10 Important Stories from 04/23/19 Box Scores: Breakout Starters To Buy (Weaver, Wheeler), Hitters Primed To Explode (Zunino, Reyes) & More

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Chris Sale showed signs of turning things back around, allowing 2 ER on 5 H and 2 BB, striking out 10, over 5.0 IP against the Tigers (though he settled for a no decision).  Kenta Maeda struggled for the second time in three starts, allowing 6 ER on 7 H and 3 BB, striking out 5, over 4.0 IP against the Cubs.  Eddie Rosario hit another long ball (1-4, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 R), his 10th home run of the season to go along with a .274 AVG and 23 RBI.  What else happened on the field that we need to know about?  Let’s take a look:

1) Detroit starters silence the Boston bats…
Both of Detroit’s starters impressed over the double header yesterday:

  • Matt Boyd – 7.0 IP, 3 ER, 3 H, 2 BB, 3 K, W
  • Spencer Turnbull – 5.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 H, 4 BB, 2 K, W

Obviously it was Boyd who was the more impressive of the two and he’s now 2-1 with a 3.16 ERA and 1.02 WHIP over 31.1 IP over 5 starts.  The strikeouts have been down over his past three starts (16 K over 20.0 IP) and he’s now given up a home run in each of his past two starts (yesterday he generated just 6 groundballs vs. 11 fly balls) and entered the day with a 39.6% groundball rate.  Those are two obvious risks, and his first few starts are helping to mask them.  He’s got value, but don’t overvalue him.

2) Pablo Lopez flashes his upside against the Indians…
He went 6.1 innings allowing 1 R (0 earned) on 2 H and 2 BB, striking out 6.  A preseason breakout candidate, even with this performance he owns a 4.44 ERA and he has not thrown more than 89 pitches in a start this season.  The latter could limit him in terms of wins upside, but he now has 29 K vs. 5 BB over 26.1 IP, entered the day with enough groundballs (44.1%, before 11 groundballs vs. 3 fly balls yesterday) and was suffering from a lot of poor luck (32.2% Hard%, .386 BABIP, 61.1% strand rate).  While the results haven’t necessarily been there, he’s showing the same upside and could be primed for a breakout.  In most formats he’s worth grabbing to find out if the owner lost hope after his slow start.

3) Is it time to buy into Luke Weaver and a potential breakout…
Taking on the Pirates he allowed 1 ER on 6 H and 1 BB, striking out 7, over 6.1 IP to improve to 2-1 with a 3.33 ERA and 1.19 WHIP over 27.0 IP.  Over his past three starts he’s allowed 3 ER over 17.2 IP with 24 K vs. 2 BB over that span.  Of course when you look at his overall 46.7% Hard% there’s a red flag that can’t be overlooked, and you have to wonder if he can maintain his 10.33 K/9 (10.1% SwStr%, 32.1% O-Swing%) and 2.00 BB/9 (3.56 BB/9 over 136.1 IP last season in the Majors).  That’s a lot of questions to be hanging over him and there’s a good chance that his value is never higher than it currently is.  There’s always been some potential, but if someone in your league is willing to pay a premium we’d jump on the opportunity to sell high.

4) Is it time to buy into Jeff Samardzija as a viable fantasy option…
Taking on the Blue Jays he allowed 2 ER on 5 H and 1 BB, striking out 4, over 5.1 IP to earn the W and improve to 2-1 with a 3.00 ERA and 1.15 WHIP over 27.0 IP (5 starts).  Of course he continues to struggle generating groundballs (31.1% groundball rate), and we’ve seen that start to cause some problems of late (3 HR allowed over his past two starts).  Couple that with an extremely elevated 52.6% Hard%, though a .260 BABIP and 78.4% strand rate, and the downside far outweighs the potential upside.  While it would be easy to claim that he’s turned back the clock and is back to being a viable fantasy option, that certainly isn’t the case.  Don’t buy in.

5) Has Mike Zunino finally figured things out…
He went 3-4 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 2 R yesterday, giving him home runs in back-to-back games.  Those are his first two home runs of the season, but the bigger development has been in his ability to make contact.  While he’s still hitting .246 he has just 13 K over 57 AB thus far and over his current eight game hitting streak (12-28) he has struck out twice.  It’s not that he hasn’t been swinging and missing, though his current 13.2% SwStr% is significantly better than he’s shown throughout his career (17.0%, including 17.5% last season).  While he will likely start striking out a little bit more, if he’s going to continue to show the improvement when coupled with his elevated Hard% (45.5% this season, 38.6% or better over the previous two) the results will be there.  Even in one-catcher formats he’s going to be worth the risk.

