It was a big day for Javier Baez, who went 3-5 with 2 HR, 3 RBI and 3 R. Walker Buehler was limited, as expected, but pitched fairly well allowing 2 ER on 3 H and 1 BB, striking out 3, over 3.2 IP (he was allowed to throw just 56 pitches). Christian Yelich continues to struggle, going 0-4 with 2 K (he’s hitting .045 to open the year). What else happened on the field that we need to know about? Let’s take a look:
1) Austin Voth doesn’t quite live up to the hype…
A breakout favorite entering the year, Voth wasn’t terrible but he was plagued by the long ball. Taking on the Blue Jays he allowed a pair of home runs, ultimately going 5.0 innings allowing 3 R (2 earned) on 4 H and 0 BB, striking out 2. The key numbers to note:
- Groundballs-to-Flyballs – 6 to 8
- Swinging Strikes – 2
If that’s going to be the strikeout rate it’s going to be hard to be successful. He did show better strikeout stuff in ’19, both at Triple-A (11.1% SwStr%) and the Majors (12.6%), though home runs are going to continue to plague him (34.5% groundball rate in the Majors in ’19). In other words there’s some value, assuming he strikeout rate rebounds, but he could prove to be more of a streamer than a difference maker.
2) Is it time to write off Kyle Wright…
We all know how bad he was in 2019, but there was hope that he could put it together and become a fixture in Atlanta’s rotation (and with the DFA of Mike Foltynewicz you know the Braves were hoping for it). Instead it was another disaster, this time at the hands of the Rays, as he allowed 5 ER on 4 H and 3 BB, striking out 3, over just 2.2 IP. His control, which was solid at Triple-A (2.80 BB/9) has been abysmal in the Majors (6.66 BB/9 over 25.2 IP) and you can argue that he was lucky that he didn’t give up a home runs (1 groundball vs. 4 flyballs). It will be interesting to see if Atlanta gives up on him, but if they don’t fantasy owners shouldn’t either. The upside is still there.
3) David Peterson fares well in his MLB debut…
We talked about him in detail on Tuesday, and as we discussed then it is possible that he ultimately is more of a streaming option as opposed to a trusted starter. That said, it’s still nice to see strong results against a good Boston lineup. Over 5.2 IP he allowed 2 ER on 7 H and 2 BB, striking out 3, to earn the W. With Marcus Stroman’s return unknown (and with Rick Porcello struggling in his Mets debut), Peterson should get at least one more turn through the rotation. Depending on the matchup he could prove worth rolling the dice with.
4) The White Sox starters simply don’t get it done…
Many of the White Sox young starters have received a fair amount of hype over the years, but often the results haven’t matched. Yesterday was no different, as a pair of starters struggled against the Cleveland Indians:
- Dylan Cease – 2.1 IP, 4 ER, 7 H, 0 BB, 1 K
- Carlos Rodon – 3.2 IP, 5 ER, 4 H, 3 BB, 4 K
With Rodon the question has always been if he can consistently throw strikes, which he obviously struggled with yesterday. As for Cease, a pair of home runs cost him. Both do have potential, though we’d be higher on Cease who doesn’t have a history of home run issues (though, control is a question as he threw 34 of 64 pitches for strikes).
5) Carlos Martinez makes rotation return, but should we care…
It was a difficult matchup, but the results were simply bad. Lasting 3.2 IP Martinez allowed 6 ER on 7 H and 1 BB, striking out 2, over 3.2 IP. A pair of home runs may have been the biggest shots, but they were hardly the only issue (one was a solo home run). The start was his first in the Majors since July 30, 2018, and you have to wonder if he will struggle readjusting to the role. We wouldn’t expect that, as it’s not like his struggles cropped up as the game dragged on (he allowed 5 ER in the second inning). The upside is still there, but if his struggles linger another turn or two through the rotation the Cardinals could make the decision to shift Martinez back into a late inning relief role. Be prepared, just in case.
6) Is Merrill Kelly a post-hype sleeper…
There was some hype surrounding Kelly upon his return to the Majors in 2019, after pitching four years in the KBO, but he ultimately struggled to a 4.42 ERA over 183.1 IP. His first start of 2020 went significantly better than that, allowing 1 ER on 3 H and 1 BB, striking out 7, over 7.2 IP against the Rangers. It was a strong outing, on the surface, but the underlying numbers tell a slightly different story:
- Swinging Strikes – 12
- Groundballs – 6 (as compared to 10 flyballs)
Home runs were an issue in ’19 (1.42 HR/9) and the lone run he allowed came courtesy of the long ball. He also wasn’t generating many swings and misses (9.8% SwStr%) while posting a pedestrian 7.76 K/9. In other words, while the start was strong we wouldn’t get overly excited about it.
7) Tap the brakes on Justus Sheffield and his impact…
It was a poor start from Sheffield, as he took on the Angels, allowing 4 ER on 3 H and 4 BB, striking out 2, over 3.0 IP. He needed 67 pitches to get those 9 outs, as he struggled badly with his control and Los Angeles ultimately cashed in. That was the biggest concern that he was facing, after he struggled with walks both at Triple-A (6.71 BB/9 over 55.0 IP) and in the Majors (4.50 BB/9 over 36.0 IP) last season. If he can figure out that out at the highest level the potential is there, but until he shows signs of it he’s going to be impossible to trust.
8) Can Wil Myers be a productive option in 2020…
Playing RF yesterday Myers went 2-4 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 2 R, putting him at .250 with 2 HR and 5 RBI on the season. He’s started all five games San Diego has played, with 3 starts in RF, 1 start at 1B and 1 start at DH. That’s all promising, as is his 7 K vs. 5 BB already (.429 OBP). We all know that he’s been a bitter disappointment, with strikeouts plaguing him, but he’s continued to show a blend of power and speed while also being able to draw walks. If he can keep the strikeouts in check, and over the first four games there was hope (7.5% SwStr%, 18.0% O-Swing%), he could prove to be a difference maker. It’s just a handful of games, but it shouldn’t be ignored.
9) Brett Phillips showing off his power and speed…
Yesterday he went 1-3 with 1 R and 1 SB, a day after he went 2-4 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 3 R. That’s been the story of his career, even coming up through the minors, but the question has always been his ability to make consistent contact. At Triple-A last season he posted a 13.3% SwStr%, and he entered the day with a 12.8% mark in the Majors. Obviously we aren’t drawing any conclusions off of 9 AB, but seeing just 1 K vs. 2 BB is highly promising and should lead to increased playing time. Even at Triple-A last season he had 18 HR and 22 SB over 414 PA, showing just how much of a difference maker he could be. Small sample size or not, he has the upside that you don’t want to miss out on just in case he has figured it out.
10) Is Aaron Civale the Indians’ latest breakout starter…
In the first game of a double header Civale was strong against the White Sox, allowing 2 ER on 7 H and 1 BB, striking out 9, over 6.0 IP. Not only was he missing bats (16 swinging strikes), but he was also doing a tremendous job of generating groundballs (7 groundballs vs. 2 flyballs). That last point would be the biggest development, as he failed to generate groundballs at any level in ’19:
- Double-A (30.1 IP) – 41.6%
- Triple-A (42.1 IP) – 38.8%
- Majors (57.2 IP) – 40.5%
He has strong control and there’s strikeout potential, so if the groundballs are there he could develop into a must use option quickly.
Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs