10 Important Stories from 04/16/19 Box Scores: Buy Low Opportunities (Strasburg & Flaherty), Are We Buying These Youngsters (Fried & Verdugo) & More

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The concerns for Chris Sale continued to grow as he was tagged for 4 ER on 7 H and 1 BB, striking out 6, over 5.0 IP against the Yankees.  Yoan Moncada continued his breakout campaign, going 2-4 with 2 HR, 2 RBI and 2 R (he’s now hitting .333 with 5 HR and 16 RBI).  It was yet another big day for Christian Yelich, who went 2-5 with 1 HR, 3 RBI and 1 R (he’s now hitting .357 with 9 HR and 25 RBI).  What else happened on the field that we need to know about?  Let’s take a look:

1) James Paxton dominates in his first taste of the Yankees/Red Sox rivalry…
Talk about making a name for himself, Paxton was dominant against Boston as he tossed 8.0 shutout innings.  He gave up just 2 H and 1 BB while striking out 12 (with 20 swinging strikes behind it).  For the Yankees it was a welcome sign, especially after allowing 9 ER over his previous two starts (and failing to go past 5.2 innings in each of his first three starts).  Talent has never been the question, that’s been more about his ability to stay healthy, though he does continue to see his groundball rate regress.  He’s gone from 48.1% in ’16 to 44.9% to 39.6%.  Even worse he entered the day at 35.7% before getting 5 groundballs vs. 8 fly balls yesterday.  That could lead to home run issues, especially pitching in Yankee Stadium, so that will be something to monitor.  Of course he always has the potential to put up a start like this, so the risk is well worth it.

2) Is it time to be concerned with Stephen Strasburg…
The Giants are supposed to be an easy matchup, but Strasburg was tagged for 3 HR and finished allowing 4 ER on 6 H and 0 BB, striking out 8, over 6.0 IP.  He’s now allowed at least 4 ER in three of his four starts, including 5 HR over his past two.  Of course even yesterday he generated 7 groundballs vs. 3 fly balls (he entered the day with a 52.2% groundball rate), so it looks like the home run issues are nothing more than an aberration.  With 28 K vs. 7 BB over 22.2 IP the other skills also appear to be there.  In other words he’s looking like an ideal buy low candidate, despite the disappointing 5.56 ERA and 1.28 WHIP, so kick the tires and see what the cost is.  As long as he’s healthy the results will be there.

3) A pitiful performance from Steven Matz…
It was as horrific of a start as was possible, as he failed to record a single out.  Part of that was due to poor defense behind him, but he was still tagged for 8 R (6 earned) on 4 H and 1 BB, including allowing a pair of home runs as Maikel Franco (1-5, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 R) and Scott Kingery (3-4, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 2 R) took him deep.  Matz entered the day with a 1.65 ERA and 1.04 WHIP, though his early season strikeout success seemed unsustainable (9.7% SwStr%).  He also has a history of home run issues (HR/9 of 1.62 and 1.46 the previous two seasons), so seeing that come into play also shouldn’t come as a complete surprise.  Obviously he’s not going to be this bad moving forward, but he also isn’t as good as he looked in his first three starts.  The truth lies in the middle, and while there’s value in that keep things in perspective and know the risks.

4) Does Asivail Garcia finally deserve our attention…
He filled the box score yesterday, going 2-4 with 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 R and 1 SB (and taking Dylan Bundy deep, who had a good start but shouldn’t excite you, allowing 3 ER on 3 H and 2 BB, striking out 5, over 5.0 IP).  Garcia is now hitting .327 with 2 HR, 7 RBI, 7 R and 2 SB over 55 AB.  They obviously aren’t mind blowing numbers, but they are solid and hold value.  Of course he also has drawn just 3 BB, entered the day with an unsustainable .417 BABIP and is likely going to struggle with strikeouts moving forward (he entered the day with a 20.6% SwStr% and 43.0% O-Swing%).  Is he worth using as a short-term plug-in while he’s going well?  Absolutely, but he’s not going to maintain this production and there are likely going to be tough days ahead (remember he hit just .236 a year ago).  Sell high and move on if you can.

5) Did Max Fried do enough to stick in the rotation…
He clearly outpitched Robbie Ray (6.0 IP, 5 ER, 7 H, 4 BB, 4 K), who continues to struggle with his control.  As for Fried, while he settled for a no decision it was a solid performance allowing 2 ER on 7 H and 1 BB, striking out 3, over 6.0 IP.  He generated just 10 swinging strikes, something he’s struggled to generate thus far this season (8.9% SwStr% entering the day).  We’d expect that to ultimately be there (think about him as a strikeout per inning option), with the bigger issue may be his history of control issues.  If he has truly solved that (4 BB over 19.2 IP), given his groundball stuff he’s going to have success.  The Braves have a slew of options for the rotation and it’s possible Fried doesn’t stick for long, but there’s more than enough upside to grab him (if he’s available) and see what he can do.  That said be prepared to move on if there are some struggles.

