10 Important Stories from 05/14/19 Box Scores: Players To Consider Ditching (Soler, Freeland & More), Buy Low/Sell High Candidates (Paddack) & More

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Chris Sale appears to be “back”, despite having to settle for a no decision, as he allowed 2 ER on 3 H and 0 BB, striking out 17, over 7.0 IP against the Rockies (he now has 31 K over his past two starts and 10+ in four of his past five).  Josh Bell continued his monster stretch, going 2-4 with 2 HR, 4 RBI and 2 R (during his 14 game hitting streak he’s gone 24-57 with 6 HR, 21 RBI and 11 R).  Vladimir Guerrero Jr. finally delivered his breakout game, going 3-4 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) Jordan Luplow trying to earn full-time job…
The promotion of Oscar Mercado (0-3, 1 R) is going to get all of the attention, and rightfully so, but it’s the recent surge from Luplow that deserves some mentioning.  He went 2-3 with 2 HR, 3 RBI and 2 R yesterday, his second 2 HR game in the past week.  While both have come in starts against Manny 7 HR and 17 Banuelos, over his past six games he’s now gone 7-18 with 4 HR, 5 RBI and 6 R.  Is that enough to excite us, especially with 3 of the 4 HR coming against the same pitcher?  It’s hard, especially with 9 K over this stretch clouding the issue.  Ultimately we’d expect Mercado to emerge as one of the team’s best outfield options, along with Jake Bauers if they opt to play him there (he went 2-2 with 1 RBI, 1 R and 1 SB yesterday, though he was at 1B).  It’s a nice little streak from Luplow, but not enough to excite you.

2) How long of a leash will Jerad Eickhoff have…
Taking on the Brewers he allowed 5 ER on 8 H and 2 BB, striking out 2, over 4.0 IP.  It breaks a streak of three straight strong starts and it’s hardly enough of a reason to think he’s going to be removed from the rotation.  That said Nick Pivetta appears to be getting right in the minors and he could return at any time, so Eickhoff will need to rebound quickly or risk being bumped from the rotation again.  He now has 13 BB over 33.0 IP and home runs should continue to become an issue after he allowed his first 2 HR of the season yesterday (despite entering the day with a 39.4% groundball rate and generated 3 groundballs vs. 5 fly balls yesterday).  Those two things alone are going to create a significant regression, as will further regression in his luck metrics (.250 BABIP, 82.8% strand rate entering the day).  It was a nice stretch, but it may not be long before he’s out of the rotation.  Fantasy owners in need of a spot can feel free to move on.

3) Is there any reason to believe in a potential Kyle Freeland turn around…
Taking on the Red Sox in Boston yesterday he allowed 3 ER on 5 H and 3 BB, striking out 7, over 6.0 IP.  He did generate 18 swinging strikes, though that hasn’t been a constant (he entered with a 9.7% SwStr%), and more important is that he continued to show pedestrian control (3.63 BB/9) while struggling with home runs (3 HR yesterday, and he entered with a 1.81 HR/9).  He’s now allowed 9 HR over his past four starts, and entering the day with a 45.0% groundball rate (2 groundballs vs. 10 fly balls yesterday) doesn’t give the impression that he’ll be able to tame Coors Field.  A Rockies’ pitcher with lackluster control and home run issues?  It’s not a combination you are going to want to hang your hat on.  Maybe there’s a few better days ahead, but the risk far outweighs the reward.

4) Is it time to buy into Avisail Garcia…
He went 3-4 with 1 HR, 3 RBI and 1 R yesterday and is hitting .296 with 7 HR and 17 RBI over 135 AB on the season.  He has been particularly hot of late, with 3 HR over his past six games, and while he has been hitting the ball hard overall (44.7% Hard%) and there’s nothing particularly hard to believe in his power (19.4% HR/FB before yesterday), there are more than enough reasons to have doubts.  Can he maintain a .352 BABIP?  Can he be productive with a pull heavy approach (18.1% Oppo%)?  Can he overcome horrific plate discipline (20.2% SwStr%, 40.9% O-Swing%)?  Maybe he can, but there is also a very good chance that the production falls off a cliff in short order.  Ride him while he’s producing, and then be ready to move on.

5) Mike Foltynewicz continues to take it on the chin…
The Cardinals torched him for 3 HR yesterday, as he allowed 8 ER on 7 H and 3 BB, striking out 4, over 4.2 IP.  He now owns an unsightly 8.02 ERA as he’s allowed 8 HR over his four starts while posting 14 K vs. 8 BB over 21.1 IP.  You can argue that there will be more strikeouts (he entered with a 10.7% SwStr% before 9 swinging strikes yesterday, an improvement over last year’s 10.3% mark that led to a 9.93 K/9) and his strand rate should improve (55.6% entering the day).  He’s never been an elite groundball pitcher, but his 32.1% entering the day (5 groundballs vs. 5 fly balls yesterday) should improve and with it should come fewer home runs allowed.  He may never be an ace and is going to fall short of last year’s production, but there are better days ahead as long as he’s healthy.  Buying low now makes sense, assuming the price is low enough.

