10 Important Stories from 07/23/19 Box Scores: Several Sell High Starters, Resurgent Batters To Buy For 2nd Half & More

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Trevor Bauer tossed a gem, though he settled for a no decision, with 7.2 shutout innings allowing 3 H and 3 BB, striking out 9.  It was a monster day for Didi Gregorius, who went 5-5 with 1 HR, 7 RBI and 2 R in a crazy game against the Twins (who got a big offensive day from Miguel Sano, who hit 2 HR with 5 RBI).  Madison Bumgarner settled for a no decision allowing 3 ER on 6 H and 1 BB, striking out 7, over 7.0 IP against the Cubs.  What else happened on the field that we need to know about?  Let’s take a look:

1) Home runs continue to plague Chris Archer…
He allowed 2 HR to the Cardinals, including one to Paul Goldschmidt (1-4, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 R), and he’s now allowed 6 HR over his past four starts (24 HR over 96.2 IP overall).  That led to an L as he finished allowing 4 ER on 7 H and 2 BB, striking out 6, over 6.0 IP to leave him at 3-7 with a 5.40 ERA and 1.42 WHIP.  We’ve continually said that the home run issue will continue to hang over him until he fixes his groundball rate (35.6% entering the day), and yesterday he wasn’t even doing a good job of missing bats (8 swinging strikes).  He’s shown flashes of figuring things out and that makes him worth stashing assuming you have the room, but it’s impossible to trust him until he proves he can keep the ball in the ballpark regularly.

2) Robinson Cano shows that he’s not finished yet…
It’s been a miserable season for Cano, but he broke out in a big way yesterday showing signs that his resurgence could last all second half.  He went 4-4 with 3 HR, 5 RBI and 3 R, with two of the long balls coming at the expense of Chris Paddack (5.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 H, 2 BB, 4 K).  Cano is now hitting .316 with 5 HR, 9 RBI and 10 R in July and this was his second four-hit performance in his past eight games.  Obviously we don’t want to be distracted by one big game, but he entered the day with a 39.3% Hard% yet a .280 BABIP (.318 for his career), had shown a willingness to use the entire field (27.2% Oppo%) and it’s hard to envision his power completely disappearing (8.8% HR/FB).  He had been chasing too many pitches (38.8% O-Swing%), but that simply wasn’t enough.  Things should continue to improve.

3) It was an impressive outing for Dallas Keuchel…
He’s not known for his strikeout stuff, though he was delivering yesterday (as was his counterpart, Danny Duffy, who had 11 K over 6.0 IP).  Over 6.0 IP Keuchel allowed 2 ER on 3 H and 2 BB, striking out 12, but a bullpen implosion helped let the game get away from Atlanta.  Keuchel wasn’t just missing bats (17 swinging strikes), but he also generated 5 groundballs vs. 1 fly ball.  Obviously it’s hard to envision this type of swing and miss stuff continuing (he entered the day with an 8.2% SwStr%), but if he shows even a slight improvement when paired with his 57.7% groundball rate he could be an elite pitcher down the stretch.  While we aren’t willing to bank on it, this start is extremely promising nonetheless.

4) Matthew Boyd delivers a strong start just when he needs it…
His name has been bandied about in trade rumors, but Boyd hadn’t been pitching very well of late.  He reversed course yesterday against the Phillies, matching up with Aaron Nola (7.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 H, 1 BB, 7 K) and nearly matching him pitch-for-pitch as he went 6.0 IP allowing 2 ER on 5 H and 2 BB, striking out 8.  It broke a six start stretch of allowing at least 4 ER (eight starts of at least 3 ER).  The big thing to watch with Boyd, if he is traded, is going to be home runs.  He entered the day with a 36.5% groundball rate leading to a 1.58 HR/9, despite pitching half his games in a favorable ballpark.  Just consider his 4.81 ERA on the road (though he’s actually allowed more home runs at home) as a reason for skepticism.  If he’s traded to a hitter friendly ballpark things could really get ugly.

5) Is it time to truly believe in the Marlins’ Caleb Smith…
Taking on the White Sox in Chicago Smith allowed 1 ER on 2 H and 2 BB, striking out 9, over 7.0 IP to improve to 6-4 with a 3.30 ERA and 1.02 WHIP.  Of course he wasn’t showing either groundballs (3 groundballs vs. 9 fly balls) or swing and miss stuff (10 swinging strikes) yesterday, though the latter isn’t indicative of what he’s done all season (he entered the day with a 14.5% SwStr%).  The former, however?  Smith owned a 28.1% groundball rate entering the day, as well as a 38.5% Hard%, and while home runs have been an issue (1.73 HR/9) he’s benefited from significant luck.  Does anyone truly believe that he can maintain a .239 BABIP or an 84.1% strand rate?  Both of the numbers could tumble quickly, and that could lead to a significant regression.  The strikeouts and control bring perceived value (110 K vs. 30 BB over 90.0 IP), but he’s more of a sell high candidate than one to trust for the rest of ’19.

6) Yuli Guerriel just continues to hit…
He went 2-4 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 1 R yesterday, putting him at .294 with 20 HR and 65 RBI on the season.  He’s now homered in four of his past five games and has 12 HR and 28 RBI over 74 AB in July (he’s hitting 15 HR since June 23).  It’s been an unbelievable stretch, and even though it’s one that’s obviously unsustainable it certainly has to open up some eyes.  He’s always shown a good approach but not this much power, though entering the day with a 14.0% HR/FB on the season isn’t an unsustainable mark (especially considering the way the ball is flying out of the ballpark this season).  Of course his 42.3% HR/FB in July entering the day (36.8% since June 23) is not a mark you can continue to bank on.  That means the power is going to slow, but it doesn’t mean it’s going to disappear.  Don’t be confused and suddenly think of him as elite, but view him as a viable option moving forward.

7) Domingo German implodes in a while game…
The Yankees and Twins combined to score 26 runs on 35 hits in a back-and-forth affair, but German’s performance (or lack thereof) is probably the most notable.  German put the Yankees in an early hole, allowing 8 ER on 9 H and 2 BB, striking out 3, over 3.2 IP as he was done in by 3 HR.  He’s now allowed 5 HR over his past two starts and 18 HR overall (over 91.2 IP) and while that number appears to be worse than we’d expect a 39.5% groundball rate entering the day was always a red flag.  He also entered with a .249 BABIP and 79.2% strand rate, showing that he’s benefited from significant luck.  While the swing and miss stuff has been there (14.2% SwStr%, 36.3% O-Swing%), throw in that his control (2.15 BB/9 entering the day) could also take a massive step backwards and it’s fair to be highly concerned.  This start is as bad as it gets, but it may not be the last poor outing.  Consider him a sell high candidate.

8) Is it time to give up on Merrill Kelly…
The hope was that it would be an “easy” start against the Orioles, instead he got tagged for 7 ER on 8 H and 0 BB, striking out 4, over 2.1 IP as 3 HR were the big issue here.  Kelly had been rolling of late, allowing 3 ER or fewer in five straight starts (and eight of his previous nine), making this performance that much more discouraging.  Of course he entered the day with a 7.08 K/9, 2.39 BB/9 and 41.9% groundball rate, so there’s only one “skill” that would make him appear to be a usable starter.  With a 9.6% SwStr% and 41.4% Hard% nothing seems to make him a believable option.  There’s the potential for some value, but with your titles hanging in the balance it’s going to feel difficult to truly trust him.

9) Here we go again with Rougned Odor…
He went 3-4 with 2 HR, 3 RBI and 3 R yesterday, giving him back-to-back three-hit games (6-8, 3 HR, 4 RBI and 5 R).  Considering how bad he’s been it’s easy to forget just how great Odor was in the second half of ’18 (.266 with 12 HR and 39 RBI), so now fantasy owners are left to wonder if this is the start of a similar outburst.  The real key is going to be whether or not he can get the strikeouts in check, as he entered the day with a 33.0% strikeout rate, though his 13.0% SwStr% doesn’t justify quite that big of a number (though it is a step back from his 10.9% mark last season).  He also has gotten to be too fly ball heavy (47.9%), and that’s helped to suppress his BABIP (.247) despite a 41.9% Hard%.  Those two concerns make a true monster second half tough to buy into, but it’s also possible he makes the necessary corrections.  In other words he’s worth the gamble.

10) Could Jesse Winker finally turn things around…
The Reds put up 14 runs on Zach Davies and the Brewers yesterday, with Winker hitting one of three home runs.  He finished the day going 2-2 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 1 R, and over his past 30 games he’s now hitting .333 with 4 HR and 15 RBI.  It is obviously easy to overlook considering that he hasn’t lived up to the preseason expectations, but it obviously still can’t be overlooked.  You can argue that he has been putting too many balls on the ground (51.3% entering the day), but he has speed and a 41.5% Hard% should yield better than a .273 BABIP.  Throw in a strong approach (6.6% SwStr%, 24.8% O-Swing%), and it’s easy to envision this hot stretch lasting the rest of the season.  He won’t live up to the hype, but he still could be a productive piece down the stretch.

Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs

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