We started the day off with a lot of offense, and it ended up being a pretty exciting Thursday of baseball. However, since it was getaway day and there was just one true evening game, we were also able to get to bed early. Well that, or spend the time doing something other than watching baseball.
And yes, I know how crazy that just sounded. With that being said, let’s jump into some of the performances that caught our eye:
1) You Can Go Home Again
Well, at least for one game that is. Carlos Gomez began his career as a Mets prospect, was almost traded back in 2015, but here he is again. New York added a number of veteran, depth, pieces this off-season, and yesterday Gomez paid off in a big way. Thanks to injuries, the Mets essentially don’t have a starting outfield, so Gomez certainly has an opportunity. He has been slow to take advantage of that, but we saw what he is capable of on Thursday, and it is worth taking a look at to see if it continues. Gomez was 2 for 3 with a walk yesterday to bring his average up to .188, but it was his three run homer in the eighth inning that stands out. Gomez also stole a base, and we know that the Mets are going to ride the hot hand, so pay it a little bit of attention.
2) Bell Just Isn’t Going to Stop
For all of those questions and criticisms surrounding Josh Bell and his 12 home runs last season, the first baseman is doing more than just answering them. He is slamming them shut just like the 16 home runs he has so far this season; including a solo shot on Thursday. Not only is Bell is hitting home runs, but the balls he is hitting are not leaving any doubts about the power behind them, and we can’t call them flukes. Bell has brought his launch angle up to 10 degrees, a gradual rise, but everything else is off the charts when it comes to StatCast. So far this season, Bell has an 18.9% barrel rate (more than double last season) to go along with a 96 mile per hour exit velocity and an off the charts 59.1% hard hit rate. To say that Bell is earning his stats, .339 batting after three hits yesterday, and 47 RBI, would be an understatement. Obviously we can’t expect him to continue on this pace, but we aren’t seeing any reasons not; well other than the fact that projecting these stats over a full season would just be crazy.
3) We Have a Pearce Sighting
While Steve Pearce isn’t going to play everyday, he can be a useful player when in the lineup and used correctly. This is especially the case in DFS and deeper leagues that allow for daily moves. Pearce has been quite slow to get going so far this season, but there was batting fifth for the Red Sox on Thursday. He picked up three hits, to bring his average up just .171, while more importantly hitting his first home run of the season. Pearce, who drove in three runs on the day, has eight RBI in 76 at bats, and in his last seven games, he is hitting .318.
4) Richards Gets Through a Solid Start
He only has a no decision to show for his efforts, but Trevor Richards did everything he could to give his team a chance to win. Yes, Richards scattered eight hits, but he was able to hold a weak Detroit offense to just one run. Richards only walked one batter while striking out six, and after a rough start, his ERA now sits at 4.14 on the season. While there was some buzz surrounding Richards entering 2019, I am still a little skeptical, and the first step is improving his control. Even after yesterday’s effort, Richards is still walking 4.47 batters per innings while also allowing 1.49 home runs per nine innings. And with a 5.05 FIP, I’m still going to keep my distance.
5) An Ugly Win for Nola
While Aaron Nola is 5-0 on the season, his actual performance doesn’t match the record. The right-hander did pick up another victory on Thursday against the Cubs, but it wasn’t his best outing. Nola allowed three runs in 5.1 innings of work, and it could have actually been worse. Chicago managed four hits and four walks off Nola, who did strike out six while bringing his ERA to 4.53. A 3.75 xFIP, along with his track record and 10.30 strikeouts per nine innings, does give us some cause for optimism moving forward, but I’d like to see Nola bring the walks down; 3.90 per nine innings after 2.46 last season. Nola’s ground ball percentage is also down about five percent from last season while his hard contact rate is about 10% higher. There is a buying opportunity here, but not at full value just yet.
6) It’s Getting Old
Just because it is getting old, and in a good way of course, it doesn’t mean we don’t have to take note of it. With Josh Donaldson healthy, for the moment at least, and also performing well, the Braves’ new left fielder is Austin Riley. While Ender Inciarte is sidelined, this works out perfectly for Atlanta, but once he is back, playing time will decrease for both the speedy outfielder and for Nick Markakis. I mean, how can Atlanta take Riley out of the lineup? Riley was 3 for 6 on Thursday with, yes you guessed it, another home run. It was the fifth home run of the season for Riley, who is now up to 12 RBI. Continuing to hit .389 is obviously not practical, but seeing Riley have success isn’t a complete surprise.
7) Some Bottom of the Order Punch
When a team scores 16 runs, you know it was a complete effort from the entire lineup, and that was the case for the Twins on Thursday. Especially now with the return of Miguel Sano, Minnesota has put together a pretty complete lineup, and batting eighth is Jonathan Schoop. The second baseman went deep twice on Thursday, he is up to a, quiet, 10 home runs on the season. Schoop is hitting .270 on the season, and after driving in four runs, he is now up to 29 RBI. Last season didn’t go too well for Schoop between his time in Baltimore and Milwaukee, and he went under the radar this off-season. To this point, he has been a prudent addition for the Twins.
8) Pham Goes Deep
While he might not be lighting up the stat sheet, Tommy Pham is putting together a pretty solid 2019 season. The outfielder went deep for the seventh time this season on Thursday as part of a three hit effort. He is now hitting .290 on the season with 22 RBI, and it is in on base percentage leagues where Pham truly shines. On the heels of 32 walks, against 37 strikeouts, in 46 games, Pham is sporting a .403 on base percentage.
9) Giolito Dominates
Yes, Lucas Giolito is finally living up to the hype this season, but facing the Astros Thursday night, there was no way he could continue it, right? Let’s think again, as Houston never had a chance against the right-hander. Yes, they were missing George Springer and Jose Altuve, but there were still plenty of other weapons in their lineup waiting to pounce. Instead, Giolito limited them to just four hits and one walk while throwing a complete game shutout. With nine strikeouts, Giolito’s ERA now sits at 2.77 for the season as he improved his record to 6-1. It is clear to say that the adjustments he made this off-season are playing off in a big way, as he honestly looks like a different pitcher. He now can take advantage of his stuff, and dominate the way he was expected to. For the season, the strikeouts are up from 6.49 per nine innings to 10.21 while he is walking more than a batter less (4.67 to 3.29). It is also interesting to see Giolito’s infield fly ball percentage increase from 9.9% to 14.6%.
10) Another Home Run From Frazier
Given all of the Yankees’ injuries, no one really seems to be immune, it is a good sign for Clint Frazier that he has remained relatively healthy. Yes, he did take a trip to the Injured List, but it was brief. And while Frazier might not be making an impact that jumps off the page at you, he is continuing to make good use of his first extended chance at the major league level as he keeps on earning more playing time (not like New York really had a choice though). On Thursday, Frazier went 1 for 3, but he did hit a solo homer for his ninth long ball of the season. With a .258 average and 24 RBI in 120 at bats, we are finally seeing what Frazier is capable of.