must own in all formats.
3) A dominant effort
from Luis Castillo…
With the Reds scoring 14 Reds (including the first home run from Jesse Winker) and the outing coming against the Marlins it would be easy to overlook Castillo’s performance. However when you throw 7.0 shutout innings allowing 2 H and 1 BB, striking out 8, that’s simply not fair. He got 21 swinging strikes in this one, giving him 53 over his first three starts (19.2 IP). That number alone tells you why he’s had a lot of success, with a 0.92 ERA and 0.66 WHIP. After issuing 7 BB in his first two starts he appeared to have solved that issue as well, to go along with the ability to generate groundballs (59.1% entering the day, 6 groundballs vs. 5 fly balls yesterday). Obviously there will be some stumbles along the way, but the breakout could fully be for real.
4) Jurickson Profar busts
out in a big way…
It’s been a slow start for Profar in Oakland, bringing back memories of once being dubbed a bust. Maybe going to Baltimore will help wake him up, and it did for at least one day, as he went 4-5 with 1 HR, 5 RBI and 3 R helping the A’s to 13 R and 14 H (Marcus Semien also chipped in a home run). Profar still carries an underwhelming .182/.224/.291 slash, but he hasn’t struggled with strikeouts (9 K over 55 AB) and he obviously is going to improve upon his .143 BABIP. There are better days ahead for Profar and this could easily just be the start. Stay the course and ultimately reap the rewards.
5) Victor Robles
continues to thrive at the bottom of the lineup…
He’s currently being used as the ninth hitter, operating as a second leadoff hitter, but how long will it be until he’s pushed further up in the lineup? He went 3-5 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 2 R yesterday, putting him at .324 with 3 HR, 6 RBI, 10 R and 1 SB. The HR came in the ninth inning, tying the game and helping propel the Nationals to victory. Strikeouts have been an issue in the early going, entering the day with a 32.4% strikeout rate courtesy of a 12.2% SwStr%. At the same time he hadn’t been straying outside the strike zone (23.9% O-Swing%), but with a 22.2% Hard% and 55.6% fly ball rate even if the strikeouts regress there’s a good chance that the production plummets. That’s not to call him a must sell by any stretch, but know the risks and what could lie in the future (we’ll take a closer look at him soon).
6) Mitch Garver
steals the spotlight…
In a game that 10 HR, including Peter Alonso continuing his impressive rookie campaign (2-5, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 2 R), it was Garver who may have posted the most attention grabbing line. Hitting fifth he went 4-5 with 2 HR, 2 RBI and 3 R, showing why he may deserve the role as the team’s starting catcher and why it’s tough to believe in Willians Astudillo (who was in there at first base yesterday, but where the full-time AB comes from remains a mystery). Garver hit .268 with 7 HR and 45 RBI over 302 AB last year, but having added 19 doubles and 2 triples it was easy to envision him improving on his power (8.0% HR/FB). Throw in a 40.5% Hard%, 7.8% SwStr% and 22.3% O-Swing% and a breakout seems very much for real. This type of performance could lead to more playing time and he could take full advantage.
7) Another subpar
showing for Jakob Junis…
He has received some hype, at times, but three starts in he now owns a 5.74 ERA and 1.60 WHIP. Last night against the Mariners led to his worst start of the year thus far, allowing 4 ER on 8 H and 1 BB, striking out 6, over 4.0 IP. He does have 20 K over 15.2 IP and it’s easy to argue that there’s been a little bit of poor luck involved (he entered the day with a .355 BABIP over his first two starts). Even last year he showed strong control (2.19 BB/9) and he’s been generating amply swings and misses (10.8% SwStr% over his first two starts, 15 swinging strikes last night). As long as he keeps the ball in the ballpark the potential is there for a breakout performance, maybe outside of wins, so kicking the tires and thinking about buying low may make a lot of sense.
8) Max Fried
surprisingly tames Coors Field…
He outpitched German Marquez (5.0 IP, 5 ER, 7 H, 0 BB, 2 K) as he tossed 6.0 strong innings allowing 1 R (0 earned) on 5 H and 1 BB, striking out 4, to improve to 2-0 and he’s yet to allow an earned run. He wasn’t generating swings and misses (only 9 swinging strikes) and that was also the case in his first start (he has 17 swinging strikes in 12.0 IP as a starter). It will be interesting to see if he can continue to succeed without that. Maybe it’s him just finding his footing or he’s sacrificed some of his strikeout potential for better control. That will be something worth watching, but he has the potential to put it all together (including being capable of generating a significant number of groundballs). The upside is there if he can stick in the rotation, so buying him now and seeing how things plays out is the prudent move.
9) A terrible
performance from Joey Lucchesi…
Taking on the Giants did anyone expect a poor performance from Lucchesi? That’s unfortunately exactly what we got, as he was torched for 7 ER on 7 H and 2 BB, striking out 4, over 4.0 IP. He had started the season strong, with 10.1 shutout innings including 5.1 against the Giants in his first start. Was it a little bit of familiarity? Including his starts last season he’s been primarily a two-pitch guy, throwing his fastball 62.8% of the time and his changeup 33.8% of the time. He had been working in a cutter over his first two starts (11.8%) and that would obviously go a long way in him developing. For now consider this one as nothing more as a bump in the road, regardless of how disappointing this one was.
10) Are we still
buying Freddy Peralta…
Both starters were atrocious in this one, with Peralta (3.1 IP, 7 ER, 8 H, 1 BB, 5 K) and Matt Harvey (4.1 IP, 6 ER, 7 H, 2 BB, 5 K) stinking up the joint. For Harvey it’s now been back-to-back poor outings (14 ER over 8.1 IP), but the bigger story may be Peralta who has received a bit of hype since earning a spot in the Brewers’ rotation. While there was one elite looking start mixed in (8.0 shutout innings against the Reds), he’s failed to get more than 10 outs in either of his other two starts. He’s allowed 3 HR between those two, and even during his dominant outing it was a surprise that he wasn’t burned by the long ball (13 fly balls vs. 0 groundballs). That’s going to loom large, especially pitching in Milwaukee, especially when coupled with control questions. It seems like a better chance that he pitches his way out of the rotation as opposed to him thriving, so those in redraft formats would be wise to move on.
Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs