10 Important Stories from 05/08/19 Box Scores: Starters Not Worth Buying, Buy Low Candidates To Target & More

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Brandon Woodruff tossed a gem against the Nationals (6.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 H, 0 BB, 9 K), and we will take a closer look at him later on this afternoon.  Chris Sale looked like the Chris Sale of old, finally, dominating the Orioles (unfortunately in a no decision) as he allowed 1 ER on 3 H and 0 BB, striking out 14, over 8.0 IP.  Jose Ramirez snapped his RBI-less streak at 11 games, going 2-5 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 1 R.  What else happened on the field that we need to know about?  Let’s take a look:

1) Are we starting to see signs of life from Rougned Odor…
He went 1-4 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 2 R yesterday, giving him home runs in two of his past three games.  Obviously that’s not a lot, especially as he’s still hitting .141 with 34 K over 85 AB on the season.  Let’s not forget that he was terrible in the first half of ’18 as well (.239 with 6 HR) before catching fire in the second half (.266 with 12 HR).  While the SwStr% is elevated (13.1% entering the day), it wouldn’t justify this type of strikeout rate and also had been better over his first five May games (10.9%).  Obviously his 33.3% strikeout rate in May should improve, and his .196 BABIP should improve (even with concerns about an elevated fly ball rate of 47.8% and an Oppo% sitting at 14.3%).  Things should improve in time, even if he’s always going to be pull heavy, so now may be the ideal time to try and buy low.

2) Has Robbie Ray re-emerged as a viable fantasy option…
Taking on the Rays he tossed 5.2 shutout innings allowing 4 H and 3 BB, striking out 11.  Obviously the biggest concern remains his control, as he’s now walked 23 over 43.2 IP over his eight stats (he’s had 3+ walks in five starts, including 6 BB over 11.1 IP in his past two outings).  That alone is always going to cap his appeal, but he also is hardly a groundball machine (he entered the day with a 41.8% groundball rate) and could have home run issues as the season progresses (he entered the day with a 0.95 HR/9, but he posted a 1.38 last season).  Strikeouts are nice, and there’s no arguing his potential in that regard (he had 19 swinging strikes yesterday), but when coupled with the other issues they also create high pitch counts and prevent him from working deep into games (he hasn’t gone more than 6.0 innings in any start).  That will limit his potential for wins, and while there is value he’s more of a lower end option.

3) What’s gone wrong for Jack Flaherty…
Taking on the Phillies it wasn’t a good start for Flaherty as he allowed 4 R (3 earned) on 4 H and 3 BB, striking out 2, over 5.0 IP dropping him to 3-3 with a 4.32 ERA and 1.27 WHIP over 41.2 IP.  While he wasn’t generating swings and misses (7) and didn’t have great control, but he entered the day with an 11.05 K/9 (13.6% SwStr%) and 2.45 BB/9.  The biggest issue has been in terms of home runs, having entered the day with a 1.96 HR/9 courtesy of a 40.6% groundball rate (he generated 7 groundballs vs. 7 fly balls yesterday).  He needs to correct that, as well as improve his Hard% (43.4%), if he wants to have success.  Both are reasonable expectations, as he’s actually been throwing the ball harder this season (93.8 mph on his fastball, up from 92.7 last season).  While it’s easy to be discouraged, don’t make the mistake of selling low on him right now.  There should be better days ahead.

4) Has Matt Strahm truly emerged as a trustworthy option…
He settled for a no decision against the Mets though pitched well, allowing 2 ER on 6 H and 1 BB, striking out 7, over 6.1 IP.  After giving up 5 ER in his first start he’s now allowed 2 ER or fewer in each of his past six, putting up an impressive 3.00 ERA and 1.10 WHIP over 39.0 IP.  He had gone four straight starts without a walk prior to yesterday and now has 34 K vs. 6 BB.  He hasn’t been generating many groundballs (33.0% entering the day), though pitching half his games in San Diego is going to help limit the potential negative impact there.  There also are questions as to his strikeout upside (he entered with a 9.5% SwStr% before having 11 swinging strikes yesterday) and whether or not he can maintain this type of elite control.  Obviously he’s proving to be a solid starter, but with questions up and down his skillset and entering the day with a 44.4% Hard% (yet just a .292 BABIP) and there is reason for pessimism.  Selling high may be your best bet.

5) Does another strong start mean Yusei Kikuchi has turned the corner…
He’s now made two “normal” starts after the Mariners had him operate similar to an opener (1.0 IP on April 26), and the results have been impressive.  Taking on the Yankees, on the road, he allowed 1 ER on 3 H and 1 BB, striking out 3, over 7.2 IP and has now allowed 2 ER on 6 H and 2 BB over 14.2 IP in his last two starts (lowering his ERA to 3.52).  Obviously he was generating fewer strikeouts yesterday, including just 8 swinging strikes, and that has been the biggest surprise considering the lack of familiarity the league has with him.  We would still anticipate that changing, in time, and having entered the day with a 1.99 BB/9 and 47.5% groundball rate (as well as a 33.9% Hard%) there’s a lot to like moving forward.  While it isn’t a guarantee, he should continue to be viewed as a solid option.

