10 Important Stories from 05/22/19 Box Scores: Buying These Breakouts (Jimenez, Montas & More), Others To Avoid (Almora) & More

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It was a miserable start from Luis Castillo, a rarity this season, as he allowed 4 ER on 5 H and 3 BB, striking out 2, over 2.2 IP.  Gleyber Torres delivered his second multi-home run game in his past three (and third in his past eight games), going 2-5 with 2 HR, 2 RBI and 2 R.  Neither Max Scherzer (6.0 IP, 0 R, 4 H, 2 BB, 9 K) or Jacob deGrom (6.0 IP, 1 R, 2 H, 3 BB, 8 K) were spectacular, but both delivered solid performances in a good pitcher’s duel.  What else happened on the field that we need to know about?  Let’s take a look:

1) Are we buying the breakout of Frankie Montas…
Taking on the Indians he tossed 6.0 shutout innings allowing 5 H and 2 BB, striking out 9.  He was getting ample swinging strikes (18), after entering the day with an 11.4% SwStr% and 36.0% O-Swing%.  As we’ve noted before the improvement corresponds to utilizing a split-finger fastball for the first time in his career (16.7% of the time entering the day).  Armed with the new wrinkle he now owns a 2.40 ERA and 1.13 WHIP over his first 10 starts (60.0 IP), as he’s produced strikeouts (8.67 K/9 entering the day, but there’s more upside), control (1.83 BB/9) and groundballs (53.5%).  Throw in that he actually entered the day with a .303 BABIP and 71.9% strand rate, meaning there is the potential for better luck, and it would appear like this is for real.  We are definitely buying, as Montas has the makings of a Top 25 starter (or better) right now.

2) Is there any reason to hang on to Merrill Kelly…
Calling it a miserable performance would be an understatement, as the Padres got Kelly for 4 ER on 5 H and 4 BB over just 1.2 IP.  He now owns a 4.75 ERA and 1.55 WHIP over 53.0 IP as he’s been wildly inconsistent.  He was coming off 5.1 shutout innings against the Giants in his last outing, but he also wasn’t far removed from allowing 7 ER over 4.0 IP to the Tampa Bay Rays.  Having entered the day with pedestrian marks in his strikeout rate (7.01 K/9 courtesy of a 9.1% SwStr%), walk rate (3.16 BB/9) and groundball rate (40.5%), as well as benefitting from a bit of luck (.301 BABIP, 79.6% strand rate despite a 38.4% Hard%), and it’s hard to get excited.  Maybe he figures it out and starts to string together a few good starts, but unless you’re in a deeper format it’s easy to cut bait and move on.

3) Is Daniel Murphy slowly showing signs of heating up…
He went 2-5 with 1 HR, 3 RBI and 1 R yesterday, giving him back-to-back games with an extra base hit.  It obviously isn’t much, but considering how bad his season has gone (he’s hitting .190 with 3 HR over 79 AB) it’s not going to take much in order to get our hopes up.  While he has continued to make consistent contact (6.1% SwStr%), he entered the day putting the ball in the air too much 48.4% and struggling to hit the ball with consistent authority (25.8% Hard%, 9.7% line drive rate).  Those two things are going to drag down his BABIP, but does anyone really believe in a .183?  How about a 6.7% HR/FB, while playing half his games in Coors Field?  There are concerns in his numbers, but he’s better than this and we all know it.  This should be just the start of things to come.

4) Should we be all aboard the Rick Porcello train…
It came against the Blue Jays, but he allowed 1 ER on 3 H and 0 BB, striking out 4, over 6.0 IP as he settled for a no decision.  Obviously a 4.45 ERA isn’t going to excite anyone, but considering his 11.12 ERA over his first three starts it’s a definite step in the right direction (3 ER or fewer in six of his past seven starts).  That said he continues to struggle generating a significant number of strikeouts (he has a 8.2% SwStr%, he had 10 swinging strikes yesterday, leading to a 7.46 K/9) and he also has failed to keep the ball in the ballpark (1.59 HR/9).  Lack of strikeouts plus home run issues?  That’s not a combination you should be looking to invest heavily in.  Maybe he’s a streaming option, but not much else.

5) Brian Anderson homers for the second straight game…
He went 1-4 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 1 R (over his past two games he’s gone 3-8 with 2 HR, 4 RBI and 2 R).  It’s been a pleasant surprise, considering he still has just 4 HR to go along with a .234 average.  So is this a hot streak or just an aberration?  The power is right in line with what he did last season (9.8% HR/FB, compared to an 8.3% last season), it’s the average where things should improve.  He owns a 40.3% Hard% and is using the entire field (31.0% Oppo%), yet owns a .288 BABIP.  Even with his approach taking a step backwards (13.0% SwStr%, 31.3% O-Swing%) you would think that there would be better days ahead.  He may never hit for enough power to be a true difference maker, but there’s enough potential upside to make him worth owning in deeper formats.

6) Michael Wacha takes one on the chin…
While the Cardinals dominated the Royals in the second game of the double header (a 10-3 victory featuring 4 HR), the first game didn’t go as well as they lost 8-2.  Wacha struggled in the start, allowing 7 R (6 earned) on 7 H and 3 BB, striking out 4, over 4.2 IP and now owns an ugly 5.59 ERA and 1.69 WHIP over 46.2 IP.  It’s the third time in his past four starts that he’s allowed at least 4 ER and his longest outing has been just 6.0 IP (which he’s done twice in nine starts).  His control has been awful (5.59 BB/9) and he’s continued to struggle keeping the ball in the ballpark (1.74 HR/9, with a 42.6% groundball rate).  Maybe he improves in those two categories, but will it be enough to create a viable option?  That’s a stretch, especially as he’s been hit consistently hard (40.6% Hard%).  Don’t let the name suck you in, because the value isn’t there.

7) Is Albert Almora developing into a viable option…
He went 1-4 with 1 HR, 4 RBI and 1 R yesterday, putting him at .275 with 5 HR and 18 RBI over 138 AB on the season.  He’s now hit 3 HR over his past eight games and overall is hitting .290 with 4 HR in May.  That’s going to open some eyes, and his overall development in cutting the swings and misses (9.6% SwStr% this season, down from 11.6% in his career) is a key development.  At the same time he continues to chase outside the strike zone far too much (37.6% O-Swing%), has taken a pull heavy approach (22.2% Oppo%) and has buried the ball into the ground far too much (58.4% groundball rate).  That hasn’t changed in May (20.0% Oppo%, 56.1% groundball rate), so it’s hard to get excited.  Ride the wave while it’s going well, but don’t fully buy in.

8) Eloy Jimenez erupts for a big day at the dish…
There have been fantasy owners clamoring to give up on him, even now that he’s returned from the IL, but he showed you why you shouldn’t make that mistake yesterday.  He went 2-4 with 2 HR, 2 RBI and 3 R, including one of two home runs against a surprisingly poor Gerrit Cole (5.0 IP, 6 ER, 7 H, 1 BB, 7 K).  He’s still hitting just .233 with 5 HR overall, and he has 5 K in 10 AB in his three games since returning from the IL.  That said we all knew that there would be an adjustment period (just as there has been for Vladimir Guerrero Jr.) and that there was no questioning the power potential.  As he settles in the Hard% (26.7%) should improve, as will the approach (15.6% SwStr%, 37.9% O-Swing%).  He may be more of a .250ish hitter at this point in his career, but if it comes with 30+ HR power that’ll still play.  This could just be the start of a strong stretch, so don’t give up now.

9) Another impressive start from Max Fried…
Taking on the Giants Fried was in control, allowing 2 ER on 4 H and 2 BB, striking out 5, over 6.0 IP as he was consistently getting opposing hitters to bury the ball into the ground (9 groundballs vs. 2 fly balls).  He now owns a 2.88 ERA and 1.12 WHIP over 56.1 IP as he’s generated enough strikeouts (8.15 K/9) to go along with great control (2.08 BB/9) and an incredibly strong groundball rate (55.7%).  There is reason to expect a regression to come, especially considering a 38.3% Hard%, .277 BABIP and 83.0% strand rate.  Can he maintain this type of elite control?  Can he continue to get “lucky”?  Even with a regression it’s not like the control will waver completely (he’s not going to be a 5.00 BB/9 type) and the groundball rate should keep him as a strong option.  He may take a step backwards, and we wouldn’t be opposed to selling depending on the return, but he should maintain solid value moving forward.

10) Keston Hiura shows off a little bit of power…
He went 1-5 with 1 HR, 1 RBI and 1 R, just a small part of a game that featured 20 R and 24 H.  Hiura hasn’t produced quite as some had hoped, though he is hitting .273 with 2 HR (and they have come in his past three games, 2 RBI and 3 R over 33 AB.  Obviously there’s been some production, but he hasn’t added any additional extra base hits and he’s struggled with his approach (13 K vs. 1 BB).  Prior to his recall he had 12 doubles, 1 triple and 11 HR, so there is upside in that regard, but he also owned a 27.2% strikeout rate.  Considering his ugly 20.4% SwStr% the strikeouts will likely continue (he had 3 K yesterday), something he needs to improve upon before truly producing at the highest level.  Will the Brewers stick with him, even once Travis Shaw returns?  Time will tell, but he’s not guaranteed to stick in the Majors so keep that in mind.

Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs

4 COMMENTS

  1. Professor, I have been offered an interesting deal in a 5×5 standard keeper league: I would be receiving Javier Baez and Ausin Riley for Vlad Jr. and Strasburg. I am leaning towards not taking the deal – Vlad’s upside is something I want to experience but certainly a sound offer. Thoughts?

    • I’d stick with the Vlad side as well, though it could be argued either way. That said, depending on the # of keepers, I’m not sure Riley is a keeper for next year and Vlad should be the best player by 2020

  2. I just traded for Xander Bogaerts/Diego Castillo & Ty Buttrey for Javy Baez in a 14tm league w/ holds. I wanted to upgrade 2B having Corey Seager as well at short. What are your thoughts on the deal.

    • I think you could’ve probably gotten a better (more trustworthy) kicker along with Bogaerts considering the value many hold for Baez. It’s not an awful return though (and I actually prefer Bogaerts), but you may have not quite gotten back full value.

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