It was a rare Jacob deGrom start where he was actually given run support, earning the W as he allowed 2 ER on 5 H and 1 BB, striking out 10, over 6.0 IP. Walker Buehler wasn’t terrible, but he was burned by the long ball (3 HR allowed) as he went 5.0 IP allowing 3 ER on 3 H and 3 BB, striking out 3. Gerrit Cole was solid, beating the Phillies as he allowed 1 ER on 5 H and 1 BB, striking out 4, over 5.0 IP. What else happened on the field that we need to know about? Let’s take a look:
1) Is Michael Conforto going to erupt…
It was interesting to see Conforto moved into the second spot in the batting order (partly due to Jeff McNeil being scratched), but he delivered going 3-5 with 1 RBI and 2 R. He’s now hitting .325 with 1 HR and 4 RBI on the season. Obviously the power hasn’t been there, yet, though that should be there in time. Entering the day yesterday he’s shown an improved approach (10.9% SwStr%, 19.1% O-Swing%) and he’s been producing against both righties and lefties:
- vs. RHP – .300/.417/.300
- vs. LHP – .267/.389/.533
When the power starts to present itself, watch out.
2) Is it time to fully buy into Zach Plesac…
Taking on the Reds he was impressive, albeit in a losing effort, allowing 3 ER on 4 H and 1 BB, striking out 6, over 7.0 IP. Of course all of the runs came courtesy of a pair of home runs, and the underlying numbers aren’t quite as promising:
- Swinging Strikes – 10
- Groundballs-to-Flyballs – 7-to-8
The groundball rate was a concern coming out of his first start (5 groundballs vs. 8 flyballs), and it’s fair to wonder about home run issues moving forward. Still he’s up to 17 K vs. 1 BB over 15.0 IP, so it’s obvious he’s figured something out. He may not be must start, but he’s worth owning.
3) Luis Robert displays his game-changing potential…
He went 1-3 with 2 R and 2 SB, while he struck out once and walked twice. It’s been a great start to the season for Robert, who’s now hitting .350 with a .409 OBP to go along with 2 HR, 6 RBI, 8 R and 3 SB. At the same time he owns 12 K vs. 4 BB and he entered the day with highly concerning plate discipline:
- SwStr% – 25.0%
- O-Swing% – 53.3%
Thus far he’s kept the strikeouts relatively in check, but it’s only a matter of time before it becomes a significant issue. Throw in a pull heavy approach (19.2% Oppo%) and a .458 BABIP and it’s obvious where things will likely go. If you are only looking at 2020, selling high could make a lot of sense.
4) Is it time to take notice of Alec Mills…
Granted this came against the Royals, but Mills was impressive once again tossing 7.0 shutout innings allowing 3 H and 3 BB, striking out 4. Of course wasn’t generating any swings and misses (6 swinging strikes), nor was he getting a significant number of groundballs (9 groundballs vs. 7 flyballs). He now has 7 K vs. 5 BB over 13.0 IP over his first two starts, and considering he entered the day with a 7.8% SwStr% it’s hard to envision things will get better. It was a strong start, but don’t get excited as things could quickly go south once the competition gets stronger.
5) The breakout of Mike Yastrzemski continues…
Hitting atop the Giants’ order, Yastrzemski went 1-4 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 1 R, putting him at .333 with 3 HR and 7 RBI to start the season. He’s added 3 doubles and 1 triple, while he has 12 K vs. 12 BB on the season. Of course the strikeouts aren’t a concern, as he entered the day showing an improved approach (9.0% SwStr%, 18.1% O-Swing%) while he has also been hitting the ball extremely hard (45/8% Hard%). Sure it’s a small sample size, and his .455 BABIP is going to regress, but overall the numbers are just a continuation of what he did during his rookie ’19 season. There’s every reason to believe that the performance is for real.
6) Trent Grisham has fully arrived as a must start option…
He went 2-3 with 1 HR, 1 RBI and 1 R yesterday, and he’s now hitting .293 with 4 HR, 7 RBI, 11 R and 2 SB. His approach, which was impressive in his time in the Majors in ’19 (8.1% SwStr%, 22.0% O-Swing%) has amazingly been better in ’20 as he entered the day with a 6.1% SwStr% and 12.2% O-Swing%. Throw in his 46.4% Hard% and blend of power and speed (last season, between the Minors and Majors, he hit 32 HR with 13 SB) and what is there not to like? He should be a five category producer, and is a must start in all formats hitting in front of players like Manny Machado and Tommy Pham.
7) Has Frankie Montas emerged as an elite starter…
Taking on the Mariners he allowed 1 ER on 4 H and 4 BB, striking out 9, over 7.0 IP to earn the W. Over three starts he now owns a 2.25 ERA with 17 K over 16.0 IP, though he has allowed a few too many baserunners (12 H and 4 BB). His control hadn’t been an issue over the past two seasons (BB/9 of 2.91 and 2.16), so there is reason to believe that he’ll be able to get it back under control before long. He was also generating more groundballs yesterday (7 groundballs vs. 5 flyballs), showing the potential for the total package. Maybe he’s not quite elite, but he’s a Top 25 starter and one that you want to won.
8) What does another Sonny Gray gem mean…
Taking on the Indians he allowed 2 R (1 earned) on 4 H and 2 BB, striking out 8, over 6.0 IP to improve to 3-0 with a 0.96 ERA. He’s been generating groundballs at an elite rate, entering the day with a 61.9% groundball rate (he had 5 groundballs vs. 4 flyballs yesterday) to go along with strikeouts (28 K) and control (5 BB). It’s been an amazing 18.2 IP, but can it really continue? He entered the day benefiting from a .150 BABIP and his control will likely regress. There’s a good chance that his strikeout slows also, with Swinging Strike totals of 13 and 12 in his past two starts. In other words he’s a good option, but selling high may be the smartest idea as the only place he can go is down.
9) Is it time to fully believe in Gio Urshela…
It was easy to discredit his performance last season, but thus far he’s not showing signs of slowing down. After going 1-4 with 1 HR, 3 RBI and 1 R yesterday, he’s now hitting .300 with 3 HR and 9 RBI over his first 9 games. Even more impressive has been his 6 K vs. 5 BB as his plate discipline has taken a significant step in the right direction (SwStr% // O-Swing%):
- 2019 – 11.5% // 41.8%
- 2020 – 5.8% // 22.8%
If he can maintain those marks, what’s not to like? We’ll have to monitor him closely, but at this point there’s reason to believe.
10) Is Danny Duffy a viable option once again…
It was a strong outing against the Cubs, though he took the loss, allowing 1 ER on 3 H and 4 BB, striking out 6, over 6.0 IP. In 15.1 IP he has picked up 16 K vs. 5 BB, leading to a 0.91 WHIP, though he’s also benefited from a .208 BABIP and faces significant home run issues (32.0% groundball rate entering the day, before getting 7 groundballs vs. 5 flyballs yesterday). While the numbers have been solid, don’t get overly excited.
Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs