10 Important Stories from 06/25/19 Box Scores: Which Rookie Starters Are Must Buys (Allen, Alzolay), Are We Selling These Big Names (Snell, Flaherty) & More

9
2618

Max Scherzer did what Max Scherzer does, dominating the Marlins allowing 1 ER on 5 H and 0 BB, striking out 10, over 8.0 IP.  Ross Stripling returned to the rotation, though it’s going to take him time to get stretched out, as he allowed 2 R (1 earned) on 4 H and 1 BB, striking out 4, over 3.0 IP.  It was a dominant start for Madison Bumgarner, who beat the Rockies by allowing 2 ER on 3 H and 3 BB, striking out 11, over 6.0 IP.  What else happened on the field that we need to know about?  Let’s take a look:

1) Is there any reason to believe DJ LeMahieu is this good…
Hitting atop the Yankee lineup he hit one of four home runs (including one from Aaron Judge, his first since being activated from the IL), going 2-4 with 1 HR, 1 RBI and 1 R.  He’s now hitting .333 with 11 HR, 52 RBI, 57 R and 4 SB over 297 AB.  Currently he’s on a 11-game hitting streak (21-46, 4 HR, 11 RBI, 14 R), and it’s obviously hard to believe that he’s going to be able to maintain this type of pace.  Watching him hit for a strong average isn’t stunning, as a player willing to use the entire field (31.6% Oppo%) and with a solid approach (6.0% SwStr%, 30.1% O-Swing%), though he entered the day with a .360 BABIP despite a 36.0% Hard%.  You also have to question his power, already nearing his career high (15 HR last season) and entering the day with a 14.9% HR/FB (career 8.3%) as well as a 26.7% fly ball rate.  No one is going to say he won’t be productive, but the fact is that he isn’t quite this good and his value may never be greater.  Kicking the tires and considering selling high makes sense.

2) Jake Arrieta got the W, but that doesn’t mean it was pretty…
His offense bailed him out against the Mets, as he allowed 5 ER on 9 H and 2 BB, striking out 2, over 6.0 IP in a 7-5 victory.  He’s now allowed 5 ER in three of his past five starts (and 4+ ER in five of his past nine), leading to a 4.33 ERA and 1.41 WHIP.  The big issue is his 17 HR over 97.2 IP, including 8 HR over his past five starts (he allowed 2 HR yesterday), though it’s easy to envision that improving.  He entered the day with a 51.5% groundball rate (10 groundballs vs. 6 fly balls yesterday), and surprisingly he’s had more issues on the road (11) than at home (6).  An improvement there would go a long way, though his unimpressive strikeout potential (7.3% SwStr% before 5 swinging strikes yesterday), pedestrian control (3.63 BB/9) and bloated Hard% (38.6%) all would limit his upside regardless.  Even if the home runs improve, his value is minimal at best.

3) Did Logan Allen do enough to earns another start…
Taking on the Orioles on the road he allowed 2 ER on 8 H and 2 BB, striking out 5, over 6.0 IP to improve to 2-0 with a 1.38 ERA in the Majors.  Obviously it’s a far cry from what he did against the Brewers (7.0 shutout innings allowing 3 H and 2 BB), but he did a good job of limiting the damage while inducing groundballs (7 groundballs vs. 4 fly balls).  He hadn’t shown this type of groundball rate at Triple-A (46.3% over 57.2 IP), but there’s even more strikeout stuff (9.83 K/9) and at least solid control.  Pitching half his games in San Diego should help to limit the home run risk, and at the very least he’s going to be a streaming option when starting.  You would think this would be enough to keep him in the rotation, at least for now, and that makes him worth owning in all 12+ team formats.

4) Hunter Dozier with a stunning game winning blast…
The Royals entered the ninth inning trailing 6-3, and after 4 hits loaded the bases and brought in a run Dozier stepped to the plate against Brad Hand.  He proceeded to launch a game turning grand slam, helping to continue to show that his pre-injury breakout was no aberration.  In five games since returning he’s gone 4-20 with 2 HR, 9 RBI and 2 R, bringing his season totals to .302 with 13 HR and 42 RBI.  Obviously we’d like to see a few more hits, but he entered the day showing an improved approach (8.7% SwStr%, 27.1% O-Swing%), something he’s maintained (4 K vs. 2 BB since returning).  You can argue that he’s taking a bit too fly ball-centric of an approach (44.7%), but he’s hitting the ball extremely hard (47.2%) and using the entire field (27.7%).  Everything indicates this is for real including a .333 BABIP and 16.9% HR/FB entering the day.

5) Is it time to give up on Trevor Richards…
Taking on the Nationals he allowed 6 ER on 7 H and 2 BB, striking out 3, over 5.0 IP and he’s now allowed 5+ ER in two of his past three starts.  He wasn’t missing many bats yesterday (6 swinging strikes), though that hasn’t generally been a problem this season (12.0% SwStr% entering the day).  Is that alone enough to excite us at this point?  It shouldn’t be a surprise that he’s taken a step backwards, entering the day with a 42.1% Hard% indicating that his luck was going to run out (he entered the day with a .262 BABIP and 80.2% strand rate).  This little cold patch could be just the beginning of that regression, and without groundballs (36.6% entering the day, 6 groundballs vs. 6 fly balls yesterday) and not very special control (3.85 BB/9 in his first 210.1 IP) and what are we hanging our hats on?

