Marcell Ozuna appears to be healthy once again, as he hit his 8th home run of the season yesterday (he finished the day going 1-4 with 1 HR, 1 RBI and 1 R). Carlos Carrasco showed why he should still be considered one of the elite, tossing 7.0 shutout innings allowing 3 H and 2 BB while striking out 12 (and generating an impressive 23 swinging strikes). Spencer Turnbull continues to show some value, allowing 1 R (0 earned) on 2 H and 2 BB, striking out 5, over 6.0 IP in a no decision against the Pirates. What else happened that we need to know about? Let’s take a look:
1) Is there value in
Zack Wheeler moving forward…
He was outpitched by Jake Arrieta yesterday (8.0 IP, 2 ER, 6 H, 2 BB, 3 K, W), but it was a solid outing for Wheeler. Pitching on the road he went 7.0 innings allowing 3 ER on 5 H and 3 BB, striking out 5. He made two big mistakes, allowing home runs to Cesar Hernandez (1-2, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R) and Scott Kingery (1-4, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R). Wheeler now owns a 6.35 ERA over 22.2 IP as he’s struggled with his command (14 BB, including 13 BB over his past 17.2 IP). He had struggled with his control prior to last season (BB/9 of 4.14, 3.84 and 4.17 over his first three seasons) and he’s never been an elite groundball pitcher (47.8% career groundball rate). He does have strikeout stuff, but how far can that take him alone? He needs to get his control right if he wants to have success, so for now consider him more of a streaming option (and stashing him on your bench) until he shows us otherwise.
2) Is it time to pull
the plug on Corbin Burnes…
There’s potential value, but after allowing 5 ER on 9 H and 2 BB, striking out 3, over 3.1 IP he is now the owner of a 10.70 ERA and 2.15 WHIP over 17.2 IP. His 8 BB isn’t ideal, but he’s clearly been hittable (30 H allowed) and has now allowed 11 HR over four starts. It’s possible the recent injury to Freddy Peralta buys Burnes a little bit more time, but even that may be a stretch. The fact is that the Brewers can’t afford to throw away games, and that’s what it seems like they are doing when they send Burnes out there every five days. Either a shift to the bullpen or a demotion to Triple-A appears to be likely, and while it wouldn’t be surprising to see him return to the rotation at some point in ’19 let’s not forget that he pitched well in 30 appearances coming out of the bullpen in ’18 (2.61 ERA and 1.00 WHIP). With Corey Knebel lost for the season, could a transition back to that role be the best solution for all involved? Monitor the news, but those in redraft formats should be moving on.
3) Has Hunter Dozier
finally figured things out…
He was hitting third for the Royals yesterday, going 2-4 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 1 R. He’s now hitting .298 with 5 HR and 10 RBI over 57 AB, and even more important may be his 12 K vs. 8 BB thus far. After posting a 13.0% SwStr% and 35.6% O-Swing% in the Majors last season, he has improved dramatically and was carrying marks of 7.7% and 23.2%, respectively. The question is has he truly figured it out, unlocking his potential? It’s interesting that opposing pitchers are attacking him the same way, but can we really buy into his 0.00% Whiff% against offspeed pitches (14.05% last season). A regression seems to be inevitable, but with his improved O-Swing% and continuing to post impressive Hard% (41.9% this season, 44.9% last season) there’s reason for optimism. There’s always been some potential value, and buying him now and seeing if he can continue down this path is well worth the risk.
4) Walker Buehler
finally shows off his ace stuff…
It’s been a slow start for Buehler, but part of his struggles may have been how conservative the Dodgers were with him during Spring Training. He showed just how good he is though yesterday, dominating the Reds as he allowed 1 R (0 earned) on 3 H and 1 BB, striking out 8, over 6.1 IP. Obviously this is a welcome sight after he had allowed 5 ER in two of his first three starts and entered the day with just 9 K over 12.0 IP. We all know just how good he can be, and hopefully this start is the springboard to send him back towards the production he provided upon arriving last season. Keep him fired up in all formats.
5) The matchup
between Nathan Eovaldi and JA Happ produced interesting results…
Obviously we aren’t about to call it a pitchers duel, but the matchup gave us some hope for one pitcher and the other appears to have lost most of their relevance:
- Nathan Eovaldi – 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 H, 1 BB, 6 K
- JA Happ – 6.1 IP, 3 ER, 6 H, 1 BB, 4 K
For Eovaldi it’s a promising start, despite generating just 10 swinging strikes. That’s been the biggest difference from a year ago, as both his SwStr% (10.7% to 8.0% entering the day) and O-Swing% (33.9% to 23.7%) have both taken a significant step backwards. Without an improvement the struggles could easily continue. As for Happ he allowed two more home runs, putting him at 6 HR over 18.2 IP over his first four starts (this is the first time he’s gone more than 4.1 innings in a start). He’s never been a groundball machine (40.1% for his career), and pitching in the AL East is it a surprise that it’s been a struggle? While he shouldn’t be this bad, he is a hands off proposition for now.
6) Does Erik Swanson
belong on our radars…
He fell short of matching Carlos Carrasco, but not by much. He made one mistake (a home run to Jake Bauers, who went 2-3 with 1 HR, 1 RBI and 1 R) and that ultimately cost him. Going 6.0 innings Swanson allowed 1 ER on 2 H and 0 BB, striking out 5. Last season at Triple-A he showed both strikeouts (9.71 K/9) and control (1.74 BB/9) over 72.1 IP, with the big concern coming from the risk of home run issues (36.4% groundball rate). We saw that come into play yesterday, including generating 5 groundballs vs. 8 fly balls, and that’s going to be the biggest risk and will ultimately limit his value. That’s not to say that he can’t be used, but he’s more of a plug and play as opposed to an option you want to trust every time he takes the mound.
7) Is Steven Duggar a
player worth grabbing…
He went 2-5 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 1 R yesterday giving him home runs in back-to-back games and 2 H in four of his past five. This streak has helped him raise his average from .208 to a more reasonable .247, to go along with 3 HR, 10 RBI, 8 R and 1 SB. Of course he also has 25 K vs. 2 BB over 77 AB, a ratio that simply is unacceptable. It’s not that he’s chasing outside of the strike zone, having entered the day with a 26.5% O-Swing%, but a 13.0% SwStr% after posting a 28.9% strikeout rate at Triple-A in ’18 is going to raise significant red flags. He’s showing a willingness to go the other way enough (26.0%) and he’s hitting the ball exceptionally hard (42.0%), so if he can figure out the strikeouts the value is going to be there. In deeper formats that makes him worth monitoring as he could produce at least a 10/10 season (and likely more).
8) Has Yandy Diaz
truly figured things out or are we selling hight…
There was a lot of hype after the trade from Cleveland to Tampa Bay and through 16 games he’s helping to back it up. He went 2-4 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 1 R yesterday (joining Brandon Lowe and Ji-Man Choi providing some thump and hitting home runs), putting him at .271 with 4 HR and 8 RBI on the season. The most impressive numbers come from his approach, as he has walked (11) more than he’s struck out (10). The approach was never a question (18.2% O-Swing% in the Majors), though a 10.3% SwStr% entering the day as he’s seeing fewer fastballs (47.8%) does indicate that there could be a regression. That’s not enough of a deterrent of course, unless he continues his pull heavy approach (19.6% Oppo%) along with his groundball-centric approach (56.5%). There’s value and appeal, but enough red flags that make him a potential sell high candidate.
9) Is it time to give
up Trent Thornton…
He made some waves early in the season, but he’s now had back-to-back poor outings. Taking on the Twins he allowed 4 ER on 6 H and 3 BB, striking out 3, over 4.2 IP and has now allowed 9 ER over his past 7.2 IP. At least he didn’t allow a home run in this one, right? Of course he wasn’t missing many bats (6 swinging strikes) and he was allowing more fly balls than groundballs (4 groundballs vs. 6 fly balls). Pitching in the AL East those types of numbers simply aren’t going to get it done on a regular basis. If you want to keep him on your radar as a potential streaming option than sure, but don’t consider him anything more than that.
10) Another strong showing for Frankie Montas, but are we buying…
Taking on the Astros he allowed 1 ER on 3 H and 2 BB, striking out 6, over 6.1 IP to improve to 3-1 with a 2.70 ERA and 0.94 WHIP over 23.1 IP. Obviously there’s a regression coming, as he entered the day with a .205 BABIP and 96.8% strand rate, and it’s also questionable as to whether or not he’ll be able to generate enough strikeouts (he entered with a 9.5% SwStr% and generated just 10 swinging strikes yesterday). Those are two keys that can’t be ignored, despite the impressive start to the season. Throw in a 43.8% Hard% and it’s easy to declare him a pitcher not worth trusting. Now isn’t even the time to buy in because a blow up is coming before long.
Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs