10 Important Stories from 05/21/19 Box Scores: Identifying Pitchers Worth Selling (Strahm & More), Buying Opportunities (Rodriguez/Profar) & More

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It was a great rebound performance for German Marquez, tossing 8.0 shutout innings against the Pirates allowing 3 H and 1 BB, striking out 7.  It was a dominant start from Justin Verlander, as he allowed 1 ER on 1 H and 1 BB, striking out 12, over 8.0 IP to defeat the White Sox.  Clayton Kershaw defeated Tampa Bay, allowing 2 ER on 6 H and 1 BB, striking out 8, over 6.1 IP.  What else happened on the field that you need to know about?  Let’s take a look:

1) Just how real is the resurgence from Jurickson Profar…
He went 1-1 with 1 HR, 1 RBI and 1 R yesterday (he also walked once and was hit by a pitch twice), giving him home runs in back-to-back games (and 3 HR in his past six games) as well as a modest four game hitting streak (7-13, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 3 R).  Profar is hitting .205 with 7 HR, 26 RBI, 21 R and 3 SB overall, and even during the struggles he continued to show a solid approach (entering the day with an 8.3% SwStr% and 34.3% O-Swing%) while also hitting the ball hard (39.7% Hard%).  A slight decline in his Oppo% (27.3% to 24.1%) and a huge spike in his popup rate (24.5%, though we’d anticipate that improving) doesn’t justify his meager .200 BABIP and his power resembles last year’s mark (11.3% HR/FB, compared to 13.2% last season).  In other words everything points to him continuing to improve and with the window to buy low quickly closing now is the time to pull the trigger (if it’s not already too late).

2) What to make of Zach Eflin and his “breakout”…
Taking on the Cubs he allowed 1 ER on 6 H and 4 BB, striking out 2, over 6.0 IP.  While he only allowed 1 ER the 10 base runners wasn’t ideal and he’s now allowed 13 H and 6 BB over 11.0 IP over his past two starts.  Granted over 62.0 IP he owns a 2.76 ERA and 1.15 WHIP, so you would think that he’d have value moving forward.  While he control has been elite (13 BB), his 7.23 K/9 entering the day (behind a 10.1% SwStr%, with just 6 swinging strikes yesterday) and an inability to generate many groundballs (44.8% groundball rate entering the day, before 7 groundballs vs. 9 fly balls) bring questions to two of the three skills we look for.  His 29.4% Hard% brings hope, but if he can’t improve in one of the two there could be a significant regression in his BABIP (.272) and strand rate (83.3%).  There’s a good chance that the numbers take a significant step backwards, and that means he’s impossible to trust.

3) Is it time to give up on Chris Archer…
We could give him a pass for a poor start in his first outing off the DL (6 ER over 3.2 IP), but he struggled again yesterday allowing 4 R (3 earned) on 6 H and 2 BB, striking out 3, over 5.0 IP against the Rockies.  He wasn’t generating many groundballs (4 groundballs vs. 9 fly balls), and with the HR he allowed to Trevor Story he’s now allowed 7 HR over 35.2 IP on the season.  He’s also had control issues (4.70 BB/9 entering the day), and with poor results coupled with an inflated Hard% (37.8% entering the day) it’s hard to get excited.  Generally he’s shown more in terms of his groundball rate (45.3% for his career, 32.9% entering the day) and control (2.99 career BB/9), and maybe once he’s fully healthy and over his DL stint the velocity will return (93.2 mph, down from 94.8 for his career).  That’s enough of a reason to keep him stashed on your bench, because there is upside, but for now that’s where he belongs.

4) Clint Frazier erupts from his slump with a power surge…
He had struggled since returning from the DL, hitting .209 with 0 HR over 40 AB, with 15 K vs. 3 BB while hitting just 1 double.  He made us all forget with a big performance against the Orioles yesterday, going 2-4 with 2 HR, 5 RBI and 2 R.  Maybe there was an issue with his timing coming off the DL, though that was a lengthy stretch of struggles to simply chalk it up to that.  There was always the risk of regression, with a 26.1% HR/FB in April and a chance for his strikeout rate to balloon (13.8% SwStr% in April, though just a 21.9% strikeout rate.  Does the one big game make us forget about those risks?  It shouldn’t, and while it’s possible he catches fire again there also is the risk of falling back into the slump (and losing playing time once everyone is healthy).  Keep that in mind moving forward.

5) Does the awful start from Eduardo Rodriguez open a buying opportunity…
We keep waiting for him to right the ship, but it was a miserable start against the Blue Jays yesterday allowing 6 ER on 6 H and 3 BB, striking out 5, over 5.0 IP.  He was torched for three home runs, with Rowdy Tellez (2-5, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 2 R) doing the bulk of the damage.  It was an interesting turn, as he had actually gone five straight games without allowing a home run though he now owns an ugly 5.43 ERA and 1.46 WHIP.  Yesterday’s issues scream of an aberration, as he entered the day with a 10.15 K/9 (behind a 13.2% SwStr%), 2.90 BB/9 and 45.8% groundball rate.  He’s never been an ideal groundball pitcher (1 groundballs vs. 8 fly balls yesterday), but his 26.4% Hard% doesn’t support a .364 BABIP and 65.3% strand rate.  He’s now posted back-to-back poor starts, after seemingly turning a corner, and it’s created an ideal buying opportunity.  There should be better days ahead, so kick the tires and see how low of a price tag there is.

