10 Important Stories from 05/10/19 Box Scores: Must Buy Pitchers, Big Names That Can’t Be Trusted & More

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Zack Wheeler continued to thrive, albeit against the Marlins, striking out 10+ for the third time in four games (7.0 IP, 2 ER, 9 H, 1 BB, 11 K).  Austin Meadows returned from the DL with a bang, going 2-4 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 1 R hitting atop the Rays’ batting order.  Luis Castillo continued his emergence as an ace, despite struggling with his control, as he tossed 6.0 shutout innings allowing 2 H and 5 BB, striking out 11, to defeat the Giants.  What else happened on the field that we need to know about?  Let’s take a look:

1) What type of value does Andrelton Simmons hold…
He went 4-5 with 2 RBI and 2 R yesterday, giving him a modest four game hitting streak (9-19, 4 RBI, 3 R) and is hitting .308 with 3 HR, 21 RBI, 18 R and 3 SB.  Everything seems solid, especially hitting in the middle of the Angels’ lineup, but all of his value is tied to his average as he hasn’t hit more than 14 HR in a season since 2013 and only once has stolen more than 10 bases.  He entered yesterday with a career best 42.1% Hard% (the only other time he was above 30% was last season, at 36.0%).  That alone would raise a red flag to a possible regression, especially since he’s chasing outside the strike zone more than ever before (35.6% O-Swing%) and doesn’t use the entire field (14.3% Oppo%).  You put that with the lack of extreme power and speed and it’s easy to envision the production drying up.  Ride him while he’s hot, especially hitting in the middle of the order, but don’t assume he’s going to maintain it.

2) Has the upside of Pablo Lopez completely disappeared…
He was absolutely torched by the Mets, allowing 10 ER (including 8 runs in the first) on 10 H and 2 BB, striking out 3, over 3.0 IP.  He allowed 3 HR on the day, including a grand slam to Amed Rosario (1-4, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 1 R) and one to the struggling Michael Conforto (3-3, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 3 R).  While Lopez has shown potential, it’s been erratic at best as he’s allowed 4+ ER in four of his eight starts and owns a 5.93 ERA and 1.29 WHIP.  That said he’s only allowed 5 HR to go along with 42 K vs. 11 BB over 41.0 IP, meaning he’s generally shown all of the skills we look for from a pitcher (he entered the day with a 51.0% groundball rate and an impressive 11.5% SwStr%).  This was a miserable start, which may be an understatement, and wins will be difficult to come by but there should be better days ahead.

3) Domingo German just continues to win…
He wasn’t necessarily impressive but it was enough to get the W against the Rays, as he allowed 3 ER on 5 H and 2 BB, striking out 5, over 5.0 IP.  He’s now 7-1 with a 2.70 ERA and 0.95 WHIP over 43.1 IP.  Last night he was generating impressive swing and miss stuff (15 swinging strikes), something he’s been showing both this season (12.7% SwStr%) and continuously when he’s gotten a chance (13.9% over the course of his career).  The big concern here is in terms of home runs, which hadn’t been a big issue prior to yesterday (he allowed 2 HR).  Entering the day with a 39.4% groundball rate and pitching half his games in Yankee Stadium it’s an issue that likely will continue, and when you mix in his .204 BABIP (34.0% Hard%) there is a lot of regression risk in his coming starts.  Use him for now, but know the risk.

4) Is the power starting to return for Rafael Devers (or is he a sell candidate)…
Eduardo Rodriguez deserves mentioning as well, tossing 7.0 shutout innings (allowing 5 H and 1 BB while striking out 5), but the offense put up 14 R in part thanks to 3 HR.  In the middle of the action was Rafael Devers, who went 3-5 with 1 HR, 4 RBI and 1 R and is now hitting .314 with 2 HR and 18 RBI on the season.  Obviously the average is impressive, though entering the day with poor plate discipline (11.1% SwStr%, 35.6% O-Swing%) and benefiting from a lot of luck (.360 BABIP).  The key to his continued success is going to be an improvement in his power (3.4% HR/FB entering the day), though with a 25.9% fly ball rate is that something we are going to be able to hang our hat on?  He may be more of a 15-20 HR hitter, as opposed to a 30 HR threat, and with an average that should fall that could become a tough sell.  Without the power he may not be a true sell high candidate, but selling still isn’t a bad

5) Is it time to buy into Jake Odorizzi…
This was against the Tigers but that doesn’t take away from the impressive performance, tossing 7.0 shutout innings allowing 1 H and 0 BB, striking out 5.  He is now 5-2 with a 2.32 ERA and 0.94 WHIP, as he’s won each of his last five starts and hasn’t allowed a run in his past three (20.0 IP).  Overall he has 43 K over 42.2 IP, and while he entered the day with a 12.6% SwStr% he managed just 8 swinging strikes yesterday.  Considering his career 8.38 K/9, at least a slight regression in his strikeout rate is likely.  That’s not the biggest negative, as he’s a fly ball pitcher who will likely start to struggle with home runs (he entered with a 0.50 HR/9 despite a 26.2% groundballs rate, which was before 3 groundballs vs. 13 fly balls yesterday).  That regression, along with a .253 BABIP before this gem, tells you that things won’t stay this rosy for long.  Ride him while you can, but don’t consider him a pitcher to trust.

