10 Important Stories from 08/01/19 Box Scores: Pitchers To Ditch For ’19, Must Own Youngsters For The Stretch Run & More

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Zack Wheeler showed why the Mets opted to keep him at the deadline, tossing 7.0 shutout innings allowing 4 H and 0 BB, striking out 7 (with an impressive 18 swinging strikes).  It was a big day for Vladimir Guerrero, who hit two of the 5 HR for Toronto, finishing the day 3-5 with 2 HR, 4 RBI and 2 R.  Clayton Kershaw survived, despite not having great control, beating the Padres by allowing 2 ER on 6 H and 5 BB, striking out 5, over 6.0 IP.  What else happened on the field that we need to know about?  Let’s take a look:

1) Harold Ramirez delivers a walk-off home run…
He also had a triple, ending the day going 2-5 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 1 R.  Overall he’s hitting .272 with 7 HR, 33 RBI, 36 R and 2 SB over 246 AB in the Majors, though there are questions about his approach (he entered the day wit ha 12.7% SwStr% and 41.5% O-Swing%) and how much power he’s going to be able to display (he entered the day with a 60.4% groundball rate).  There is more upside in his speed and thus far strikeouts haven’t been an issue, though it’s something to keep in mind moving forward.  No one is going to confuse him with a superstar, and while he’s worth using for now don’t get too attached.

2) Dereck Rodriguez’ return to the rotation does not go well…
Making his first start since July 15 he allowed 7 R (4 earned) on 8 H and 2 BB, striking out 0, over 3.0 IP against the Phillies.  He managed just 5 swinging strikes, and a failure to miss bats has been a consistent issue whenever he’s been in the Majors this season (7.9% SwStr% entering the day).  He also allowed a home run yesterday, another consistent issue (1.47 HR/9 entering the day, courtesy of a 44.9% groundball rate).  Throw in a 45.0% Hard%, yet just a .274 BABIP, and exactly why would we consider investing?  Things could actually get worse, not better, and considering he already owns a 5.03 ERA and 1.48 WHIP that’s a scary thought.  Hard to imagine him getting many chances, but he can be safely ignored.

3) Should we trust Dylan Cease for the remainder of the season…
No one is going to question the long-term upside, though is he an option to trust for the remainder of ’19?  Taking on the Mets and Zack Wheeler he allowed 4 R (3 earned) on 7 H and 2 BB, striking out 6, over 7.0 IP to fall to 1-4 with a 6.11 ERA over 28.0 IP (5 starts).  The big red flags are the home runs allowed (he’s allowed 1 HR in each start) and the questionable control (14 BB), which obviously is never a good combination of issues.  The home run problem is something that should be corrected at some point (54.9% groundball rate at Triple-A, 47.6% entering the day), but the control was always a question (4.21 BB/0 at Triple-A).  Considering he’s also not missing many bats (9.1% SwStr% entering the day, 11 swinging strikes yesterday) he’s impossible to trust this season.

4) Will this break Matt Chapman out of his funk…
Chapman had just 1 hit in his previous 7 games (1-27, though the one hit was a home run), and after going 0-3 to start the day he picked the right time to deliver.  Chapman took Josh Hader deep in the 8th, sending the A’s to a victory.  He entered the day hitting .262 courtesy of a .284 BABIP, though with a 44.5% Hard% and impressive approach (8.6% SwStr%, 25.2% O-Swing%) it was just going to be a matter of time before he found an offensive explosion once again.  Obviously it’s just one hit, but it was a big one and it easily could be the impetus for a breakout.  Just stick with him.

5) Is it time to stop the Asher Wojciechowski hype…
Taking on the Blue Jays he allowed 4 ER on 6 H and 3 BB, striking out 5, over 4.2 IP.  He wasn’t getting many swings and misses (7) or groundballs (2 groundballs vs. 7 fly balls), which helps to explain the 2 HR he allowed yesterday.  He still has a respectable 4.15 ERA and 1.07 WHIP over 34.2 IP in the Majors, but he’s allowed 7 HR after entering the day with a 29.2% groundball rate.  Considering his 27.8% groundball rate and 2.02 HR/9 at Triple-A, and also the matchups in the AL East, is there any reason to expect an improvement?  With the ball constantly flying over the fence any other skills won’t matter.  He’s impossible to trust moving forward.

6) Danny Salazar provides a mixed bag in his return…
It’s been a long road back, and it wasn’t an easy matchup with the Astros in his first MLB appearance since 2017, but Salazar held his own.  He needed 66 pitches to get through 4.0 innings, allowing 2 ER on 4 H and 3 BB, striking out 2.  It’s hard to draw any conclusions off of such a small sample size, but he did allow 2 HR and he wasn’t missing any bats (3 swinging strikes).  He did show more while he was rehabbing in the minors (45.2% groundball rate, 11.77 K/9) and it’s easy to imagine him finding his footing and delivering value in the Majors.  That doesn’t mean he can be trusted, but in deeper formats he can be stashed to find out if he can rediscover himself.