6) Were we all wrong on Jack Flaherty…
He lasted just 2.2 IP against the Brewers, allowing 5 ER on 9 H and 1 BB, striking out 4, as they took him deep twice and now owns a 5.00 ERA and 1.61 WHIP.  Of course it’s his second poor start out of four, and both have come against the Brewers (9 ER over 7.0 IP against Milwaukee, 1 ER over 11.0 IP in his other two starts).  He faced Milwaukee four times last year, so you have to wonder if there’s a familiarity there that is helping to cause problems.  While it’s been a frustrating start he’s obviously still showing enough to warrant utilizing him in all formats.  While it would be surprising if another owner has lost hope, it’s worth kicking the tires to see if an opportunity to buy low presents itself.

7) A dominant outing from Mike Minor against the Angels…
This wasn’t a depleted Los Angeles lineup without Mike Trout (1-4) either, but they showed little resistance against Minor.  He tossed a complete game shutout allowing 3 H and 2 BB, striking out 7, to improve to 2-1 with a 2.60 ERA and 0.94 WHIP over 27.2 IP on the season.  Of course when you look at the 13 fly balls vs. 5 groundballs and it’s easy to see fears of home run issues (he allowed 2 HR in his last start against the Diamondbacks).  Couple that with a relative lack of strikeout stuff (career 7.96 K/9) and while there is going to be some value there also are going to be some bumps along the way.  He’s worth utilizing and there definitely is some upside, but also know that the value is limited. 

8) Could Alex Verdugo emerge as a viable option…
He went 3-4 with 3 RBI yesterday, putting him at .375 with 3 HR and 12 RBI over 40 AB.  Of course he’s been relegated to a complete platoon, with just 5 AB against southpaws this season, and he has never shown much power potential coming up through the minors (11 HR in 420 AB between Triple-A and the Majors last season).  He has shown a strong approach, entering the day with a 6.0% SwStr% and 26.0% O-Swing%, but is that going to be enough?  He’s not going to play every day, he’s not going to be able to maintain his early season power surge (he’s benefited from a 30.0% HR/FB and 48.4% Hard% entering the day) and he also doesn’t offer much speed (14 SB is his career high).  It’s easy to get caught up with his perceived upside, but there isn’t much to get excited about.

9) The breakout of Shane Bieber continued…
He improved to 2-0 with a 1.71 ERA as he allowed 1 ER on 4 H and 3 BB, striking out 5, over 6.0 IP.  Control is his strongest skill so it’s a little bit of a surprise that he walked three, but in his four starts (21.0 IP) he now owns 22 K vs. 6 BB on the season.  Obviously he will likely hit a few bumps along the way (he’s only allowed 11 H thus far, and entered play with a .176 BABIP) and there could be a few home runs allowed (he had a 1.06 HR/9 last season, but has allowed just 1 HR thus far).  That said there’s little doubt that he’s quickly emerging as one of the better starters in the league.  There’s going to be some bumps, there almost has to be, but continue to roll him out there and ultimately reap the rewards.  While he wasn’t viewed as an elite strikeout artist, he entered the day with a 16.0% SwStr% and should continue to produce there as well.

10) Are we fully buying into the Matt Boyd breakout…
Taking on the Pirates he was solid yet again, though he had to settle for a no decision as Joe Musgrove (7.0 IP, 2 ER, 6 H, 1 BB, 6 K) was his equal.  Boyd went 7.0 innings allowing 3 ER on 6 H and 1 BB, striking out 7.  He was generating swings and misses (15) and groundballs (10 groundballs vs. 4 fly balls), though can we believe in both indefinitely?  He now owns a 16.0% SwStr%, which would put him among the elite, and he’s certainly not a groundball artist (34.4% for his career).  Maybe he has improved his strikeout stuff (think of him more like a 9.00 K/9) and he does have control, but home runs will likely be an issue and that could ultimately cost him.  While there’s value, there also will likely be a significant regression (and wins are going to be tough to come by). 

Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs, CBS Sports

14 COMMENTS

    • It really depends on the format (especially for the Iglesias/Dominguez drop). I’m not a Devers fan, but should be able to trade him for more than Profar

      • Yeah, I grabbed him on a flier. Just hit his second home run in 3 days. We’ll see.

        At the least, he’s now batting 3rd/4th in a division with a bunch of bad pitching.

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