10 Important Stories from 06/21/19 Box Scores: Is There Value In Struggling Starters, Should We Buy The Big Days (Peacock, Cuthbert) & More

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Walker Buehler had the performance of the night, allowing 2 ER on 3 H and 0 BB, striking out 16, in a complete game victory over the Rockies.  Aaron Judge finally made his return to the Yankees’ lineup, going 0-4 while striking out twice out of the leadoff spot.  Aaron Nola was a tough luck loser against the Marlins, allowing 2 R (1 earned) on 6 H and 1 BB, striking out 10, over 8.0 IP.  What else happened on the field that we need to know about?  Let’s take a look:

1) Dallas Keuchel finally makes his 2019 debut…
Taking on the Nationals on the road it was an underwhelming performance, allowing 4 R (3 earned) on 8 H and 0 BB, striking out 3, over 5.0 IP.  He hit two batters while not missing many bats (8 swinging strikes) and generating enough groundballs, but not overwhelmingly so (8 groundballs vs. 5 fly balls).  Let’s not forget that Keuchel was never an elite strikeout artist (7.15 career K/9) who had an above average groundball rate last season, but not an elite one (53.7%), who sat on the sidelines for far too long of a time.  There was always going to be risk having sat out this long and this first start doesn’t change that.  There should be a little value, but it’s not easy to trust him.

2) Brad Peacock opens some eyes against the Yankees, but should we be excited…
Much of the talk is going to be the fact that both Gary Sanchez (2-4, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 R) and Gleyber Torres (1-3, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 R) have now homered in three straight games.  That’s going to distract you from Peacock, who was a strikeout machine in a losing effort, as he allowed 2 ER on 5 H and 0 BB, striking out 11, over 6.0 IP.  Peacock has shown this before (he had 12 K over 7.0 IP against the Royals on May 8), but let’s not overlook his 8.8% SwStr% entering the day (12 swinging strikes yesterday).  That makes it hard to envision him maintaining this type of rate and it would appear that home runs are starting to catch up with him (he allowed 1 HR yesterday and has allowed 5 HR over his past three starts).  Throw in the potential for his luck to turn (.260 BABIP, 38.9% Hard%) and this screams of a sell high situation.  The value may never be higher, so cash in now while you can.

3) Can yesterday be the start of a turnaround for Joe Musgrove…
He made one mistake against the Padres (a solo home run to Manny Machado), but otherwise was outstanding as he earned the W.  Over 7.0 IP he allowed 1 ER on 5 H and 0 BB, striking out 8, as he was generating an impressive number of swings and misses (17 swinging strikes).  This was an important rebound start, after allowing 6 ER in 4.0 IP against the Braves in his last start, though it’s been a long stretch of struggles (he had allowed 5+ ER in five of his past nine appearances).  Obviously his 58.4% strand rate entering the day screams of poor luck, but a 39.3% Hard% and .295 BABIP help to offset that optimism.  Throw in the risk of home runs (44.2% groundball rate, before 4 groundballs vs. 9 fly balls yesterday) and a career 7.76 K/9 and it’s fair to have lost hope.  He could get hot and be more than a streaming option, but for now that’s where he should be pegged.

4) Just when there appears to be hope for Trevor Bauer…
It was an ugly game for both starting pitchers, as Matthew Boyd also struggled (6.0 IP, 5 ER, 7 H, 2 BB, 6 K), but it is Bauer who draws our focus.  After allowing 1 ER over his past two starts (16.2 IP) he got beat up by the Tigers, allowing 5 ER on 10 H and 1 BB, striking out 5, over 4.0 IP.  Could the workload have caught up to him (he had thrown 99+ pitches in eight straight starts, including 109+ in six straight)?  Perhaps, though it’s not like this is his first bump in ’19 (he’s allowed 4+ ER in six of his past 11 starts) and his 3.69 ERA is a bit deceiving.  He entered the day having benefited from a .238 BABIP, a number that is likely to regress, while the potential for even more home run issues loomed (41.3% groundball rate and a 1.08 HR/9, before allowing 2 HR yesterday).  He should be solid, but there’s risk here that can’t be ignored.  Be prepared for continued ups and downs.

5) Does Michael Wacha’s rebound bring a sense of hope…
Taking on the Angels he allowed 1 ER on 5 H and 1 BB, striking out 4, over 6.0 IP as he outpitched Griffin Canning (5.1 IP, 2 ER, 4 H, 3 BB, 3 K) to earn the W.  Does this one start change the fact that he was tattooed in his previous outing (5 ER over 4.0 IP) and had been bad enough to be pulled from the rotation previously?  Of course not, especially as he struggled to miss bats (8 swinging strikes) and wasn’t generating a significant number of groundballs (6 groundballs vs. 6 fly balls).  The risk of home runs was always going to be there, but he’s also generally struggled with his control this season (3.84 BB/9 in ’18, 5.25 entering the day) and doesn’t feature impressive swing and miss stuff (8.4% SwStr% entering the day).  In other words don’t let this one start change your opinion.

