10 Important Stories from 05/18/19 Box Scores: Are We Buying These Breakouts (Buxton & More), Should We Trust The Youngsters (Senzel/Riley) & More

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Stephen Strasburg dominated the Cubs, allowing 2 R (1 earned) on 4 H and 0 BB, striking out 7, over 8.0 IP.  It was yet another monster day for Josh Bell, who is showing no signs of slowing down, as he went 3-4 with 2 HR, 4 RBI and 2 R.  Steven Matz made his return from the IL, though it wasn’t pretty, allowing 2 ER on 5 H and 2 BB, striking out 6, over 3.2 IP against the Marlins.  What else happened on the field that we need to know about?  Let’s take a look:

1) Should we be buying into the Leury Garcia breakout…
The game was called after 5.0 innings due to rain, but that didn’t stop Garcia from leaving an impression as he went 1-3 with 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R and 1 SB.  He’s now hitting .285 with 2 HR, 15 RBI, 30 R and 7 SB over 151 AB so it’s obviously easy to get excited.  At the same time, while there is some speed is anyone really believing his .369 BABIP entering the day (especially considering a 25.7% Hard%)?  How about the production given the relatively poor approach, with a 13.5% SwStr% and 38.7% O-Swing%?  Stolen bases are going to be the biggest attraction, but if the average is likely to fall and considering he’s unable to draw a walk (3.8%) just how many opportunities will he actually get to run?  Use him while he’s rolling, but don’t get infatuated.  There’s a good chance the bottom falls out before long.

2) Has Aaron Nola finally figured things out…
Taking on the Rockies he showed sign of being the dominant pitcher that everyone expected him to be, allowing 1 ER on 8 H and 1 BB, striking out 12, over 6.0 IP.  While he obviously allowed a few more hits than we would like to see, he’s now allowed 1 ER in four of his past five starts (and 3 ER or fewer in six straight bringing his ERA down from 7.45 to 4.47.  He obviously still has a long way to go, given his 1.55 WHIP and laundry list of concerning metrics (entering the day):

  • Hard% – 33.3%
  • HR/FB – 22.5%
  • SwStr% – 8.2% (he did have 15 swinging strikes yesterday)
  • Groundball Rate – 45.9% (2 groundballs vs. 4 fly balls)

With his control also inconsistent, it’s going to take more than one strong start to convince us he’s fully “back”.

3) A strong 2019 debut for the Indians’ Adam Plutko…
Filling one of the spots due to the slew of injuries Plutko was solid, albeit against the Orioles, as he allowed 1 ER on 1 H and 2 BB, striking out 4, over 6.0 IP.  Of course he wasn’t getting many swinging strikes (9), not was he a groundball machine (5 groundballs vs. 8 fly balls).  Before we get excited let’s not forget that he struggled to generate groundballs yesterday both in the Majors (26.8%) and at Triple-A (27.8%) and in the Majors he didn’t get many swinging strikes (8.5%) and was hit relatively hard (35.5% Hard%).  Home runs will be an issue (Trey Mancini took him deep yesterday) and he may not post many strikeout.  It’s simply not a profile you want to invest in.

4) What to make of Nick Senzel and his struggles…
It was another subpar performance for Senzel, who went 1-4 with 1 R yesterday while hitting out of the leadoff spot.  He’s now slashing .238/.314/.429 with 3 HR and 4 SB over his first 15 games.  Obviously no one is about to raise the panic flag over such a small sample size, especially since he entered the day showing a strong approach (7.5% SwStr%, 22.7% O-Swing%) showing that his 17 K may be more of an aberration.  He also had been showing a willingness to use the entire field (36.4% Oppo%) while also hitting the ball relatively had (36.4% Hard%), meaning a .268 BABIP should also improve.  Everything supports a hot streak coming, so don’t lose hope now.

5) Pablo Lopez puts on a dominant outing against the Mets…
New York is reeling, and Lopez capitalized on it (though that shouldn’t take away from the impressive performance).  Going 7.0 shutout innings he allowed 1 H and 2 BB, striking out 7.  He did a good job of inducing groundballs (9 groundballs vs. 4 fly balls), something he’s consistently been showing having entered the day with a 51.7% groundball rate.  Couple that with strikeouts and control (49 K vs. 13 BB over 48.0 IP) and there’s reason to believe, despite the still disappointing 5.06 ERA.  He entered the day suffering from a .325 BABIP and 58.8% strand rate, so there’s reason to believe the good times will continue.  If someone in your league gave up on him, don’t be afraid to swoop in and grab him.

6) What to make of Corbin Martin’s disappointing performance…
Granted it came against Boston, but the Astros spotted him to a 5 R lead in the top of the first and Martin still couldn’t get through five innings to qualify for the W.  Lasting just 4.0 IP he allowed 3 R (2 earned) on 5 H and 4 BB, striking out 0.  He got just 2 swinging strikes, as he clearly wasn’t fooling anyone.  Control was a question in his 24.1 IP at Triple-A this season (4.07 BB/9) and he also wasn’t a groundball machine.  He’s given up 2 HR over 9.1 IP in the Majors, and pitching in Houston that could continue to be an issue.  That’s not to say that we should write him off because the upside is there, but you do need to proceed with caution and see how things progress.  There’s high risk, but there also is significant reward if he continues to get an opportunity and turns it around.

7) Can Austin Riley continue to make such a big impact…
He went 2-3 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 1 R yesterday, giving him three straight multi-hit games (and hits in all four games since being promoted (8-15 with 2 HR and 4 RBI).  While he hasn’t drawn a walk yet, he’s only struck out 3 times and had an 11.1% walk rate over his 162 PA at Triple-A prior to his recall.  Obviously it’s a small sample size and it’s hard to expect him to maintain the power he’s shown thus far this season (he’s now hit 17 HR over 156 AB between Triple-A and the Majors), but there is some thunder in his bat.  Even if the strikeouts rise (and they likely will), he’s going to remain a productive option and should lock himself into an every day job even once Ender Inciarte is ready to return.  He’s going to be a popular FAAB target today, and he’s definitely worth spending the cash on.

8) Should Bryan Reynolds be on our radars…
He went 1-3 with 1 HR, 1 RBI and 1 R yesterday, his second straight game with a home run, and the switch hitter appears to be getting regular playing time (along with Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco).  Overall he’s hitting .310 with 3 HR and 8 RBI, after hitting .367 with 5 HR over 49 AB at Triple-A this year.  It is possible that his power is developing, but he entered the day showing an atrocious approach at the plate (13.3% SwStr%, 43.7% O-Swing%) and is unlikely to maintain a 51.0% Hard% or .388 BABIP.  He seems to be catching fire and while he’s getting regular AB he’s worth rolling with, but a slump could quickly come and then the AB could disappear (with Melky Cabrera waiting in the wings).  There’s upside, but especially in redraft formats don’t expect him to be a difference maker.

9) Griffin Canning shuts down Kansas City to earn the W…
He tossed 7.0 shutout innings allowing 3 H and 1 BB, striking out 5, to improve to 2-1 with a 3.80 ERA and 1.08 WHIP over 21.1 IP.  It was by far his best start in the Majors and a huge improvement from the 3 HR he allowed to the Orioles his previous time out, and he also racked up a solid 16 swinging strikes.  Getting swings and misses haven’t been the problem in the Majors, but home runs can continue to be an issue (41.5% groundball rate at Triple-A prior to his promotion, 37.% entering the day and 6 groundballs vs. 10 fly balls yesterday), and when coupled with pedestrian control that could help to cap his upside appeal.  That’s not to say that there isn’t value, just know his limitations and the fact that there’s going to be some inconsistency.

10) The breakout of Byron Buxton continues…
There were a lot of storylines from the Twins’ 18-4 win, like Jose Berrios failing to go 5.0 innings to get the W (4.2 IP, 4 ER, 8 H, 0 BB, 6 K) and Jonathan Schoop (3-5, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 2 R) and C.J. Cron (3-6, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 3 R) enjoying monster games.  It is Buxton’s performance that is the biggest, going 2-4 with 1 HR, 5 RBI and 2 R, putting him at .281 with 4 HR, 24 RBI, 24 R and 8 SB over 139 AB.  He’s now homered in three of his past four games (10 RBI over this span).  Before we get overly excited he entered the day showing the typical poor approach we’ve become accustomed to (14.0% SwStr%, 36.7% O-Swing%), he’s still not hitting the ball overly hard (32.7% Hard%) and has suddenly take a fly ball-centric approach (51.5%).  Obviously we all know the upside in his talent and the potential for him to put it all together, but we need to see more before we fully buy in.  We’ll take a more in-depth look at him shortly, but for now consider him as a player to buy, but take a cautious approach.

Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs

6 COMMENTS

  1. Professor,
    Please help rank following OFs in H2H points:

    Kole Calhoun, Verdugo, Willie Calhoun, G. Polanco,

    Thx in advance,
    T

    • I’d go:

      Polanco
      W. Calhoun
      Verdugo
      K. Calhoun

      Of course this comes down to playing time a bit for W. Calhoun, as Texas has been rotating everyone in the short-term.

  2. Do you think Hunter Dozier is falling back to Earth or is his performance the last two weeks just normal waxing & waning over the course of a season?

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