There’s nothing like a nice, busy, Monday of action to start off the week. While we weren’t exactly pleased with the fact that there was an early game that forced some lineup decisions, those with certain Cincinnati Reds players on their rosters were pleased. The good thing about all those games on Monday, means that there are also a solid number of teams who have a seven game week. Let’s take a look at some of the performances that stood out:
1) Senzel Makes it Count
If it weren’t for the injuries and the Reds’ reluctance in promoting Nick Senzel, we very well could have been having this conversation last season. Instead, we had to wait until this past Friday for Senzel to make his major league debut, and while future health concerns as it relates to his playing time have to be considered, it is clear that he is a talented young player. The Rookie of the Year contender made a good case for that on Monday as we went deep in his first two at bats of the game. He is now up to three, should be four if it weren’t for Kevin Pillar, home runs on the season with three RBI as all were solo shots. It was interesting to see Senzel batting lead-off, but it’s clear that he is a top of the order hitter. On the bad side of things, Senzel also struck out three times, but we are still just four games into his major league career. And if you needed any evidence of why you should be patient and trust talent, Eugenio Suarez continued on his way of putting his slow start behind him as he hit his 10th home run of the season and is now up to 23 RBI which will make you just about forget his .231 batting average.
2) Moncada is Rolling
So this what we have been waiting for with Yoan Moncada and all of his potential. I don’t to throw cold water onto the party, as it’s not the like pedigree, potential, and talent isn’t there, but I’d want to see this continue before truly investing at this market value. But yes, Moncada certainly looks impressive as he went deep for the seventh time of the season on Monday. Moncada, who also picked up his eighth double, drove in four runs to bring his total to 24 and he is also, perhaps most importantly, batting .293. While he is striking out a quarter of the time, Moncada also has a 7.5% walk rate, and it’s possible this success can continue.
3) Who is John Means?
There it is, I said it. Let’s just get right to the point and ask the question, because you likely aren’t the only one wondering just who this Baltimore southpaw is. Means has never truly distinguished himself as a prospect, and last season, he had a 3.48 ERA in 111.1 innings at Triple-A with 7.19 strikeouts per nine innings. That is pretty much the type of pitcher he is, and why Means wasn’t on many people’s radars. However, due to Baltimore’s clear lack of talent, the left-hander has appeared in nine games so far this season with the Orioles while making five starts. His fifth start came last night against the Red Sox, and Means picked up his fourth victory of the season. Boston didn’t manage much against Means as he limited them to one run on just three hits while not walking a batter and striking out four. With a 2.48 ERA and 1.93 walks per nine innings, Means is going to find himself on a good amount of FAAB lists, but is it really worth it? His 3.97 FIP and 4.43 xFIP do temper the enthusiasm, but you have to take a look at Means as you can never find enough pitching.
4) Perez Cruises to Victory
His early season struggles out of the bullpen are now ancient history, as Martin Perez took advantage of the weak hitting Blue Jays last night. Perez improved to 5-0 on the season with seven shutout innings. Toronto managed just two hits and two walks off the southpaw as he struck out nine. With a 2.83 ERA on the season, it would be even better if he didn’t allow seven runs in 8.1 innings of relief to begin the season, Perez has established himself as a starter who should be owned in every format. But before we go crazy, the large gap between his FIP (3.12) and xFIP (4.42) needs to be noted. The fact that Perez has allowed just 0.44 home runs per nine innings, is a large part of his success.
5) Pham Clears the Bases
As Tampa Bay continues to have success this season, they are up to 22-12, Tommy Pham is emerging as a key cog in their lineup. It’s not like the success is completely out of nowhere, but Pham is putting any doubt to rest. On Monday, Pham’s fifth home run of the season was a grand slam and he is now hitting .302 with 18 RBI on the season. While he didn’t steal a base last night, Pham is up to six stolen bases so far this year, but that is not the most interesting thing about his performance to begin 2019. To this point, Pham has 23 walks while also striking out 23 times. That is a recipe for success, as a 15.2% strikeout rate alone is enough to go on.
6) Mikolas Cruises to Victory
Yes, we know, Miles Mikolas isn’t going to strike out a ton of batters. But in his return to the United States last season, he had his share of success with a 2.83 ERA and 18 victories. What limits his value though, is the fact that Mikolas struck out just 6.55 batters per nine innings although he only walked 1.30 batters. We saw more of the same from Mikolas last night as he shut Philadelphia out over seven innings while scattering just three hits and striking out five to lower his ERA to 4.05. This season, Mikolas is once again limiting the walks, 1.72, but he is being done in by the long ball; 1.53 home runs per nine innings. That is baked into his 4.93 FIP as, to this point, he has benefited from a .248 BABIP.
7) Chirinos Continues to be a Threat
We know that the Astros have a deep lineup, and there is value in just about all their offensive players, but Robinson Chirinos is on his way to being a top-10 catcher this season. On Monday, he went deep for the fourth time this season as went 2 for 3 with a walk. The two run shot gave Chirinos 15 RBI on the season while his batting average improved to .269. Power was never a question for Chirinos, but with a career high of 360 at bats last season, playing time was always an issue. Well, his batting average was too, and this season he is well above his career average of .235. As long as he continues to hit like this, playing time shouldn’t be hard to come.
8) Scherzer Looks to Get Back on Track
Now, this is Max Scherzer we are talking about here, and let’s be honest, no one should be worried about him, but we can’t help ourselves. And with the pitching landscape in shambles, if it sounds like a broken record it is because it’s true, you are forgiven for having concerns. While he didn’t pick up the victory last night in Milwaukee, it’s still pretty difficult to find fault with the right-hander’s performance. In six innings of work, Scherzer allowed two runs, one earned, on six hits and one walk while striking out 10. That allowed Scherzer to improve his ERA to 3.78 on the season to go along with 12.38 strikeouts and just 1.38 walks per nine innings. As if you needed any more evidence that Scherzer is still a top level pitcher, his FIP is now 1.96.
9) More Domination in San Diego
We aren’t even going to get into the fact that the Marlins gave away Chris Paddack for nothing, but the Padres certainly made the right decision to have the right-hander begin the season at the major league level. Paddack picked up his third victory while throwing a career high 91 pitches en route to 7.2 scoreless innings. The Mets managed just four hits and one walk off the rookie hurler, all singles in fact, while striking out 11 times. That brought Paddack’s ERA down to 1.55. Paddack has 10.18 strikeouts per nine innings, and with 2.21 walks he is limiting the traffic on the base paths. Based on the quality of his stuff, hitters are only managing a .176 BABIP against the right-hander and that is a large part of his success. It is also the cause the discrepancy in his 2.33 FIP and 3.43 xFIP. But in watching him pitch, Paddack’s talent level is quite apparent.
10) Is Taylor Coming Out of It?
If you look at a list of 2019 disappointments, Chris Taylor is bound to be on it. But just a month into the season, it might be too early to completely give up on the utility player, and we know the Dodgers will continue to use. The fact that Cody Bellinger will exclusively be playing the outfield means Max Muncy moves over to first base, which then frees second base up for Taylor. On Monday, Taylor went 2 for 4 which included his fifth double of the season while driving in two runs (15 overall) and stealing his third base of the season. Taylor is still hitting just .231 on the year, but in his last 10 games, that jumps to .385.