10 Important Stories from 04/20/19 Box Scores: Is C. Frazier A Must Buy, Under-The-Radar Offense, Struggling Aces & More

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Can Christian Yelich win the NL MVP in April?  He’s making a strong case, after going 2-3 with 2 HR, 2 RBI and 3 R yesterday left him hitting .361 with 13 HR and 31 RBI.  It was a monster day for Eddie Rosario, who went 5-9 with 3 HR, 4 RBI and 4 R over the two games of the double header with Baltimore.  Cole Tucker had a solid debut, hitting atop the batting order and going 1-3 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 1 R (we are going to take an in-depth look at him later this morning, so make sure to check that one out).  What else happened on the field that we need to know about?  Let’s take a look:

1) Has Clint Frazier finally arrived…
On a day where Aaron Judge appears to be ticketed for the Injured List, and there is no replacing him, at least Frazier appears to finally be figuring things out at the highest level.  He went 3-5 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 1 R yesterday, putting him at .351 with 5 HR and 14 RBI on the season.  He’s been hitting the ball hard (37.2% Hard% entering play yesterday), but he’s always shown that ability.  The big differences are a bloated HR/FB (25.0% before yesterday’s home run, a rate that may regress at least a little) and a much improved strikeout rate (19.3%).  The latter is a bit of a concern, as a 13.0% SwStr% indicates that he is unlikely to maintain the improvements.  That may be exposed even further as he loses some protection in the lineup and is asked to hit in a “prime” spot, especially given his Whiff% against breaking balls (22.37%) and offspeed pitches (30.00%).  While he’s well worth owning, especially while he’s going well, don’t be surprised if he takes a significant step backwards before long.

2) Is it time to believe again in Miles Mikolas…
With the way he started it was easy to jump off the Mikolas bandwagon, though he gave us a glimpse yesterday as to why there was some hype entering the year.  Taking on the Mets he allowed 2 ER on 4 H and 2 BB, striking out 4, over 8.0 IP to earn the W and lower his ERA to 4.97.  Obviously we’d like to see him generating more strikeouts, though that was always going to be an unfortunate risk in owning him.  While he should improve, his 15 K over 29.0 IP is a major knock against him.  That said he was doing a good job of generating groundballs (12 groundballs vs. 8 fly balls yesterday) and continues to be among the elite control artists in the game (7 BB over his four starts).  He may not be quite the ace that we had hoped for, thanks to the lack of strikeouts, but there’s more than enough reason to buy in.  As a SP3 type, with the upside for more, he’s well worth owning.

3) Yu Darvish struggles again, but does it create a buying situation…
Taking on the Diamondbacks he allowed 3 ER on 5 H and 3 BB, striking out 7, over 5.0 IP.  While it wasn’t a horrendous showing, it also wasn’t particularly good.  He now owns a 5.96 ERA and 1.72 WHIP over five starts (22.2 IP) as he’s generally struggled with both his control (18 BB) and home runs (6 HR, including 2 HR allowed yesterday).  Even if you take out the 7 BB performance in his first start he has 11 BB over 20.0 IP, so anyway you slice it he simply hasn’t been good.  That’s always been a concern, and he also has generally failed to generate many groundballs (41.3% groundball rate).  While the strikeouts should be there, is that really going to be enough?  There’s still upside, but for now he’s hard to trust.

4) Renato Nunez flies under-the-radar over the double header…
When you give up 22 runs between two games it’s easy to overlook the offensive production you get (especially with your opponent producing some big offensive days).  What Nunez did between the games is noteworthy, as he combined to go 5-9 with 3 HR, 4 RBI and 4 R, putting him at .304 with 5 HR and 16 RBI on the season.  He’s generally had swing and miss issues, but he entered yesterday with a 10.5% SwStr% (he struck out twice in the two games).  There has always been power potential, and if he can maintain his pace with the contact he should be able to continue a solid AVG (though he’s going to regress, considering his 15.4% Oppo% entering the day).  Is he worth the flier?  Absolutely, as he’s an under-the-radar source of power, but don’t expect more than a .260ish AVG (with potential for worse).

5) Did Touki Toussaint already pitch his way out of the rotation…
Taking on the Indians it was a horrific outing, allowing 7 ER on 6 H and 1 BB, striking out 2, over 1.1 IP.  Throw in one wild pitch and three hit batters and he simply didn’t have it.  He got the opportunity after a stellar relief appearance (0 ER over 6.0 IP), but with Mike Foltynewicz close to returning from the DL someone is going to be the odd man out.  It would be a hard sell to Atlanta fans to give Toussaint another turn, while removing Mike Soroka after he starred in his first start of the season.  Obviously decisions aren’t generally made off of one start, but when you have as many options as Atlanta does you can afford to have less rope.  Considering the team also needs help in the bullpen, eventually they will have to shift someone to get their best arms in the Majors.  Could Toussaint be one of those guys?  Time will tell, but leave him stashed for the time being but don’t be surprised if those in redraft formats need to move on.

6) Chase Anderson tries to show his value for the Brewers…
For a team always looking for help in the rotation, watching Anderson shutdown the Dodgers obviously was a welcome sight.  He tossed 5.0 scoreless innings allowing 1 H and 2 BB, striking out 5, in his first start of the season.  Before we get too excited, keep in mind that he simply wasn’t generating swings and misses (3) and also allowed more fly balls than groundballs (6-to-4).  A lack of strikeouts (career 7.54 K/9) and home runs (career 38.2% groundball rate) hung over him before the season started, so seeing those red flags shouldn’t come as a surprise.  He’s earned himself another turn through the rotation, but would it really be surprising to see him lose that opportunity in short order?  Great start, but he’s not worth grabbing based off of it.

7) What has gone wrong with Gerrit Cole…
He wasn’t the only ace to struggle yesterday, as Max Scherzer surprisingly stumbled against the Marlins (6 ER over 5.1 IP).  Cole was even worse than that allowing 9 R (8 earned) on 9 H and 3 BB, striking out 8, over 4.1 IP and now owns a gaudy 5.22 ERA.  He does have 44 K over 29.1 IP this season and this was the first time he had allowed more than 3 ER in a start.  That said he has allowed a HR in four of his five starts, as he continues to be more of a fly ball pitcher (36.4% entering the day, after a 36.0% mark last season).  Obviously that has the potential to be an issue, especially with his Hard% rising (37.5% entering the day).  That’ll be the key to watch, because if he continues to be hit hard and the home runs flying over the fences he’s going to struggle.  We wouldn’t bank on that happening, just keep an eye on it.

8) Aaron Nola conquers Coors Field, kind of…
It would’ve been easy to sit Nola, after he had struggled over his first few starts.  He did get the W yesterday in Colorado, though was it really a “stellar” showing?  Over 5.2 IP he allowed 3 ER on 9 H and 1 BB, striking out 9, as the Rockies did tag him for 2 HR.  He’s now allowed 7 HR over his five starts, and while you may want to give him a pass due to the Coors factor yesterday, how do we get behind his 1.68 WHIP?  The biggest issue is a significant drop in his SwStr%, as he entered the day with an 8.4% mark (12.4% yesterday) and despite getting the strikeouts yesterday generated a mere 9 swinging strikes in the game.  He’s using his pitches in a similar fashion as he did last season and we want to believe that he’s going to figure it out and start producing like an ace as nothing glaring is hanging over him (his velocity is there and he entered the day with a 26.3% Hard%).  Don’t panic at this point.

9) Is it time to give up Yusei Kikuchi…
Taking on the Angels he did get the victory, but it was ugly.  Lasting 5.0 innings he allowed 4 ER on 10 H and 2 BB, striking out 3, and now owns a 4.68 ERA and 1.32 WHIP over his six starts.  At least he kept the ball in the ballpark yesterday, having allowed 5 HR over his previous three starts.  He also generally has shown solid control, but where he’s failed is generating strikeouts (6.34 K/9) as his 7.6% SwStr% and 24.8% O-Swing% indicate that he’s simply not fooling opposing hitters.  You would think that there’d be hope of an improvement, especially with a 61.1% strand rate, but if the strikeouts don’t improve will it matter much?  Throw in the Mariners limiting him as he adjusts to the U.S. game and there’s the potential for this season to be a disaster.  While he’s worth owning, don’t be surprised if he falls short of your preseason expectations.

10) Can Brandon Drury entrench himself in Toronto’s lineup…
He went 3-4 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 2 R yesterday, giving him home runs in back-to-back games (and hits in four of his past five, raising his average from .140 to .181).  Obviously the overall numbers remain unsightly, and he’s also managed 29 K vs. 4 BB over 72 AB.  That’s not promising, especially when you factor in his sudden pull-centric approach (11.6% Oppo%).  He should be better and he has been hitting the ball hard (44.2% Hard%), but there also is going to be an expiration date on his playing time.  Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is closing in on his debut, and you also have to wonder when Bo Bichette and Cavan Biggio will join him in the Majors.  With the team looking towards the future, is Drury going to be nothing more than a utility player?  There’s the potential to capitalize in the short-term, but he’s not likely to be much more than that.

Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball

6 COMMENTS

  1. Hi Prof! Any chance you could pull together a post on cheap steals? Even prospects to keep an eye on for later call ups would be helpful. Just a thought! Thanks!

  2. Just a heads up Chase Anderson velocity was around 94 last night. If you look back to post break 2017 he had a 2.47. 1.06 whip 48ks 213BAA In 51 Inn. If i can recall my notes from what I wrote going into last year his FB was sitting around 93.6 during that stretch. Last year his Fb was only 92.4. Yes I know it’s only one start but I saw 93.9 last night and his avg so far this year is 93.7. I had him starting in 2 of my 3 NFBC leagues and feel he could be great value the rest of the way.

  3. Re: Mikolas – as a Mets fan, I watched this game, and Mikolas had the benefit of a pretty wide strike zone. The ump blew a number of calls that absolutely ruined ABs. Overall, I wasn’t very impressed with his stuff, and I think him going 8 innings had more to do with the game being over rather quickly due to the Mets terrible pitching duo. It’s still early and I haven’t seen much of Mikolas, so please take this with a giant grain of salt.

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