7) Brendan McKay returns to the Majors in style…
Considering that he was taking on Boston on the road it’s hard to be discouraged with the start.  While Xander Bogaerts got him twice (he finished the day 4-4 with 2 HR, 3 RBI and 2 R), that was the only damage against McKay.  Going 5.1 innings he allowed 3 ER on 7 H and 1 BB, striking out 7 and he’s now allowed 3 ER or less in four of his five starts in the Majors.  He hasn’t been generating many groundballs in the Majors, at least not yet (he entered with a 34.5% groundball rate, though he was at 42.0% at Double-A and 48.5% at Triple-A), and that’s going to be an issue.  That said with his ability to miss bats and throw strikes it won’t stop him completely.  He should have a spot in the rotation the rest of the way and is a must own in all formats.

8) Is this the turning point for Jack Flaherty in 2019…
He delivered a gem at home against the Cardinals, tossing 7.0 shutout innings allowing 1 H and 2 BB, striking out 9.  He clearly had them all balance from the first pitching, getting 19 swinging strikes, and has now allowed 2 ER or fewer in five straight starts (4 ER over 31.1 IP).  He entered the day with a 10.31 K/9 and 2.99 BB/9, but home runs have been an issue (1.65 HR/9) and he’s been hit relatively hard (40.6% Hard%).  While a rebound was always likely, in his four starts (before this one) since July 7 he still wasn’t generating many groundballs (34.5%) and had posted a 40.0% Hard%.  That indicates those issues could creep back up so proceed with caution, though the skills are there to continue holding value.

9) Max Fried pitches well in an abbreviated outing…
The game was called due to rain after 6.0 innings, but Fried had pitched well against the Reds up until then.  He allowed 1 ER on 4 H and 0 BB, striking out 4, to improve to 12-4 with a 4.07 ERA over 115.0 IP in the Majors.  While the wins are going to grab your attention, let’s not overlook his 1.37 WHIP as he’s allowed 124 hits.  Of course a lot of that has been due to poor luck and little else, as he entered the day with a .339 BABIP courtesy of a 36.6% Hard%.  Couple an improvement there with the other skills (8.92 K/9, 2.81 BB/9 and 53.6% groundball rate) and what’s not to like?  The Braves didn’t address the rotation at the deadline, though the bigger question is how many innings will he have left in the tank?  He threw 111.1 last season, and has thrown as many as 118.2.  Maybe he’ll go to 150-160?  That should get him into mid-September, so continue rolling him out there.

10) Another monster day at the plate for Will Smith…
He’s making the Dodgers decision to turn over catching duties look like a brilliant one, going 2-4 with 1 HR, 4 RBI and 1 R.  In just 43 AB in the Majors he’s hitting .349 with 6 HR and 19 RBI, though it’s obviously easy to deduce that he won’t maintain this type of pace.  That said he should produce better than his 12 K vs. 3 BB pace indicates (he had an 18.3% strikeout rate and 14.6% walk rate while at Triple-A), and there’s no questioning the power.  While he may ultimately prove to be more of a .260ish hitter, as a catcher with power that’s more than enough (especially since he should be able to compliment it with a .350ish OBP).  He’s worth utilizing in all formats.

Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs

11 COMMENTS

  1. Saw the Salazar start – he looked terrible. His fastball velo was non-existent. Unless he puts a good 5-8 MPH on his fastball, he’s either gonna’ get shelled or reinvent himself as a completely different pitcher in short order.

    • My guess is he ultimately ends up in the bullpen, at least for the remainder of this season, but for now they’ll give him an opportunity or two to figure it out

      • Hopefully, it’s fatigue. I thought I remembered reports of him pitching in the lowish 90’s, like 93-94 during his rehab? Not sure what happened to that, but he was maxing out in the high-80’s last night. He got bailed out by double plays, and they were scorching the ball off of him. Don’t see how that lasts as a starter. We’ll see, I suppose.

    • Pineda / Mercado (though the pitchers I don’t feel quite as strongly about. When it comes to Calhoun he’s been good, but Mercado’s upside is just significantly higher

    • I’d go Smoak, because there’s a better chance that he gets regular AB. The RAys are going to use Aguilar in some sort of platoon most likely, and they have numerous other players who could get AB

    • I’d definitely roll Reyes. Duvall has been a nice story recently, but do we really believe he’s going to be able to maintain this over the long haul? I’d have my doubts

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