10 Important Stories From 08/04/20 Box Scores: Which Impressive Youngsters To Buy (Or Ignore), Jo Adell Arrives & More

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It wasn’t “elite”, but it was another strong performance from Shane Bieber as he improved to 3-0 with a 0.83 ERA (7.2 IP, 2 ER, 5 H, 2 BB, 8 K). Austin Meadows made his 2020 debut and made an immediate impact, going 2-4 with 1 RBI and 1 R. Mike Trout made his return, going 1-3 with 1 HR, 1 RBI and 1 R. What else happened on the field that we need to know about? Let’s take a look:

1) Maybe it’s time to write off Joe Musgrove…

Every year he’s dubbed a sleeper, and every year he ultimately is a disaster. He fell to 0-3 with a 6.75 ERA after getting beaten up by the Twins, allowing 5 ER on 6 H and 5 BB, striking out 2, over 3.1 IP. He’s now allowed 3+ ER in each of his three starts, while his control has been abysmal (11 BB over 14.2 IP). The latter point is highly concerning, because it had never been an issue before (2.15 career BB/9). He’s also simply not generating groundballs (2 groundballs vs. 6 flyballs yesterday, after entering with a 40.0% groundball rate) only complicates the matters. While there’s a chance he figures it out, he’s simply impossible to trust currently.

2) Is it time to give up on Andrew Benintendi…

Hitting atop the Red Sox lineup he struggled again, going 0-5 with 2 K. He’s now hitting a miserable .069. While he has walked 9 times, which helps those in OBP formats, he’s also now stuck out 12 times over his 29 AB. It’s a very small sample size, but he entered the day with a 12.8% SwStr% while also failing to hit the ball hard (13.3% Hard%, 7.7% Line Drive rate). Obviously the track record tells us that there’s significantly more upside but right now it’s hard to see it. He’s worth seeing if you can acquire on the cheap, but those who own him should try to stay patient.

3) Max Fried continues to emerge…

He stymied the Blue Jays over 6.0 innings, allowing 1 ER on 4 H and 2 BB, striking out 3. Of course the underlying marks may not be quite as impressive:

  • Swinging Strikes – 6
  • Groundballs – 7 (compared to 6 flyball outs)

Generally he’s a groundball machine, so that isn’t much of a concern (54.8% for his career). He also entered the day with a 15.1% SwStr% (11.5% for his career), so that should rebound as well. In other words you can argue the performance is even more impressive, considering he may not have had his best stuff.

4) Home runs help Steven Matz unravel…

Taking on the Nationals Matz allowed 5 ER on 7 H and 0 BB, striking out 3, over 3.0 IP. He’s now allowed 5 HR over 14.1 IP in three starts, while he’s also lacked strikeouts in his past two starts (6 K over 8.1 IP). It’s hard to be successful with those types of numbers. Home runs have been a continual issue (HR/9 of 1.46 or greater each of the past three years), and while we’d expect a few more strikeouts he needs to figure out how to keep the ball in the ballpark. If he doesn’t, this type of start is always going to be a risk and he’s more of a low-end option (or a streamer). There’s promise, but hard to expect a sudden complete change.

5) Has Eloy Jimenez truly arrived as a star…

He did the White Sox damage against Brandon Woodruff (6.0 IP, 2 ER, 8 H, 1 BB, 6 K), as he took him deep. Jimenez finished the day going 3-4 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 1 R, putting him at .333 with 3 HR, 8 RBI and 5 R over 33 AB to start the season. We all knew the power was there, but can he maintain this type of average? Over the long haul it’s hard to envision, as he did enter the day with questionable strike zone command (even though it’s a small step forward from ’19, he still owned a 13.2% SwStr% and 36.0% O-Swing%). Of course he also should ultimately put fewer balls on the ground (54.5% groundball rate), and with an ability to hit the ball extremely hard and a reasonable .300 BABIP the upside is there. Maybe he’s not this good, but .280+ with power in the middle of a good lineup?

6) Pablo Lopez stars in the Marlins return to the field…

Taking on the Orioles Lopez tossed 5.0 shutout innings, allowing 2 H and 0 BB while striking out 7. That said, the underlying numbers don’t stand out quite as much:

  • Swinging Strikes – 11
  • GB // FB – 4 // 4

He was lifted after just 61 pitches, as it was his 2020 debut. There was some hype surrounding Lopez prior to the season and it’s easy to see why, as long as the strikeouts improve. While this type of swinging strike total isn’t quite enough, that upside is there to go along with control and enough groundballs. While this performance was somewhat aided by the matchup, he has the stuff to thrive regardless of the opponent.

7) Another strong performance from Cristian Javier…

He outpitched Madison Bumgarner (4.1 IP, 8 R, 7 H, 2 BB, 2 K), getting the W as he allowed 1 ER on 4 H and 1 BB, striking out 2, over 6.0 IP. Javier continues to show improved control, something that has always been a question for him (2 BB over 11.2 IP as a starter this season). That said he simply wasn’t missing bats yesterday (4 swinging strikes), and while we’d expect that to be there the groundball/home run questions won’d disappear. He generated 5 groundballs vs. 10 flyballs yesterday, and with those numbers it’s only a matter of time before home runs become an issue. As we’ve seen with Robbie Ray, strikeouts are nice but it’s not enough. His upside is limited, so be careful moving forward.

8) Can Jesus Luzardo build off this impressive outing…

Taking on the Rangers Luzardo was spectacular, needing 76 pitches to throw 5.0 shutout innings. He allowed 2 H and 2 BB, striking out 5. It was his first true start of the season (he had worked 6.2 innings over a pair of relief appearances), and if the A’s are going to continue to utilize him in the rotation it’s easy to see the upside. Obviously injuries have played a role in limiting him the past few years, but across three levels in 2018 he showed across the board skills over 109.1 IP:

  • Strikeouts – 10.62 K/9 (14.6% SwStr%)
  • Control – 2.47 BB/9
  • Groundballs – 47.1%

It’s an impressive skillset, and while he may not be an ace he’s got Top 40 potential (and maybe even more than that). If he’s available, he’s worth grabbing immediately.

9) Has Dustin May entrenched himself in the Dodgers rotation…

We all know that the Dodgers’ rotation is potentially crowded, but you can easily argue that May is the third best option (behind Clayton Kershaw and Walker Buehler). He showed those skills against a tough Padres’ lineup, outpitching Dinelson Lamet (5.2 IP, 1 ER, 2 H, 2 BB, 2 K), as he allowed 2 ER on 3 H and 1 BB, striking out 8, over 6.0 IP. He was doing a great job of getting groundballs (7 groundballs vs. 2 flyballs), though he didn’t miss many bats (9 swinging strikes). That was a bit of a concern entering the season, after he posted an 8.5% SwStr% over 27.1 IP at Triple-A last season (as well as an 8.7% mark during his time in the Majors). We’d expect him to figure that out over the long-term, but in 2020 it will cap his value. Keep that in mind when you set your priorities (in other words, he falls behind Luzardo in the pecking order).

10) Jo Adell officially arrives in the Majors…

He was hitting seventh and playing RF yesterday, and the talk is that he’s going to be playing everyday (sending Brian Goodwin and Justin Upton into a platoon). Adell went 1-4 with 1 K yesterday, and the strikeout is the number that’s going to stick out right now. It was only one yesterday, but let’s not forget that he posted a 15.3% SwStr% in the minors last season (including time at Triple-A). He’s young and is going to learn, but can he keep the strikeouts in check at 21-years old? Can he make enough contact to make an immediate impact? There’s obvious talent and he needs to be added in all formats, but we also need to keep expectations in check.

Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs

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