6) Trevor Williams rebounds in a big way…
There was some hype surrounding Williams entering the season and he started off strong (2.59 ERA over his first five starts), but things had turned over his previous two starts (9 ER on 16 H and 2 BB over 12.0 IP).  He got back on track yesterday against the Cardinals, allowing 1 ER on 9 H and 1 BB, striking out 5, over 7.0 IP and now owns a 3.40 ERA and 1.15 WHIP over 50.1 IP.  He continues to show elite control (he entered the day with a 1.66 BB/9), but he hasn’t shown much in strikeouts (6.65 K/9 entering the day) or groundballs (40.5% before 7 groundballs vs. 9 fly balls yesterday).  That’s not to say that he won’t continue to be a usable option, but starts like this one likely won’t be the norm.  He’s a solid option to fill out your rotation, nut he’s not someone to trust or expect continued ace-like performances.

7) German Marquez shows that he can tame Coors Field…
There’s always a risk with any Colorado starting pitcher, and given Marquez’ split entering the day (5.87 ERA at home, 1.55 on the road) it was a fair concern for Marquez as well.  However he pitched well, both before the big lead and after it, as he allowed 2 ER on 10 H and 0 BB, striking out 7, over 5.2 IP.  He now owns a 3.43 ERA overall and he entered the day showing all of the skills that we look for from a pitcher (9.00 K/9, 2.08 BB/9, 53.2% groundball rate).  He had both the swing and miss stuff (17 swinging strikes) and groundballs (8 groundballs vs. 2 fly balls), showing that his stuff can play regardless of the locale.  There’s going to be the occasional bump, especially considering his home ballpark, but overly he’s proven that he is among the better options in the league.

8) Has Frankie Montas truly emerged as a must use option…
He settled for a no decision yesterday against the Indians, but that shouldn’t take away from his performance as he allowed 2 ER on 8 H and 1 BB, striking out 7, over 6.0 IP.  He now owns a 2.76 ERA and 1.26 WHIP over 45.1 IP, entering the day with an 8.01 K/9, 2.29 BB/9 and 51.7% groundball rate (he had 15 swinging strikes yesterday and generated 5 groundballs vs. 4 fly balls).  The skills are a significant jump forward across the board, and at least part of the reason could be attributed to the inclusion of a split finger fastball for the first time.  He entered the day throwing it 16.3% of the time, with opponents hitting just .208 against it.  There are various reasons to be skeptical about his upside, but this is as good of a reason as any to be buying in.  He may have turned the corner and should be considered a good buy in all formats.

9) Is another strong stretch coming for Joc Pederson…
He went 2-5 with 2 HR, 2 RBI and 2 R and now has 12 HR, 20 RBI and 25 R on the season.  Of course he’s hitting just .229 and this was his first multi-hit game since April 21.  He also continues to struggle against southpaws, albeit in a limited number of opportunities, as he’s hitting .167 with 0 HR and 7 K over 18 AB.  It’s not like he’s posted a strong average against righties, hitting .242, though the power has been there in terms of home runs.  The problem is that he’s shown little else in terms of extra base hits (1 double and 2 triples) and a 34.3% HR/FB is hardly maintainable.  Throw in a pull heavy approach (16.9% Oppo%) and there are ample reasons for pessimism.  Of course he should be able to improve upon a .183 BABIP, but is that really enough?  He’s more of a matchup play, and one that you can’t trust when there are a slew of southpaws on the schedule, but for those in daily formats who can plug him in there could be value.

10) Has the time come to buy into Alex Gordon…
We keep waiting for Gordon to stop hitting, but he hasn’t slowed down.  He went 2-4 with 2 HR, 3 RBI and 2 R yesterday, putting him at .291 with 8 HR, 30 RBI and 25 R on the season.  Of course there are questions as to whether or not he can maintain this type of power, with a 19.5% HR/FB that would represent a career best (he owns a 10.8% career mark).  He also is showing an improved SwStr% (8.6%, which also would be a career best), and a 13.1% strikeout rate is far better than his career 21.5% mark.  It’s been a great stretch, and one that you should ride while he’s producing, but given his track record is it really something you want to believe in?  That would appear to be misguided, so don’t become infatuated.

Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball

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