6) Kyle Gibson goes on a strikeout binge against Toronto…
He improved to 3-1 as he allowed 1 ER on 2 H and 1 BB, striking out 11, over 6.0 IP.  He has allowed 2 ER or fewer in four straight starts, lowering his ERA from 7.36 to 4.19, though this was the first time this season he struck out more than 6 in a start (and it’s the first time he reached double-digit strikeouts since April 26, when he had 10 K against the Yankees).  While he entered the day with a 7.99 K/9, a 12.0% SwStr% showed that there was more upside and he delivered with 19 swinging strikes.  Couple that with control (2.76 BB/9) and groundballs (51.0%, with 4 groundballs vs. 3 fly balls yesterday) and there’s a lot to like.  Granted he’s never going to be an ace and it’s hard to envision multiple strikeout days like this, but as a mid-to-back end option there’s reason to believe.

7) Is it time to be buying Ronny Rodriguez…
He helped lead the charge against Tyler Skaggs (4.2 IP, 8 R, 8 H, 2 BB, 4 K), going 3-4 with 4 RBI and 1 R (he was just a home run short of the cycle).  He is now hitting .340 with 3 HR and 12 RBI, and has multi-hit games in four of his past six.  He did have 14 HR and 12 SB in 481 PA between Triple-A and the Majors, and while he’s been hitting the ball hard this season (50.0% Hard%) that’s the only metric that supports his production.  Entering yesterday he had been showing horrific plate discipline (19.3% SwStr%, 48.2% O-Swing%), had been taking a fly ball-centric approach (45.9%) and was extremely pull heavy (13.2% Oppo%).  None of that supports a .343 BABIP and could lead to a significant increase in his strikeout rate (22.2%).  He’s the type of player to ride while he’s hot, but quickly move on.

8) Brad Peacock delivers an ace-like performance, but do we believe…
The Astros did give him a big lead, which likely helped, and it also came against the Royals.  That takes nothing away from the performance Peacock had, tossing 7.0 shutout innings allowing 3 H and 1 BB, striking out 12.  Granted there was only 11 swinging strikes yesterday, and with a 9.0% SwStr% entering the day it gets harder to buy into this type of performance.  Couple with an elevated Hard% (40.2% entering the day) and a less than stellar groundball rate (40.2%, before 4 groundballs vs. 6 fly balls) and there are ample reasons for pessimism.  It’s not to say that there isn’t value, as long as he’s in the rotation, but there’s a good chance that there are more struggles than stellar performances like this one.  Don’t use this as a reason to buy in.

9) Mike Foltynewicz takes it on the chin in Los Angeles…
Clayton Kershaw got the W, though he too was hardly impressive (6.2 IP, 4 ER, 9 H, 1 BB, 4 K).  That said it was Foltynewicz who particularly struggled, allowing 5 ER on 5 H and 4 BB, striking out 2, over 6.0 IP and now owns a 5.94 ERA and 1.44 WHIP over his three starts since returning from the DL.  Home runs have been the biggest issue, as he allowed 2 yesterday and has now allowed 5 HR over 16.2 IP on the season.  Couple that with just 10 K over 16.2 IP and there are reasons to be skeptical.  He did enter the day with 10.0% SwStr% in his first two starts (11 swinging strikes yesterday), so there is a little bit of hope, but unless he can figure out how to keep the ball in the ballpark the results will continue to be subpar (even when his 50.9% strand rate does improve).  While we wouldn’t necessarily believe in a full turnaround and a stellar performance moving forward, but he also has enough upside to keep him stashed and see what happens (but he shouldn’t be in your lineup until he gives you reason to).

10) A second straight stellar start from Kyle Hendricks…
Of course this one came against the Marlins, but he still allowed just 1 R (0 earned) on 5 H and 0 BB, striking out 7, over 8.0 IP and has now allowed 0 ER with 18 K over 17.0 IP in his past two starts.  He did have one terrible outing on April 26, though he’s now allowed 0 ER in three of his past four starts and owns a solid 3.19 ERA with 34 K vs. 8 BB and hasn’t allowed a home run in his past five outings.  He was doing a great job of generating groundballs yesterday (11 groundballs vs. 5 fly balls), as that should continue improving (42.6% groundball rate entering the day) as also should his “luck” metrics (.342 BABIP, 62.5% strand rate entering the day).  While he may never be a strikeout leader, there’s enough here to make him worth believing in moving forward.

Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs

3 COMMENTS

    • To an extent this is format dependent. Impossible to give up Acuna for two pitchers, regardless of how good they are, if there are keeper implications. In a redraft, it’s a little bit easier to ok

  1. Professor:
    In a points league I am forced to drop two of the following four because I can’t make a trade.
    Austin Meadows, Pete Alonzo, Michael Conforto or Nick Senzel?

    Tough choice?

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