10 Important Stories From 07/28/17 Box Scores: Tanaka Shines (But Don’t Buy Yet), Salazar Stars Again & More

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by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

Julio Teheran got battered for 8 ER on 7 H and 2 BB over 4.2 IP, as the Phillies tagged him for 3 HR (including one from the recently returned Aaron Altherr, who went 2-3 with 2 HR, 2 RBI and 2 R).  Dallas Keuchel struggled in his first start off the DL, allowing 3 ER on 6 H and 3 BB over just 3.0 IP (he needed 79 pitches).  Alex Wood got a W, but it wasn’t an impressive one (4 ER over 7.0 IP).  What else happened on the field that we need to know about?  Let’s take a look:

 

1) One start, no matter how impressive, does not mean your “back”…
Masahiro Tanaka posted one of the most impressive starts of the season, allowing 1 ER on 2 H and 0 BB, striking out 14, over 8.0 IP to defeat the Rays.  Of course the lone run came courtesy of a home run, giving him 27 HR allowed over 123.2 IP on the season, and he had allowed 12 ER over 18.0 IP in his previous three starts.  He has now gone three straight starts without a walk, though that has never been an issue in ’17 (he has only two starts with 3+ BB on the season) so as impressive as it’s been it doesn’t mean much.  It was a tremendous outing, featuring 21 swinging strikes, but until he can keep the ball in the ballpark (or continue posting starts reasonably close to this) we aren’t going to get overly excited.

 

2) Cameron Rupp is suddenly living up to the hype…
He went 2-4 with 1 HR, 1 RBI and 2 R yesterday, giving him 3 HR over his past two games and three straight two-hit games (6-12, 3 HR, 5 RBI, 4 R).  Hyped as a potential breakout catcher prior to the season, he hit just .220 with 6 HR over 173 AB in the first half.  He’s flipped the script since the All-Star Break, with 4 HR and a .375 average, though his fly ball rate is up significantly (47.1%) and he’s still swinging and missing a good amount (7 K over 24 AB).  It’s been a nice ride, and those in two-catcher formats should ride it while he’s going well, but there’s a good chance it doesn’t last.

 

3) Josh Reddick picks up the slack for the Astros…
First they lost Carlos Correa, now George Springer has hit the DL.  That doesn’t mean that Houston lacks fire power, though, and Reddick was the man to step up and help fill the gap in yesterday’s game.  Hitting third in the lineup he went 1-2 with 1 HR, 5 RBI and 1 R.  The blast was Reddick’s first since July 4, though he continues to hit for a strong average and produce overall (.307, 10 HR, 53 RBI).  He continues to show a great approach at the plate (he entered the day with a 6.6% SwStr% and 28.0% O-Swing%), while also hitting the ball hard (25.2% line drive rate) and not benefiting from significant luck (.332 BABIP).  In other words there’s little reason to think that he can’t continue to produce and pick up the slack.

 

4) Another blast for J.T. Realmuto…
We were admittedly high on Realmuto entering the season, though he’s showing why we were.  After going 3-4 with 1 HR, 1 RBI and 2 R yesterday he’s hitting .313 with 12 HR, 43 RBI, 46 R and 5 SB on the season.  You can argue that he’s benefited from a bit of luck (18.6% line drive rate, .344 BABIP), and that’s fair, though even if he were to hit .275 to go along with above average speed for a catcher (he still could reach 10 SB) and growing into his power (he entered the day with a 12.8% HR/FB, compared to a career 9.3% mark) there would be a ton to like.  Realmuto is emerging as a Top 5 catcher in baseball and should remain as such for the foreseeable future.

 

5) Andrew Cashner shuts down the Orioles…
He went 7.0 innings allowing 1 ER on 5 H and 2 BB, striking out 4, to earn the W.  He’s now allowed 3 ER or less in four straight starts, winning three games in the process, and now owns a 3.48 ERA on the season.  You would think that would make him an intriguing option, though he continues to struggles generating strikeouts (he hasn’t struck out more than 5 batters in a game all season) and has benefited from a bit of luck (.277 BABIP).  Sure the groundballs are nice, but everything coupled with lackluster control (3.93 BB/9 entering the day) makes him relatively unusable.  Nice outing, but don’t buy in.

 

6) It’s official, Danny Salazar is “back” (or is he)…
We always want to be cautious, though it was hard after Salazar’s impressive first start back for Cleveland (8 K over 7.0 one-hit innings).  He followed it up with another great start, though, allowing 2 ER on 3 H and 2 BB, striking out 8, over 6.0 innings to defeat the White Sox.  Granted he hasn’t faced imposing offenses (his other start came against the Blue Jays), but we all knew he was better than he showed earlier in the season (.366 BABIP).  He had also struggled to generate groundballs, and that’s something that was still there yesterday (4 groundballs vs. 6 fly balls) and that’s going to be something worth watching (as is his control).  It’s easy to get excited and he’s well worth owning in all formats, but he’s no lock to continue pitching like this moving forward.

 

7) Is Brent Suter worth our attention…
He beat the Cubs yesterday, tossing 7.0 shutout innings allowing 4 H and 1 BB while striking out 5.  The results are impressive, but the underlying numbers simply are not.  He hardly generated swings and misses (6), and didn’t generate a significant number of groundballs (7, as compared to 9 fly balls).  He entered the day with a 48.7% groundball rate and 9.2% SwStr%, so there is a bit more upside than what he showed yesterday, but at the end of the day he’s more of a control pitcher and little else.  That makes him more of a streaming option and not a player worth trusting.

 

8) Michael Wacha again dominant at home…
He tossed 6.0 shutout innings against the Diamondbacks, allowing 3 H and 1 BB while striking out 5 to earn the W.  The most impressive number may have been his 10 groundballs, compared to 3 fly balls, and he’s now 7-1 with a 2.67 ERA at home (as compared to a 5.49 ERA on the road).  While he has had a good road start of late, it’s still going to be hard to trust him unless the opponent gives him an obvious advantage.  While it’s easy to get excited, he remains more of a streaming option (or a player to pick and choose your spots with off your bench).

 

9) Another big day for Michael Conforto…
He did hit a bit of a slump, and it caused many to jump off the bandwagon, though things have heated back up for Conforto (who now has 6 multi-hit games in his past nine).  He went 2-5 with 2 HR, 2 RBI and 2 R, and he’s now hitting .291 with 21 HR and 54 RBI on the season.  His overall SwStr% is up this season (11.4%, compared to 9.5% in ’16), which is something we’ll need to watch, and his 26.9% HR/FB is a significant leap forward (12.2% in ’16).  Both of those things represent possible concerns, though he’s hitting the ball hard (26.5% line drive rate) and stays within the strike zone (27.6% O-Swing%).  While there are a few red flags, it doesn’t mean that he’s going to completely fall flat again either.

 

10) The Pirates Jordan Luplow makes his MLB debut…
When thinking of a Pirate outfield prospect it’s always Austin Meadows who gets mentioned, but it’s Luplow who has arrived first.  He struggled in his first game in the Majors (0-3 with 2 K), but he hit .296 with 21 HR between Double and Triple-A this season with just 61 K over 328 AB.  The 23-year old had shown some potential to grow into some power, and with Gregory Polanco on the DL it’s possible he gets a good look (though he should be a lock to play against southpaws).

Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs, MILB.com

Make sure to check out our Mid-Season Top 50 Prospects by clicking here!

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