6) Sonny Gray finally warns a W…
He tossed 6.0 shutout innings against the Brewers, allowing 5 H and 4 BB while striking out 9.  His control has been inconsistent (he has 12 BB over his past 20.1 IP), though is that enough of a reason to avoid him?  He entered the day with a 9.82 K/9, though there is risk of him maintaining such a bloated mark (9.8% SwStr%, and even yesterday he had 13 swinging strikes).  He has been a groundball machine (54.8% entering the day, before 6 groundballs vs. 1 fly ball yesterday), and as long as he can maintain a strikeout rate in the 8.0-8.5 range there’s going to be enough of a reason to believe.  There’s some risk, but there also is ample reward and he’s going to have value.

7) Another impressive start from Lance Lynn, but are we believing…
Taking on the Mariners he allowed 2 ER on 5 H and 1 BB, striking out 11, over 7.0 IP.  He’s now allowed 3 ER or fewer in three straight starts (6 ER over 21.0 IP), lowering his ERA from 5.75 to 4.67.  Over this stretch he has 24 K vs. 3 BB, and while it’s an impressive start (and an impressive outing) he still entered the day with a 41.1% Hard%, 9.1% SwStr% (he had 16 swinging strikes yesterday) and a 39.6% groundball rate (he had 3 groundballs vs. 6 fly balls yesterday).  Unless he starts generating more groundballs there are going to be home run questions, especially pitching half his games in Texas, and there are going to be questions about maintaining this type of strikeout rate.  Does that sound like a combination you want to trust completely?

8) Can Marwin Gonzalez make a difference moving forward…
With Miguel Sano returning Gonzalez has had some trouble finding his way into the lineup, despite producing at the plate.  He hadn’t played since May 18, but he was slotted in at DH yesterday ad went 2-5 with 1 HR, 3 RBI and 2 R and now has an 11-game hitting streak (17-45 with 3 HR, 8 RIB and 12 R.  You would think, given his versatility and the way he’s been hitting, that the Twins would find a way to keep his bat in the lineup on the daily basis.  His groundball rate is a little bit inflated (50.5%) and you could argue that he’s pulling the ball a little bit too much (21.5% Oppo%), but he’s hitting the ball hard (40.2% Hard%) and he’s showing enough of an approach (9.9% SwStr%, 29.0% O-Swing%).  Obviously .255 with 5 HR isn’t going to blow you away, but he should be able to produce at least a solid average with a little bit of pop.  He’s a must use while he’s going well, though the lack of playing time recently (even while he’s been hitting) is a little bit of a concern

9) Matt Strahm gets the W, but should we be buying what they are selling…
He allowed 2 ER on 4 H and 0 BB, striking out 2, over 6.0 IP to defeat the Diamondbacks.  Over his 9 starts (50.0 IP) he owns an impressive 3.06 ERA and 1.12 WHIP behind elite control (1.44 BB/9), but is that enough?  He hasn’t generated enough strikeouts (7.38 K/9), and a 9.2% SwStr% doesn’t indicate that there’s upside in the mark.  He also has lacked groundballs, with a 35.1% mark, and even pitching half his games in San Diego that could lead to home run issues (1.08 HR/9) and we saw that yesterday with 2 HR allowed.  Throw in a 45.8% Hard% and the benefit of some luck (.286 BABIP, 81.4% strand rate) and there’s reason to believe that things will go south in a hurry.  There’s value, but he also isn’t a player to fully trust for the remainder of the season.  Depending on the format, selling high could make sense.

10) Could Erick Fedde develop into a viable option…
Granted it was against the Mets (who ultimately capitalized on the shaky Washington bullpen), but he was impressive allowing 1 ER on 1 H and 1 BB, striking out 1, over 5.0 IP in a no decision.  He had been working out of the bullpen, so he was pulled after 61 pitches, and it’s easy to forget that he had once been a promising pitching prospect coming up through Washington’s system (especially since he hasn’t shown it in the Majors before).  It’s obviously just one start and the lack of strikeouts is going to be a concern, but he showed the promise in the minors including an 8.8 K/9 and 2.3 BB/9.  It’s possible that he puts it all together and makes an impact in the Majors, so keep him on your radar and see how things develop.

Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs, Baseball Reference

7 COMMENTS

    • i’m going Odor of the three. I still believe in Cano (though it’s getting tougher) and I like Profar, but Odor has the highest upside and he’s starting to warm up

  1. Hey Prof,

    I picked up Aledyms Diaz the day before he hurt his hanstring for when he was hot, ge returned yesterday and I’m wondering if you think I should drop him for Profar? Currently either would be a bench player for me until they got hot but would you make the swap with Altuve returning soon?

  2. Well, after all my consternation, it appears Mercado has worked his way into a full time player. He’s still sitting on the waiver wire after I dropped him. The only player I can drop to add him back would be Gregory Polanco. I know you’re high on Polanco (I actually pay attention), so now I’d like to ask if you’d rather keep him or have Mercado instead (H2H points redraft).
    Currently my OF (4 man) is Soto, Benintendi (undroppable), F. Reyes, and Eloy Jimenez, with Polanco as bench player.

    • I love Mercado, but I still think Polanco’s upside is going to be greater and he’s not going to be better than your starting 4 anyways. I’d just stay the course

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