6) Zack Wheeler continues to show signs of a potential breakout…
Taking on the Phillies he was fantastic, tossing 7.0 shutout innings allowing 5 H and 0 BB, striking out 11.  He generated 15 swinging strikes and when opposing hitters were making contact they were burying the ball into the ground, with 6 groundballs vs. 3 fly balls.  After a slow start he’s now allowed 5 ER over his past 20.0 IP, with 24 K vs. 6 BB over his past three starts.  Control has been a question in the past, but if we take out his one 7 BB debacle he has a solid 7 BB over 25.0 IP on the season to go along with an uptick in velocity (he’s averaged 97.3 mph on his fastball) and a solid 51.3% groundball rate.  While there are still some questions and risk, it appears that he has all the makings of a breakout starter and is well worth buying into.

7) Is Travis Shaw finally showing signs of turning things around…
He went 2-4 with 2 HR, 2 RBI and 2 R yesterday, giving him 3 HR over his past two games.  Of course he’s also struck out 4 times over these two games and now owns a 33.0% strikeout rate for the season.  His 14.7% SwStr% is a far cry from his 9.4% career mark (8.2% last season) and you would think as the hits start falling he will stop pressing and start to see the strikeouts regress a bit.  Couple that hope with a 45.1% Hard% (.255 BABIP) and willingness to use the entire field (29.4% Oppo%) and there’s every reason to believe that a rebound is coming.  While it’s been a disappointing start to what was expected to be a strong season, there’s still plenty of time and reason for optimism.  The power surge over the past few days should only be the start, so continue to stay the course.

8) Is it time to give up on the reemergence of Michael Pineda…
Taking on the Astros he allowed 4 ER on 8 H and 2 BB, striking out 4, over 5.1 IP.  After a promising start to the season he’s now allowed 13 ER over his past three starts (15.0 IP), and has been even worse over his past two (10 ER over 9.0 IP).  He has continued to show solid control (1.88 BB/9), which has always been a strength even before the injuries and missed season.  However he’s not generating many groundballs (35.1%) and he’s getting hit hard (43.2% Hard%) without the strikeout stuff being there (7.50 K/9).  It’s not to say that there isn’t hope (though a 10.6% SwStr% would be a career low), but with these issues coupled with home run problems (1.50 HR/9) there would appear to be more downside than upside.  Maybe he works through the issues and becomes a viable option once again, but for now he’s more of a player to watch as opposed to being one to utilize.

9) Domingo German gives reason for optimism…
Saying that the Yankees have been hit extremely hard by injuries would be an understatement, but what’s left has given some reason for optimism.  Luke Voit stepped up at the plate yesterday (2-4, 2 HR, 2 RBI, 3 R), but it was German who was the bigger story.  Taking on the Angels he allowed 1 R (0 earned) on 4 H and 1 BB, striking out 5, over 6.2 IP to improve to 4-1 with a 1.75 ERA.  Of course he wasn’t a groundball machine (7 groundballs vs. 8 fly balls), nor was he generating many swings and misses (9 swinging strikes).  The swings and misses have not been an issue this season (14.5% SwStr%), but the groundballs have been (38.7%) and pitching half his games in Yankee Stadium that’s going to lead to questions regarding his potential to keep the ball in the ballpark.  Couple that with having benefited from a .180 BABIP and it’s easy to envision a regression coming.  That’s not to say that he should be ignored and can’t hold value, but don’t be surprised if there are a few bumps in the near future.

10) Franmil Reyes shows a power explosion at the plate…
He went 2-4 with 2 HR, 3 RBI and 2 R yesterday, and while he’s hitting a mere .219 he does have 6 HR and 11 RBI on the season.  There’s obviously going to be swing and miss as part of his game (13.9% SwStr% on the season), but there’s no questioning his power or ability to hit the ball hard (even if he can’t maintain an otherworldly 58.0% Hard%, he was at 44.2% in the Majors last season).  Those two things combined should lead to better than a .182 BABIP, meaning there are a lot of better days ahead.  Don’t make the mistake of overlooking him as he battles for playing time with Hunter Renfroe, because the payoff should be significant.

Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs

6 COMMENTS

  1. You mentioned Jorge Polanco in yesterday’s post. Do you like Polanco or Peraza more going forward? I invested a lot in Peraza and now I’m already willing to cut him.

    • I still believe in Peraza and think he has the higher upside. Polanco is a solid option and someone I like, but I wouldn’t cut bait on Peraza and miss out on the inevitable rebound

  2. Waiver wire: Franmil Reyes or Daniel Vogelbach? No particular needs, just want highest upside for the rest of the season.

    • That’s not a crazy expectation, though I’m not sure of the 75 R given the rest of the lineup (and he may be closer to the 20-22 HR range)

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