6) A solid first start for Adbert Alzolay…
He was matched up with Max Fried (6.0 IP, 2 R, 2 H, 5 BB, 8 K) and the Braves and managed to hold his own.  While he was pulled after 4.2 IP he allowed 1 ER on 1 H and 4 BB, striking out 4, and ultimately settled for a no decision.  He did a good job of generating swings and misses (12) and in 8.2 IP since debuting he owns a 2.08 ERA, 0.92 WHIP and 9 K.  Obviously his control (6 BB) and home run issues (2 HR courtesy of a 36.8% groundball rate) are concerns, though the former should sort itself out if he sticks in the rotation (he had a 1.69 BB/9 over 32.0 IP at Triple-A).  Home runs are always going to be a potential issue (41.7% groundball rate at Triple-A) and that could ultimately limit his overall appeal.  For now consider him more of a streaming option with potential, as opposed to someone to trust.

7) What to make of the struggles of Blake Snell…
Making sense of this may go beyond the scope of this column, and it’s something we’ll have to dig deep into, but it is among the biggest stories of the day.  Maybe you were willing to give him a pass after the disastrous start against the Yankees, but he followed it up with another disaster.  This time against the Twins he allowed 7 ER on 11 H and 1 BB, striking out 4, over 3.1 IP and now sits at 4-7 with a 5.01 ERA and 1.34 WHIP.  Both his strikeouts (11.96 K/9) and control (3.30 BB/9) are on last year’s track, and while home runs have become an issue (1.25 HR/9) his groundball rate is also similar to last year’s mark (42.6%, compared to 44.7% in ’18).  He is giving up more line drives (25.6%), but his Hard% is actually down (33.7% vs. 35.7%) and while we expected a luck regression his current .357 BABIP and 66.6% strand rate is excessive.  At least on the surface he should improve.

8) Is now the time to try and buy Jack Flaherty…
There was a lot of hype heading into the season, but after allowing 7 ER on 9 H and 1 BB, striking out 5, over 4.2 IP he owns an ugly 4.75 ERA over 85.1 IP.  He’s now allowed 4+ ER in three of his past four starts, but overall he’s continued to show strikeouts (9.91 K/9) and control (2.85 BB/9).  That has helped him keep his WHIP at least as usable (1.23), so what has been the problem?  While he has been hit hard (41.5%), the bigger problem has been a lack of groundballs (36.4%) leading to significant home run issues (1.90 HR/9, after yielding 3 HR yesterday).  His groundball rate has gotten continually worse as the season progressed (39.3% to 37.7% to 32.0% this month), and if he can’t improve that he’s always going to be more of a backend option.  He has been better at home (3.48 ERA) than on the road (6.68 ERA) so consider that for now.  If you can get him cheap enough there’s enough here, at least to deploy him as a matchup play.

9) Andrew Heaney gets the win, but are we buying…
He allowed 1 ER on 5 H and 4 BB, striking out 4, over 5.1 IP against the Reds.  This improved his ERA to 4.99 as he’s significantly struggled with his control (11 BB over his past 14.0 IP).  Control has not been an issue in the past (2.25 BB/9 over 180.1 IP last season), so you would want to believe that he can improve in that regard as he rounds back into form.  That said he’s benefited from a .232 BABIP and 79.1% strand rate while severely struggling to keep the ball in the ballpark (29.9% groundball rate leading to a 2.35 HR/9).  Maybe it’s the reduction in the use of his changeup (8.2% this season, compared to 16.4% for his career) and that could change?  Regardless, there’s enough to make it impossible to trust him.

10) We continue to see a mixed bag from Robbie Ray…
He took the loss against the Dodgers, allowing 3 ER on 4 H and 3 BB, striking out 9, over 6.1 IP.  Obviously it’s nice to see the strikeouts (15 swinging strikes), but his control wasn’t great and he allowed 2 HR.  He’s now allowed 2 HR in each of the past three starts (8 HR over his past five) and his control continues to be spotty at best (after walking 3 batters over 19.2 IP, he’s now issued 8 BB over his past 12.1 IP).  Overall he owns a 4.37 BB/9 and with a 40.1% groundball rate the home run issues likely aren’t going to disappear.  While there’s no questioning the strikeout stuff, is that enough to overcome these other issues?  Obviously not, and that makes him impossible to trust.

Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs

9 COMMENTS

  1. Prof,
    Yahoo fantasy leaguers are suddenly making a run on Brendan McKay. My leagues are ESPN where he’s only 4.5% rostered. Just had a league-mate add him too. I know he’s an extremely value-worthy pitcher, but did I miss something about an imminent call up?
    T

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here