6) Maybe focusing on hitting suits Shohei Ohtani just fine…
He went 3-4 with 1 RBI yesterday, his third straight multi-hit game (7-12, 1 HR, 4 RBI and 2 R).  The big question was if his rehabilitation on the mound would have an influence on his ability to hit, and obviously just a handful of games isn’t going to change that.  Obviously this is an extremely small sample size (28 AB), but he entered yesterday showing the same ability to hit the ball hard that he did last season (43.0% Hard% over his MLB career), while also showing an improved approach (10.8% SwStr%, 19.1% O-Swing%).  Obviously we’ll have to see more and let him maintain it for a longer stretch, but if he can continue down this path he’s going to have stellar numbers and be among the better hitting options from this point forward.  That’s not a given, but there’s a lot to like.

7) Is there reason to believe in Jorge Soler’s production…
He went 3-5 with 2 RBI and 1 R yesterday, putting him at .259 with 10 HR and 27 RBI over 158 AB.  Obviously the value hinges on his power, having entered the day with a 25.0% HR/FB (a leap over his career mark of 16.6%).  Even if you believe that he can maintain the surge, the rest of the metrics point towards a poor average (and one that could easily get worse).  He’s going to be subject to the shift (17.9% Oppo%) and continues to struggle making consistent contact (14.6% SwStr% helping to support a 31.0% strikeout rate).  Even if he can also maintain a .323 BABIP, which isn’t a given considering the Oppo% and a 46.2% groundball rate, he may be nothing more than a .240ish hitter.  In other words he may be a lesser Joey Gallo, and one whose power may not be impressive.  Does that sound like a player you want to be buying into?

8) Joe Musgrove rebounds in a big way…
He had struggled in back-to-back starts (13 ER over 5.2 IP), but he was spectacular yesterday against the Diamondbacks.  Going 7.0 shutout innings he allowed just 1 ER and 2 BB, striking out 5.  Even with that disastrous two start stretch Musgrove owns a 3.59 ERA and 1.11 WHIP over 47.2 IP on the season, and you can point towards a 56.8% strand rate as a reason for optimism.  Throw in hope that his strikeout rate could rise (11.6% SwStr%, 7.55 K/9) and there’s reason to buy.  At the same time does anyone believe in his 0.19 HR/9 and 2.2% HR/FB, especially given his relatively pedestrian 45.6% groundball rate (and 11.8% career HR/FB)?  That alone points towards a regression, and while he should continue to be a solid option just know that there are going to be some bumps along the way.

9) A stumble from Chris Paddack, so should we sell high…
While his defense didn’t help, that doesn’t excuse the 2 HR he allowed (Joc Pederson and Cody Bellinger took him deep).  Ultimately he allowed 6 R (3 earned) on 5 H and 1 BB, striking out 3.  It was his worst start to date, so now the question is if he’s going to rebound or if it’s the beginning of a trend.  No one is going to argue against how great he’s been, including an 11.7% SwStr% and 34.2% O-Swing% leading to a 9.73 K/9 and 2.18 BB/9.  The 8 swinging strikes yesterday is the aberration, he clearly has strong control and pitching half his games in San Diego is going to help.  That said a 0.79 HR/9 (42.2% groundball rate) could continue to rise and his .179 BABIP is going to regress (49.1% Hard%).  Throw in the potential shutdown later on and getting top dollar for him today makes sense.  Over the long haul he’s going to have significant value, but if you are playing for this season selling high makes sense.

10) Is Wilson Ramos finally waking up…
He went 1-3 with 1 HR, 4 RBI and 1 R yesterday, putting him at 3-8 with 1 HR and 5 RBI over his past two games.  Obviously it’s a relatively small blip on the radar, and there were concerns about him entering the season, so it will be interesting to see if he can continue to produce or not.  His groundball rate was already a red flag, so his current 63.2% mark is a significant concern.  Throw in a continued poor approach (12.1% SwStr%, 35.1% O-Swing%) and the expected drop in his BABIP (.280) and his overall lack of production makes sense.  Will he ultimately get hot and be a Top 15 catcher by year’s end?  It’s likely, but that doesn’t mean he should be considered an exciting option.

Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs

10 COMMENTS

  1. Daniel Murphy. Do you hold? He’s platooning. I could add Villar or pick up Polanco or F Reyes and move Bregman to MI.

    • I’d hold onto him for now. There’s too much potential and they are paying him too much to keep him in a platoon

  2. In a 14-team dynasty league and searching for steals, would you drop Bader for Nick Lopez? Thanks again, Professor.

    • Bader is a tough drop, especially since he has a higher upside overall than Lopez. Mercado not an option?

  3. In light of Garvers injury i looked into Castros numbers. He’s improved his BA over the past 3 years and his OPS is much better so far. His advanced metrics show increase in a few necessary stats including bb/k and hard contact. Babip is very low as well. Any thoughts?

    • Actually just picked him up in a league to replace Garver. Not sure he’s a long term solution, but well worth using while it’s going well

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