10 Important Stories from 04/19/19 Box Scores: A Pair Of Buy Low Starting Pitchers, Is Caleb Smith For Real, Tatis Jr. Breakout & More

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The breakout of Yoan Moncada continued, as he went 2-4 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 2 R (he’s now hitting .321 with 6 HR and 18 RBI on the season).  It was a dominant outing from Justin Verlander, who allowed 1 ER on 3 H and 3 BB, striking out 8, over 7.0 IP to defeat the Rangers and improve to 3-0 on the season.  Pete Alonso showed off his power once again, going 2-4 with 1 HR, 1 RBI and 2 R (he now has 7 HR and 18 RBI on the season).  What else happened on the field that we need to know about?  Let’s take a look:

1) A dominant Kyle Hendricks posts surprising strikeout total…
Taking on the Diamondbacks he tossed 7.0 shutout innings allowing 3 H and 2 BB.  The most impressive number was his 11 K, though how believable was it?  He induced just 10 swinging strikes and entered the day with 10 K over his first 13.1 IP, neither of which supports this type of performance.  Considering his 7.28 K/9 last season and 7.3% SwStr% entering the day and it’s pretty obvious that this was an aberration and nothing more.  He did at least show more groundballs yesterday (6 groundballs vs. 3 fly balls) and improved control, which will help keep him productive.  It is great for those who used him, and he does deserve to be used, but don’t start to think that gaudy strikeout totals will become the norm.

2) Maybe now it’s time to give up on Jakob Junis…
It was another poor outing, this time coming against the Yankees, as he allowed 5 R (4 earned) on 6 H and 2 BB, striking out 2, over 5.1 IP.  He was generating groundballs (9 groundballs vs. 4 fly balls), but that appears to be the only thing that was working in his favor.  He did allow 2 HR, though that appears to be a little bit of an aberration, but more important was his meager 4 swinging strikes.  That tells you that he simply wasn’t fooling anyone, and while he’s been better than that in general this season (10.9% SwStr% entering the game) it also shouldn’t be surprising that his strikeout rate is likely to take a step backwards (9.82 K/9 entering the day).  Are any of these “issues” severe enough to cut bait and move on, though?  He showed last season enough strikeouts, he continues to show solid control (2.24 BB/9 for his MLB career) and an ability to generate enough groundballs (47.1% entering the day).  There’s been a lot of bad luck behind the numbers (.385 BABIP, 63.8% strand rate entering the day), so don’t completely give up on him.  While we don’t want him on our active roster, stashing him makes sense.

3) Eduardo Rodriguez fails to impress once again…
While he settled for a no decision, it clearly wasn’t a particularly strong outing for Rodriguez.  Taking on the Rays he allowed 4 R (3 earned) on 7 H and 1 BB, striking out 6, over 5.1 IP.  The big blow came courtesy of a Brandon Lowe HR (he finished 1-4 with 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R), and Rodriguez has now allowed 1 HR in each of his four starts.  That helps to make sense of his 7.20 ERA and 1.65 WHIP, and that was always the biggest concern entering the season (37.4% career groundball rate).  That said he should be better than this, especially with his solid control and ability to miss bats (he had 16 swinging strikes yesterday).  Entering the day he had managed to generally avoid hard contact (31.3% Hard%), telling you that it’s a lock his .356 BABIP and 52.9% strand rate would eventually improve.  Yesterday’s bump just further devalues him in the eyes of his owner, making now the perfect time to go out and buy.

4) An impressive outing from Caleb Smith…
He outpitched Anibal Sanchez (5.1 IP, 3 ER, 5 H, 4 BB, 6 K) to defeat the Nationals.  Going 6.0 IP he allowed 1 ER on 5 H and 0 BB, striking out 8, putting him at 2-0 with a 2.35 ERA and 0.87 WHIP over 23.0 IP.  Obviously his 29 K vs. 6 BB is going to catch your attention, and you have to wonder if a change of approach has led to the significant shift in his production.  Prior to yesterday he had been throwing significantly fewer fastballs (46.2%), and that may have helped to an increase in swinging strikes (14.8% SwStr%, 15 swinging strikes yesterday).  Despite yesterday’s strong showing (7 groundballs vs. 2 fly balls) he’s not a major groundball pitcher (36.7% entering the day) and there’s a good chance his control takes a small step backwards.  It’s been a great start, but don’t be surprised if a regression is coming.

5) Is Eric Thames worth buying…
He clearly is pushing Jesus Aguilar for playing time, and thus far has outproduced him.  It’s not to say that he’s been spectacular himself, but after going 2-4 with 1 HR, 1 RBI and 1 R yesterday he’s now hitting .257 with 3 HR and 8 RBI (compared to Aguilar, who went 0-1 as a pinch hitter and is now hitting a meager .153).  Before we get too excited keep in mind that Thames now has 17 K vs. 1 BB over just 35 AB, and he hasn’t had an extra base hit outside of his 3 HR.  If he’s playing every day he’s going to hold value, but the Brewers are going to want to get Aguilar going and there should be at least a little bit of a rebound coming.  In the deepest of formats he’s worth stashing to see, but don’t get too excited.

