10 Important Stories from 05/29/19 Box Scores: Buy Low Candidates (Mazara, Lopez & More), Regression Risks (Paddack) & More

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Josh Bell continued his tear, going 3-5 with 1 HR, 3 RBI and 2 R (he’s now hitting .345 with 18 HR and 51 RBI).  James Paxton made his return to the mound tossing 4.0 no-hit innings, allowing 2 BB while striking out 7, against the Padres.  It was a dominant outing from Aaron Nola, allowing 1 ER on 4 H and 3 BB, striking out 8, over 7.0 IP against the Cardinals (his lone mistake was a home run to Matt Wieters).  What else happened on the field that we need to know about?  Let’s take a look:

1) Is it time to be concerned with Chris Paddack…
Taking on the Yankees he allowed 4 ER on 6 H and 1 BB, striking out 6, over 5.0 IP.  It’s the second time in his past three starts that he’s struggled, and while no one is going to complain about a 2.40 ERA and 0.82 WHIP you have to wonder if the regression is going to continue.  He allowed 3 HR yesterday, which also was the issue when he struggled against the Dodgers two starts ago (2 HR allowed in that one).  He entered the day with a 43.8% groundball rate, so it’s possible the home run issues continue (especially on the road), and there also is no question that the luck is going to regress (.198 BABIP, despite a 47.2% Hard% entering the day).  That’s not to say that there won’t be any value, but it’s fair to be concerned about his outlook moving forward.

2) Is it already too late to buy low on Nomar Mazara…
He went 3-5 with 3 R yesterday, his third straight multi-hit game (7-13, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 5 R).  Overall he’s still slashing a somewhat disappointing .267/.320/.455 with 7 HR over 187 AB.  He has added 12 doubles and 1 triple, and nearly everything in his underlying numbers would make you think that a strong run is coming.  Just consider that he’s using the entire field at an all-time high (31.5% Oppo%) while he’s continued to see his Hard% rise (over the four years of his career he’s gone from 28.7% to 32.6% to 37.5% to 47.3% this season).  Those two things should lead to better than a .288 BABIP, and while the power may be somewhat limited (29.5% fly ball rate), would 20 HR with a strong average and ample RBI/R be without value?  If there’s still a discouraged owner, it’s worth kicking the tires.

3) Cesar Puello makes a strong impression in his 2019 debut…
Talk about debuting with a bang, making his debut for the Angels in 2019 he went 3-6 with 1 HR, 4 RBI and 2 R.  He had been performing well prior to his recall, hitting .299 with 7 HR over 134 AB at Triple-A while also showing an ability to consistently draw a walk (13.3% walk rate).  Of course he’s also consistently buried the ball into the ground, with a 2.80 GO/AO this season (1.80 for his MLB career), and that’s going to lead to questionable power moving forward.  There’s obviously a reason why he’s gotten few opportunities at 28-years old, and while he could make a short-term impact over the long haul he’s not going to be an investment you want to make.

4) Carlos Santana continues to prove that he holds value…
He finished a single short of the cycle, going 3-4 with 1 HR, 5 RBI and 4 R.  He’s now hitting .284 with 10 HR and 34 RBI on the season while he’s continued to show an elite approach (38 K vs. 40 BB).  There has always been some value, especially in OBP formats, but the big difference has come from his BABIP going from .231 to .300 as he’s watched his popup rate plummet (17.9% to 6.1%) and his Hard% rise (32.8% to 49.7%).  Can he maintain those types of marks, considering career rates of 14.0% and 33.6%, respectively?  That may be a hard sell, and while that’s not going to eliminate his value we need to know what to expect.  For now he’s a must use in all formats, and he’ll always be an above average option in OBP formats, but be prepared to move on as the underlying numbers turn.

5) While Genesis Cabrera brought intrigue, does that mean we invest…
He’s a flame thrower, and with 5 K over 3.2 IP he backed up the strikeout upside.  However it wasn’t a great outing overall as he allowed 5 R (3 earned) on 5 H and 1 BB, allowing 1 HR (he was followed by Michael Wacha, who allowed 6 runs courtesy of 3 HR, in his inning of work).  Prior to his recall he had seemed to figure things out at Triple-A (he had lowered his ERA from 10.22 to 6.35 over his final five starts at the level), but he had shown questionable control (19 BB over 39.2 IP) and the potential to struggle with home runs (0.76 GO/AO, 11 HR allowed).  Those two things always were going to make him a risky investment, and both issues could continue moving forward.  With his strikeout stuff he may ultimately be a better fit in the bullpen, especially with Alex Reyes close to a return.

6) It was a strong start for Pablo Lopez, but should we believe…
Taking on the Giants at home he allowed 1 ER on 4 H and 1 BB, striking out 5, over 6.0 IP.  He made one mistake, a home run courtesy of Brandon Belt (1-4, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 R), a nice bounce back after allowing 4 ER over 3.2 IP in his last outing.  There’s been a dramatic split in his numbers, and it tells you when you can use him and when you can’t as he owns a 1.84 ERA at home (29.1 IP) compared to an 8.26 ERA on the road (28.1 IP).  He entered the day with an 8.71 K/9, 2.44 BB/9 and 51.0% groundball rate, showing all of the skills we look for from a pitcher (and a 62.5% strand rate gives reason to believe).  At the very least he’s a must use option when pitching at home, and there should be significantly better days coming on the road.  At the least he’s a streaming option, with the potential to be much more than that.

7) Kevin Gausman provides the epitome of a poor outing…
There are a lot of takeaways from the Nationals-Braves game, including the return (and seeming resurgence) of Anibal Sanchez as he tossed 6.0 shutout innings allowing 1 H and 1 BB, striking out 7.  However it was Gausman’s disaster that deserves the most attention, getting blown up in his single inning of work as he allowed 8 ER on 8 H and 2 BB, striking out 1.  It’s not like he has been particularly good overall, though his 5.56 ERA and 1.38 WHIP is now downright ugly.  Part of his issues have been luck related, with a .312 BABIP and 58.3% strand rate, though you have to wonder if shelving his slider (going from 14.2% to 2.2% used) is the reason why?  It’s fair to wonder, but his strikeout stuff is up significantly (13.2% SwStr%, 36.5% O-Swing%) and while the groundballs are down things should be better than this.  Coming off this type of start may be the best time to try and buy low.

8) Robbie Ray shows why he’s tough to trust…
Granted the start came in Colorado, but it wasn’t home runs that did him in.  Going 4.2 innings he allowed 5 runs (4 ER) on 8 H and 4 BB, striking out 6.  He needed 102 pitches, showing how his inefficiency has caused some significant issues in terms of going deep into games.  While he owns a 3.59 ERA over 62.2 innings of work, courtesy of an impressive 11.78 K/9, a 5.03 BB/9 and 41.2% groundball rate (which brings significant home run issues, even though they haven’t come this season with a 0.72 HR/9) will continue to hang over him.  Throw in a 43.5% Hard%, which would mark the third straight season where he’s been at 40.4% or higher, and what’s there to like?  Strikeouts can only take you so far, and at this point the risks far outweigh any potential rewards.

9) It wasn’t as bad of a start for Walker Buehler as you’d think…
He allowed 5 ER on 7 H and 1 BB, striking out 6, over 5.0 IP but the bulk of the damage was done by Peter Alonso (he took him deep twice, going 3-4 with 2 HR, 4 RBI and 2 R).  Buehler had been pitching well prior to this start, allowing 2 ER over 19.0 IP over his previous three starts (and had allowed 3 ER or fewer in seven straight starts).  This is frustrating, just when we thought that he had truly turned the corner, but it’s nothing more than a bump in the road and little else.  He has the stuff to be among the elite pitchers in the game, though that’s something we already knew, and there’s no shame in giving up a couple of home runs to someone like Alonso.  Don’t let this start change your outlook.

10) Lourdes Gurriel Jr. continues to hit in his return to the Majors…
He finished 2-6 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 2 R, giving him a six game hitting streak since returning from the minors.  Over this span he’s gone 10-23 with 4 HR (as well as 3 doubles), 6 RBI and 7 R, and getting ready for a weekend series in Colorado there’s an awful lot to like.  Of course he has drawn just 1 BB, though the 4 K wouldn’t be of particular concern either.  An 11.1% SwStr% does indicate that there’s risk for the strikeouts to start piling up at some point, but he’s been hitting the ball with extreme authority (52.6% Hard%) and using the entire field (31.6% Oppo%).  Obviously this is all in a very small sample size, but it’s promising all the same (especially since he hasn’t been chasing outside the strike zone nearly as much as he was earlier in the season, with his O-Swing% going from 41.8% to 27.1%).  If the approach has improved, the results make sense.  At the very least it’s worth grabbing him to find out.

Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs, MILB.com

9 COMMENTS

  1. Looking to make a trade for a closer. Is my Dahl for Neris fair or am I not offering enough? I’m not impressed with Dahl as of yet (but potential is there) and I view Neris as a middle of the pack closer with decent job security.

      • I was looking at Hand, thinking of packaging Dahl and Willie Calhoun for him, Calhoun being the only keeper eligible player of the three. I like Calhoun but I know the Hand owner tried to claim him the same time I did.

        Any suggestions for a closer straight up for Dahl?

        • IT’s a lot to give up for a closer, but it’s not bad if you aren’t using the players and can’t keep them anyways

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