It was a miserable start for Blake Snell, who allowed 7 ER on 6 H and 3 BB, striking out 2, over 3.0 innings in the second game of their double header with the Royals. Jacob deGrom seemingly turned a corner, pitching tremendously against the Reds as he tossed 7.0 shutout innings allowing 3 H and 2 BB, striking out 6. Nolan Arenado had a big day at the dish, going 3-5 with 2 HR, 4 RBI and 2 R. What else happened on the field that we need to know about? Let’s take a look:
1) Should we be
buying Danny Santana…
There was a time that Santana was fairly hyped, but that feels like a lifetime ago. Having fallen off the radar he’s come out of nowhere to be a productive option. After going 2-3 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 1 R yesterday he’s now hitting .355 with 3 HR, 11 RBI, 14 R and 5 SB over 62 AB. Of course he’s also benefited from an unsustainable .429 BABIP entering the day, especially with a fairly pedestrian 36.4% Hard%. Throw in a poor approach, with an 11.2% SwStr% and 38.5% O-Swing% (he had 1 K and 1 BB yesterday), and all signs point towards a significant regression. For now the Rangers are trying to find a way to keep his bat in the lineup, and it’s a hot streak worth riding, but be prepared to cut bait when things inevitably turn.
2) A solid
performance from Merrill Kelly against the Yankees…
Sure we’d like to see him pitch deeper into the game, but he got the W having allowed 1 ER on 5 H and 2 BB, striking out 2, over 5.1 IP. The run came courtesy of a solo home run from Luke Voit (1-3, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 R), a trend that’s plagued him over his six starts. He’s allowed at least 1 HR in five of his six outings, with 6 HR over 35.0 IP, and with a 44.2% groundball rate entering the day it’s something that could continue to be an issue. Couple that with a lackluster ability to get swings and misses (8.3% SwStr% entering the day, 10 swinging strikes yesterday) as well as having benefited from an 82.4% strand rate and the risk would appear to outweigh any potential reward. At this point he would seem like more of a streaming option and nothing more.
3) Are we buying what
Jon Lester is selling…
It was a tremendous performance against Seattle, tossing 7.0 shutout innings allowing just 1 H and 1 BB, striking out 8. Over 26.0 innings of work he’s now posted a 1.73 ERA and 0.96 WHIP, striking out 27 compared to just 7 walks. At 35-years old we would’ve thought we knew what he was at this point, but are we buying? He entered the day with a 95.7% strand rate, while he had been hit exceptionally hard (50.9% Hard%), struggled to generate groundballs (39.6%) and hardly showed an impressive ability to generate swings and misses (9.2% SwStr%). The second two issues continued to present themselves yesterday, despite the strong outing, as he generated 6 groundballs vs. 8 fly balls and had 8 swinging strikes. It’s been a great start to 2019, but it’s easy to envision things imploding in spectacular fashion. Now is not the time to buy in, it’s the time to sell high.
4) Miles Mikolas
outpitches Max Scherzer…
It’s been a disappointing start to 2019 for Mikolas, but defeating Scherzer (7.0 IP, 3 ER, 8 H, 2 BB, 8 K) could be a step in the right direction. Going 6.0 innings he allowed 1 ER on 7 H and 1 BB, striking out 4, to improve to 3-2 with a 4.73 ERA. He’s now allowed 2 ER or fewer in two of his past three starts, while he should continue to improve in regards to home runs allowed (he entered the day with a 2.12 HR/9) and display elite control. The lack of strikeouts is a concern (6.6% SwStr% entering the day, 12 swinging strikes yesterday), as he’s gone in the opposite direction than we’d have hoped (instead of taking a step forward, as he showed in the second half of ’18, he was down to a 5.03 K/9 entering the day). If he can rediscover things in that regard than things will improve significantly, but even without that he should be at least a solid option moving forward.
5) Caleb Smith
delivers once again, so is it time to fully believe…
Taking on the Indians he allowed 1 ER on 4 H and 2 BB, striking out 8, over 7.0 IP. The most impressive mark from yesterday was his 21 swinging strikes, helping backup the strikeout numbers and continued his strong showing (he entered the day with a 15.6% SwStr% and 37.4% O-Swing%). There is going to be some risk involved of a regression on two different fronts:
- Luck – He entered the day with a .226 BABIP and 85.6% strand rate, both of which should take a step backwards
- Home Runs – He does pitch in a favorable home ballpark, but a 32.3% groundball rate (5 groundballs vs. 6 fly balls) tells us he could get into some trouble (4 HR over 36.0 IP)
There absolutely is value and potential, but there also is going to be a correction at some point. Keep that in mind, especially as you field offers and consider selling high.
6) An impressive pitching
duel between two young pitchers…
Cal Quantrill was making his MLB debut, taking on Max Fried in the Braves. Both youngsters pitched well, with Fried getting the best of the matchup:
- Cal Quantrill – 5.2 IP, 2 ER, 6 H, 1 BB, 3 K
- Max Fried – 7.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 H, 0 BB, 7 K
Fried is now 4-1 with a 2.11 ERA and 0.99 WHIP, rebounding from his first poor start of the season. While home runs have been an issue in recent starts (4 HR over 18.2 IP), but he entered the day with a 52.7% groundball rate (9 groundballs vs. 5 fly balls yesterday) so that shouldn’t be a concern. Throw in a strikeout rate that could rise a little bit (9.8% SwStr%, before 12 swinging strikes yesterday, with a 7.47 K/9) and sudden control (2.01 BB/9) and there’s a lot to like. If the control is for real there’s reason for optimism, though he had a 4.07 BB/9 over 13 starts at Triple-A a year ago. Keep that in mind before fully buying in.
7) Is it time to buy
into Raimel Tapia as a viable option…
He wasn’t coming off a big day, but a productive one as he went 1-4 with 2 R and 1 SB. He’s now hitting .264 with 3 HR and 1 SB over 72 AB, adding 5 doubles and 3 triples. They are strong numbers, though he also entered the day with a 30.6% strikeout rate courtesy of an awful approach (17.5% SwStr%, 40.1% O-Swing%). He also hasn’t been hitting the ball hard (28.3% Hard%), so clearly there are questions as to his upside. If he can figure things out and turn them around there is some developing power and there’s always been some speed. Is that enough, though? Unless there’s a dramatic change the risk is going to outweigh the potential reward, so consider him nothing more than a stash until we see more.
8) Should we be
giving up on Colin McHugh…
After allowing 4 ER on 5 H and 1 BB, striking out 2, over 6.0 IP he owns a 4.97 ERA over 38.0 IP. Home runs have become a significant issue in his recent starts, having allowed 6 HR over 15.0 IP, and with a 39.2% groundball rate that’s a potential issue that could continue. He’s continued to show solid control (2.61 BB/9) and he should be able to maintain a strikeout per inning (11.3% SwStr%), though before we play the luck card (63.3% strand rate) let’s not ignore the other side of things (.229 BABIP despite a 35.3% Hard%). Is there value and could there be better days ahead? Absolutely, but it’s also not a given. Don’t give up on him, but also don’t assume he’s locked in as a definitively strong option.
9) Don’t sleep on
Jose Abreu, who could be looking at a monster season…
He’s often overlooked and undervalued, but Abreu showed why he deserves to be considered a strong option as he went 4-9 with 1 HR, 6 RBI and 1 R over the double header. He’s now on a 10-game hitting streak, which includes eight multi-hit games (six straight), going 21-44 with 3 HR, 20 RBI and 7 R. Overall this season he’s hitting .292 with 6 HR and 30 RBI, showing an improved approach in the process (9.7% SwStr%, 29.4% O-Swing%). Over his career he owns a 37.2% O-Swing%, so we’ll have to wait and see if he can maintain that production, though his .346 BABIP is elevated but not outrageous, and his 20.0% HR/FB is right in-line with his career mark (18.9%). Hitting in the middle of an improved lineup it’s not a surprise that the production is there, and if he can continue to show his improved approach he could be in for a monster season. While it’s not a given, there’s an awful lot to like.
10) Marcus Stroman
takes a significant step backwards…
Taking on the Angels he allowed 5 R (4 earned) on 6 H and 2 BB, striking out 3, over 3.1 IP. It was his first bump of the season, and he still owns a 2.20 ERA and 1.20 WHIP. Of course his groundball rate is down (54.9%) and he’ll eventually allow at least a few home runs. Throw in a 40.0% Hard%, which should lead to a regression in his BABIP (.284 BABIP), and a strikeout rate that could regress (8.56 K/9 vs. a 7.33 career mark) and the risks may outweigh the potential reward. That becomes even more apparent when you realize that, despite his strong start to the season, he’s managed just 1 W on the season. There’s potential, but things could get significantly worse.
Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs