It was another busy day around the league, and we have you covered with some of the performances that stood out. Let’s take a look at what caught our eye from an exciting Sunday:
1) Chavis Drives in Five
At this point, as long as Michael Chavis is healthy, Boston’s second base issues don’t matter. The Red Sox have gone through quite a few options in the middle of the diamond, and after they struggled with both health and performance, Boston turned to the rookie. Chavis had a strong spring, and he has just built on that after his promotion. That continued on Sunday as the rookie drove in five runs against Seattle. On the heels of Chavis’ success, it is also a good sign that Rafael Devers has found his groove. The third baseman went 3 for 5 with his 12th double and 21st RBI of the season as he improved his batting average to .336 (.419 in his last 15 games). Following his three hit effort, Chavis is now batting .282 with 19 RBI on the season, and it’s clear that there is room for both infielders in Boston’s lineup.
2) Smith Goes Deep Again
Rebuilding teams give young players opportunities, and Dwight Smith Jr is taking care of his. Smith picked up another two hits on Sunday, and that included a two run shot for his eighth home run of the season. The outfielder is now hitting .286 with 27 RBI as he bats at the top Baltimore’s lineup. With a .303 BABIP, things look pretty for Smith continuing his performance, but we do need to keep an eye on that power production. From an RBI and runs scored perspective, batting at the top of the order works in Smith’s favor, but it remains unclear how sustainable his 16.7% home run rate is.
3) Giolito Cruises to His Fourth Victory
It seems like we end up here at least once a season, but we shouldn’t forget that Lucas Giolito used to be a top prospect. To this point in his career, the performance hasn’t matched the potential, but perhaps that will come in 2019? The right-hander was victorious on Sunday against the Blue Jays with seven innings of one run ball. Giolito limited Toronto to four runs and one walk while striking out eight batters. Toronto didn’t manage much in the way of solid contact against Giolito, a .235 BABIP, and his 4.42 xFIP from the outing suggests that there may have been some luck involved. On the season, Giolito’s ERA fell to 3.55 with a FIP of 3.05 (3.78 xFIP). Before we rush out to truly buy in on Giolito, it would be nice if he lowered his 3.79 walks per nine innings or if he generated more ground balls (35.5%). At the same time though, we are dealing with a talented pitcher here.
4) It Was an Easy Afternoon in Tampa Bay
So far this season we have been able to enjoy the fact that Masahiro Tanaka has been healthy. The right-hander dispatched Tampa Bay with relative ease as he picked up his third victory of the season. Tanaka limited the Rays to an Austin Meadows solo home run, it certainly is nice to see him back from the Injured List, and four other hits while striking out seven. With a 3.44 ERA, the overall results have been there, but Tanaka has allowed five runs twice so far this season. I wouldn’t go far enough to say that Tanaka qualifies as an ace, but he is a solid option just about every week.
5) Castellanos Shows Some Power
We know that the Detroit lineup isn’t what it used to be, but Nick Castellanos was slated to be a solid option in the middle of the order. The issue with Castellanos though, is that we really haven’t seen much in the way of power from him so far this season. True power was never his strong suit, but he hit just his third home run of the season yesterday. It was a three hit effort from Castellanos who is hitting a perfectly solid .278, but after driving in two runs on Sunday, he is up to just 12 RBI on the season. With 12 doubles, Castellanos is driving the ball, and with a track record of success, I would resist the urge to get overly concerned. Despite the lack in home runs, Castellanos’ exit velocity is the same as it was last season with an improved launch angle (17.1 from 15.2). I would try to buy low if possible.
6) Now That’s a Debut
As the Astros swept the Rangers in a four game series, their bats certainly were awake yesterday. George Springer went deep two more times on Sunday to bring his season total up to 15 while Alex Bregman also picked up two more home runs. But the focus should be on Corbin Martin who made his major league debut. With the move of Colin McHugh to the bullpen, it appears that Martin is now a part of Houston’s rotation, and based on his performance yesterday, he has earned the right to stay. Lifted after 80 pitches, 49 strikes, Martin allowed two runs on three hits one walk. Martin continued to build on his minor league success as he struck out nine and looked downright un-hittable at times. Velocity in the high-90’s doesn’t seem to be an issue for Martin and Texas had a hard time squaring him up.
7) Another Happy Debut
We also had an under the radar debut in Kansas City, as Cole Irvin took the mound. In his first major league appearance, the 25-year old threw seven innings of one run ball. In 394.1 minor league innings, Irvin has a career 2.78 ERA and 1.11 WHIP. Irvin didn’t overpower hitters, 309 strikeouts, but he did get results and has plenty of Triple-A experience. Despite his initial success, Irvin struck out five batters on Sunday, his role in the rotation is tenuous with Nick Pivetta lurking. Irvin is worth a minimal investment as a streaming option in deeper leagues, but it’s hard to ignore a start like that.
8) A Career Year for Bell
There really is no other way to describe what is happening for Josh Bell so far in 2019. We always knew that he was a talented hitter, but this season, things are really coming together for the first baseman. When Bell hit 26 home runs and drove in 90 runs in 2017, it was a pretty good indication of what he is capable of, but last season he took a step back. This season, Bell is building on his 2017 success, and Sunday was a big day for him. Bell had a perfect day at the plate going 4 for 4 with a walk while driving five runs and scoring three times. He finished a triple short of the cycle, and Bell is now at 13 doubles, 10 home runs, and 34 RBI to go along with a .319 batting average. As far as the StatCast metrics go, Bell is at the top of all the leader boards in all categories and far above his levels from last season. That is no more apparent than Bell’s 53.9% hard hit hit rate.
9) Keep Him in the Lineup
We know all about the Rockies and their reluctance to use their young players, but things have been going well for Raimel Tapia as of late. The newfound power is interesting for the outfielder as he hit his fifth home run of the season yesterday. Thus far in his career, the most Tapia has in a season is 10 home runs, so it might be safe not to bank on any consistent power from the outfielder. After all, yesterday was just Tapia’s second home run in his last 15 games. Batting sixth, Tapia was 3 for 4 with two RBI and two runs scored while raising his average to .313. With 18 RBI, Tapia has turned into a run producer, and batting sixth certainly helps. As long as Tapia continues to have a similar level of success, even the Rockies can’t take him out of the lineup.
10) Ryu Strikes Again
I feel like this is become a reoccurring them here bringing up Hyun-Jin Ryu, but his performance truly dictates it. Yesterday, Ryu flirted with no-hitter and finished the day with eight shutout innings. Ultimately, Washington managed just one hit and one walk off the southpaw who struck out nine while bringing his ERA down to 1.72. Perhaps the most impressive stat about Ryu, is that he has walked just three batters all season while striking out 54 batters in 52.1 innings. Ryu has allowed just 10 runs on 32 hits through his eight starts, as he has not given up more than two runs in a start. And a 2.48 xFIP means that we can feel comfortable with Ryu’s performance, but his health and workload will remain a nagging question in the back of your mind.