6) Has Robinson Cano finally started to turn things around…
We mentioned him as a potential buy low candidate yesterday and then he came out and gave some results.  He went 3-5 with 1 RBI and 1 R, including a pair of doubles, raising his average to a still disappointing .218 to go along with 2 HR and 9 RBI.  He does have 6 doubles as he’s continuing to hit the ball exceptionally hard (45.8%) and use the entire field (27.1% Oppo%).  While the SwStr% is up (11.7%), that is something that he should be able to improve upon.  He’s not going to be the Cano from a few years ago, but he still should be able to hit .280+ with 17-20 HR power.  Obviously the outlook is a little bit different if you play in a keeper/dynasty league, but yesterday should just be the start of the turnaround meaning the window to buy low could be closing.

7) Will this be the year Vincent Velasquez finally figures it out…
Of course a lot of that is dependent on his health, which has often sabotaged him, but pitching in Coors Field Velasquez was impressive as he allowed 2 ER on 7 H and 1 BB, striking out 8, over 5.2 IP.  Obviously we’d like to see a few less base runners, but he generated 19 swinging strikes and has now allowed 2 ER or fewer in each of his three starts.  He did allow a home run, and he’s allowed 1 HR in each of his starts, and this is the first time that we’ve seen the strikeout stuff on full display in ’19.  The fact is he hadn’t been missing many bats (he still has just a 9.4% SwStr%), and home runs could easily continue to plague him.  It appears that he’s ditched his changeup, and while he is throwing the ball harder (94.9 mph on his fastball) there are more questions than answers.  Sure he’s intriguing, but we wouldn’t consider him a lock to continue producing.

8) Does Omar Narvaez warrant our attention…
He enjoyed a big day yesterday, going 1-2 with 1 HR, 1 RBI and 1 R, putting him a .303 with 5 HR and 12 RBI on the season.  That’s going to catch our attention, even in one-catcher formats, so now we have to ask ourselves if he can continue this type of production.  It’s the power that’s the notable development, as he is a career .277 hitter, and it appears that he’s taking a much more home run-centric approach.  His fly ball rate is up to 54.0% and he’s not hitting the ball particularly hard (28.0% Hard%), meaning the AVG is surely to drop (.333 BABIP) and he may also regress from his 18.5% HR/FB.  Throw in the jump in his SwStr% (10.2%) and the total package is unappealing.  It’s a nice start, but don’t get infatuated.

9) Marcus Stroman silences the Oakland bats…
He went 8.0 impressive innings allowing 1 ER on 6 H and 2 BB, striking out 6, to earn his first win despite carrying an impressive 1.76 ERA.  He has struggled with his control occasionally (he’s walked 4 batters in two separate starts), and while he’s still generating groundballs (56.0%) he’s getting hit hard (38.4% Hard%) and could easily see a regression in his strikeout stuff (8.51 K/9).  What’s interesting is that he does appear to have altered his approach, throwing his curveball 31.8% of the time (11.7% for his career).  Could that help lead to more strikeouts?  It’s possible, and if that’s the case the production should continue.  He’s not going to be this good and you are going to want to be careful inside the AL East, but there’s enough reasons to at least grab him as a matchup play with the potential to develop into more (and fully unlock his potential).

10) Fernando Tatis Jr. does it all as his breakout continues…
Hitting atop the Padres lineup he went 1-3 with 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 R and 3 SB.  It was arguably the performance of the night, and he’s now hitting .296 with 6 HR, 13 RBI, 11 R and 4 SB over 71 AB.  You can argue that he can’t quite maintain this power pace (27.3% Hard%), but he also clearly hasn’t been overmatched as he owns a 49.0% Hard% and his 11.4% SwStr% is elevated, but not unreasonable.  There was a lot of hype and clearly he’s been backing it up thus far.  It’ll be an interesting NL Rookie of the Year battle between Tatis and Pete Alonso, as they will battle back and forth as the favorite throughout the season.

Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs

6 COMMENTS

  1. Rank 3 for my keeper league (keep 6). I probably will only play 1 or 2 of them in any given week.
    Trevor Richards
    Pablo Lopez
    Brandon Woodruff
    Touki Toussaint

  2. Hello Professor,

    After Kelly’s 7 BB performance yesterday, wondering if I should drop him for P. Lopez or Luke Weaver’s two start week next week or should I hold. Trying to think long term as well in a 12 team, 6×6 H2H with Wins and Q’s.

    Thanks in advance for your response

    • He’s no better than those guys and don’t think it’ll be a mad rush to the wire for him. Unless it’s a dynasty, move on

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