6) Could Zack Collins settle into the DH role for the White Sox…
It wasn’t a monster game, but Collins did deliver a big blow as he went 1-5 with 1 HR, 3 RBI and 1 R in his first MLB start as Chicago’s DH.  Obviously having also struck out 3 times is going to raise at least a little red flag, especially after a 32.0% strikeout rate at Triple-A, but there’s no questioning his power and a lot of the strikeout issues are due to his patience at the plate (17.5% walk rate prior to his promotion).  He has the potential to carve out a significant role, even once the White Sox get healthy, and in OBP formats he could be a true difference maker.  Time will tell if he finds himself in the lineup regularly or if he’ll return back to Triple-A before long, but for now he needs to be on all radars.

7) Does Cheslor Cuthbert warrant our attention…
Yesterday saw Hunter Dozier return for the Royals (he went 0-4, while hitting third), so it’s fair to wonder if Cuthbert is going to remain in the lineup.  He was playing first base yesterday, and with this type of performance he could find regular AB there (or at DH) moving forward.  He went 3-4 with 1 HR, 4 RBI and 2 R, putting his season totals at .307 with 4 HR, 15 RBI and 8 R in 75 AB.  While he’s never shown this type of potential in the Majors he’s shown more at Triple-A over the past few seasons (in 366 AB since ’16 he owns a 14.9% HR/FB, which is along the lines of his 16.7% mark entering the day).  There is a little bit of strikeout risk and his .362 BABIP is sure to regress, so while there is a sense of optimism there also is no guarantee that he’s able to maintain it.  Consider him more of a player to stream while he’s going well, because things should turn and he’ll likely find his way out of the lineup when it does.

8) Mallex Smith runs wild and shows some value…
While he didn’t have the most stolen bases on the day (that went to Lorenzo Cain, who went 2-4 with 1 R and 3 SB), but Smith had a monster day hitting atop the order.  He finished going 3-3 with 1 RBI, 4 R and 2 SB, breaking an eight game stretch without a stolen base.  Smith has generally struggled this season, despite 21 SB, as he’s slashing .230/.302/.361 with far too much swing and miss from a player who uses his speed to thrive (13.1% SwStr% entering the day, leading to a 25.5% strikeout rate).  He should improve upon his .298 BABIP and there’s no questioning Smith ability to be a difference maker in terms of stolen bases.  Just know that there are risks, as if the strikeouts continue to mount the opportunities to run isn’t going to be there.

9) Should we be buying what German Marquez is selling…
His performance was overshadowed by Buehler’s, but that doesn’t make it any less important.  He went 8.0 impressive innings allowing 2 R (1 earned) on 5 H and 0 BB, striking out 8, though he didn’t generate many groundballs (5 groundballs vs. 11 fly balls) and wasn’t generating many swings and misses (13).  Generally he’s shown significantly more groundballs than this (53.2% overall), and he also should see improvement in his luck metrics (.307 BABIP, 70.5% strand rate, though a 37.9% Hard% does loom a little large).  Most of his issues have come at home (5.70 ERA), though that shouldn’t come as a surprise, so at the very least he should be a streaming option when his start comes on the road.  That said he should be better at home moving forward and he should be a viable option.

10) Is there actually value in the Giants outfield…
They’ve seemingly been on the lookout for help all season long, taking various swings, but they got significant production last night as both Kevin Pillar (2-4, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 3 R) and Alex Dickerson (3-5, 1 HR, 6 RBI, 1 R) both had big days against the Diamondbacks.  Pillar has been on a bit of a tear as of late, with a modest four-game hitting streak (7-15 over this stretch) and five multi-hit games in his past eight.  Of course he’s still hitting just .249 on the season, though he’s shown enough power (9 HR) and speed (8 SB) to make him intriguing.  That said his approach continues to be abysmal, with a 46.8% O-Swing%, and that’s led to few walks (2.8%), popup issues (12.0%) and the potential for weak contact (33.8% Hard%).  Ride him while he’s going well, but don’t get attached.

Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs  

4 COMMENTS

    • (I already answered the Stripling question on another post)

      The Bauer/Altuve is an intriguing deal and somewhat need based, but I’d lean Altuve. They are close and while he may not be the player he once was, there’s still a lot of value

    • At this point I’d lean Plesac, solely because he has the most potential to stick in the rotation long-term. After that I’d go Allen / Alzolay

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