10 Important Stories from 06/18/19 Box Scores: Is There Value In Various Young Starts (Keller, Allen, Yamamoto), Breakout Bats & More

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Giancarlo Stanton made his return, hitting fifth, and went 0-4 with 2 K.  It was a dominant outing for Jacob deGrom, who silenced the Braves, allowing 2 ER on 5 H and 0 BB, striking out 10, over 8.1 IP (he allowed back-to-back home runs in the ninth) to earn the W.  Whit Merrifield had himself a day at the top of the Royals lineup, going 3-4 with 2 HR, 6 RBI and 3 R.  What else happened on the field that we need to know about?  Let’s take a look:

1) Mitch Keller shows signs of his potential…
It came against the Tigers, so we have to keep that in mind, but it’s easy to argue that this was Keller’s best start in the Majors.  Going 5.0 innings he allowed 4 R (2 earned) on 4 H and 2 BB, striking out 6, though he settled for a no decision.  The most impressive number was his 15 swinging strikes, though his control continues to be relatively unimpressive (6 BB over 12.0 IP) and he hasn’t been generating many groundballs (22.2% groundball rate entering the day, 4 groundballs vs. 5 fly balls yesterday).  Both of those numbers were better at Triple-A, at 3.88 and 42.6% respectively, and there’s even more upside than that.  While he’s no lock he sticks in the Majors there remains significant upside as he’s among the best pitching prospects in the game.  Depending on the format he’s well worth keeping stashed.

2) Jesse Winker gets the game started with a bang…
He was hitting atop the order and had a leadoff home run, one of three given up by Justin Verlander (7.0 IP, 4 ER, 6 H, 1 BB, 8 K) on the day.  The home run was the only hit for Winker, who finished 1-4 with 1 HR, 1 RBI and 1 R and is hitting .242 with 12 HR, 24 RBI and 32 R over 211 AB on the season.  Of course those numbers aren’t very impressive and while he’s hit atop the batting order in two of the past three days, he’s also been sitting against southpaws.  He has been hitting fairly well against RHP, entering the day with a .254/.332/.503 slash, and assuming he’s atop the batting order there’s going to be value.  That said there will be weeks that he’s virtually unusable, when there are a slew of southpaws on the schedule, so keep that in mind.  Consider him a spot play at this point.

3) It was another impressive day for Jeff McNeil…
While Peter Alonso (4-4, 1 HR, 3 RBI and 3 R) and Michael Conforto (2-4, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 R) will get most of the attention, McNeil’s performance from atop the batting order was just as impressive.  He went 3-5 with 1 HR, 1 RBI, 3 R and 1 SB, putting him at .333 with 4 HR, 21 RBI, 29 R and 1 SB over 219 AB.  The more important mark is his .404 OBP, which is what has earned him a spot atop the batting order and a spot in the daily lineup (whether it’s in the outfield or at 2B or at 3B).  That said, before you get excited he’s not blowing you away with power or speed (both of which could continue) while his approach at the plate leaves room for regression (10.9% SwStr%, 36.6% O-Swing% entering the day).  Throw in a 37.4% Hard%, though a .364 BABIP, and 6.7% walk rate and it’s easy to envision it all coming down quickly.  Ride him while he’s hot, but don’t consider him a can’t miss.

4) The breakout of Eloy Jimenez continues…
He had the big hit, with a go ahead two-run home run off Pedro Strop in the ninth inning, finishing the day 2-3 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 1 R.  It marks his fifth two-hit game in his past eight, as he’s raised his average from .229 to .254 and hit 5 HR in the process (6 HR in his past nine games).  It’s no secret that home runs have been an issue (he entered the day with a 15.1% SwStr%) and that there’s room for improvement in his Hard% (32.8%), but the power is for real and he’s showing just how good he can be.  He’s showing the signs in June, with both numbers improving (12.8% and 48.6%, respectively), and now that he’s growing comfortable there’s reason to believe that the improved performance could continue.  The breakout is real, and while there will be bumps the upside is tremendous.

5) Zach Plesac rolls against the Rangers, but is there risk…
Of course the offense gave him plenty of room to work, with Jason Kipnis (2-4, 3 RBI, 1 R) and Oscar Mercado (2-5, 3 R, 2 SB) helping to lead the way.  Plesac went 7.0 innings allowing 1 ER on 2 H and 5 BB, striking out 6, as he made one mistake (a home run to Rougned Odor).  In five starts (31.2 IP) he owns an impressive 2.56 ERA and 0.98 WHIP, and while the control was spotty yesterday that hadn’t been an issue entering the day (1.82 BB/9 entering the day, after 7 BB over 57.1 IP split between Double and Triple-A).  The bigger issue has been the home runs, as he’s now allowed at least 1 HR in each of his past four starts (6 HR allowed) and hasn’t shown a propensity to generate groundballs (42.6% entering the day, 3 groundballs vs. 11 fly balls yesterday).  Considering his 32.7% over 20.0 IP at Triple-A it’s a concern, regardless of the other numbers. Keep that in mind before simply plugging him into your lineup.

6) A strong showing from Michael Pineda against Boston…
He settled for a no decision in a game that ultimately went 17 innings, but that doesn’t take away from the strong performance.  Going 6.0 innings he allowed 1 ER on 5 H and 1 BB, striking out 5, giving him back-to-back strong starts (2 ER over 11.2 IP).  While his 4.76 ERA over 75.2 IP is ugly, he does have a 1.19 WHIP as he’s displayed the typical elite control (1.67 BB/9) despite missing all of ’18.  Of course he also has struggled to generate groundballs (36.2%), though he’s now gone four straight starts without giving up a HR (though even yesterday he allowed 4 groundballs vs. 6 fly balls).  While the strikeouts haven’t been impressive (7.37 K/9), an 11.8% SwStr% indicates even more upside.  There is a little bit of risk (43.1% Hard%, .284 BABIP), but if he can continue to keep the ball in the ballpark there’s going to be value.  Consider him worth at least streaming moving forward.

7) Jordan Yamamoto shines against the Cardinals…
He was spectacular, tossing 7.0 shutout innings allowing 2 H and 2 BB, striking out 7.  Before we get too excited he wasn’t missing many bats (10 swinging strikes) and wasn’t getting groundballs (5 groundballs vs. 8 fly balls), which resembles what happened in his first start (9 swinging strikes, 4 groundballs vs. 10 fly balls).  Despite 14.0 shutout innings, do those metrics excite you?  They simply show risk, as does his .156 BABIP and 100.0% strand rate while actually being hit extremely hard (46.9%).  While he could have some value moving forward, don’t get overly excited over these first two starts.  The only way he can go is down and it’s just a matter of time before there’s a few implosions.

8) Making his MLB debut, Logan Allen dominates Milwaukee…
It was impressive, to say the least, as he tossed 7.0 shutout innings allowing 3 H and 2 BB, striking out 5, to earn the W.  He was a groundball machine, generated 10 groundballs vs. 3 fly balls, though a 46.3% groundball rate over 57.2 IP at Triple-A prior to his recall tells you that the mark may be a bit of an aberration.  He’s also struggled with his control in each of the past two seasons at Triple-A (4.23 and 3.43 BB/9, respectively) and that too could become an issue.  Obviously there’s significant upside, if he sticks in the rotation, and his 10.7% SwStr% shows that he could get some strikeouts at the highest level.  He’s not a can’t miss, though innings shouldn’t be a significant issue (he should have about 180 this season and thus far has thrown 64.2) and is worth at least being a plug and play depending on format.

9) Is it time to give up on Yusei Kikuchi…
Pitching at home against the Royals there was reason to believe a strong start was coming, but instead he was torched for 6 ER on 9 H and 2 BB, striking out 5, over 5.0 IP as he allowed 2 HR in the process.  He now owns a 5.15 ERA and 1.48 WHIP over 80.1 IP, as he’s allowed 6 ER in three of his past four starts (he hasn’t gone more than 5.0 innings in any of them).  Over his past five starts he’s allowed 9 HR (and 12 HR in his past seven starts) while the strikeouts have been virtually nonexistent (11 K over 20.0 IP).  While the home run issues are extreme, given a 1.90 HR/9 and 44.7% groundball rate, it’s not a complete surprise that he’s had issues and his 8.6% SwStr% and 25.8% O-Swing% doesn’t offer much upside in his strikeout rate as well.  There should be some better days ahead, but at this point it’s nearly impossible to trust him regardless of the matchup.

10) Ramon Laureano helps the A’s to a monster day…
Oakland racked up 16 R on 15 H, with Laureano being among the bigger producers as he went 3-5 with 1 HR, 3 RBI and 3 R.  He’s now hitting .265 with 11 HR, 34 RBI, 42 R and 8 SB over 268 AB, and he has 3 HR and 2 SB over his past six games.  He has consistently shown an ability to hit the ball hard (40.2% Hard% this season), though a 12.0% SwStr% and 33.4% O-Swing% brings some questions about his approach (24.9% strikeout rate, 4.5% walk rate).  Throw in a pull heavy approach (20.1% Oppo%) helping to suppress his BABIP, regardless of the Hard% (currently at .319), and there could be a cap to his upside.  That said there’s some power and speed, and that’s more than enough.

Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs

4 COMMENTS

    • I’m taking Mercado first, especially with the shortage of speed around the game. The fact that he adds a little bit of power with the potential to steal 30+ bases makes him far more valuable than the other two. Reyes/Renfroe are close, and it could come down to who gets traded

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