The Rays continue to limit Blake Snell, who was pulled after 3.0 shutout innings (59 pitches) as he allowed 0 H and 2 BB while striking out 5. It was yet another dominant start for Trevor Bauer, allowing 1 ER on 3 H and 1 BB, striking out 12, over 6.0 IP to defeat the Brewers. Mookie Betts returned to the lineup and delivered, going 2-4 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) Can Masahiro Tanaka be a dominant starter…
Taking on the Rays he tossed a gem for 5.0 innings, allowing 1 H and 0 BB while striking out 5. The Yankees are clearly still getting him stretched out, but by this next start he should be close to 75-80 pitches. The key will be if Tanaka can continue to generate strikeouts, after he saw his K/9 fall to 7.37 a year ago. If he can, then with his control and enough groundballs he should be a solid option. Time will tell, but he’s worth owning as a mid-tier starter.
2) Is it time to give up on Matthew Boyd…
It was an absolute disaster of an outing for Boyd, who allowed 7 ER on 8 H and 3 BB, striking out 5, over 4.2 IP. He allowed a pair of home runs, including one to Erik Gonzalez (who finished the night going 3-4 with 1 HR, 6 RBI and 1 R). Boyd has now allowed 4+ R in each of his three starts, with a total of 15 ER on 23 H and 5 BB over 14.2 IP. The southpaw entered the day with a 25.7% groundball rate, before generating 4 groundballs vs. 4 flyballs yesterday, so it’s no surprise that home runs have been an issue (1.63 HR/9 for his career). Throw in a drop in his SwStr% this season (though he did get 10 swinging strikes yesterday) and it’s hard to trust him. At this point he’s better left to be stashed on your bench.
3) One bad inning spoils Michael Wacha’s night…
Wacha was actually really good, but he made one big mistake (a home run to Francisco Cervelli, who went 1-4 with 1 HR, 3 RBI and 1 R). At the end of the day he allowed 4 ER on 6 H and 2 BB, striking out 9, over 5.0 IP and has now failed to go past 5.0 innings in any of his three starts while allowing 4+ ER in each of his past two. The ceiling isn’t that high at this point and Marcus Stroman is closing in on a return, so could Wacha pitch his way out of the rotation? Today’s start by David Peterson could ultimately determine that fate.
4) Dylan Cease wins, despite a less than stellar start…
Sure he tossed 5.0 shutout innings against the Indians, but he allowed 2 H and 5 BB while striking out 4. It’s the first time he’s had control issues this season, but let’s not forget that it has always been the biggest issue hanging over him (4.32 BB/9 last season). Throw in the potential for continued home run issues, and while he got the W this should not be considered a positive start. Selling high could make sense.
5) After a big night, is it time to take Alex Verdugo seriously…
We’ve typically been lower on Alex Verdugo than most, but after 2-3 with 2 HR, 2 RBI and 2 R, do we need to reevaluate that position? He’s now hitting .294 with 3 HR, 4 RBI, 5 R and 0 SB, so outside of the average where is the number that we should be focusing on? As we dig into the underlying number, things don’t get much rosier either:
- Groundball Rate – 73.1%
- Hard% – 38.5%
- Oppo% – 19.2%
It’s a small sample size, but he’s pull heavy on the ground and that’s simply not going to yield great results. Ultimately he may figure it out, but it ultimately may not be in 2020.
6) Nick Castellanos continues to show that he needed out of Detroit…
He went 2-5 with 1 HR, 3 RBI and 2 R yesterday, putting Castellanos at .340 with 7 HR and 16 RBI on the season. While we’d still like to see him improve his command of the strike zone (15.3% SwStr%, 36.7% O-Swing%) and maybe (ok, it’s likely) that he doesn’t maintain his current 43.8% HR/FB, it’s obvious that he’s going to remain a highly productive option. His .345 BABIP isn’t outrageous, he uses the entire field and continues to hit the ball extremely hard. He’s going to slow down at some point, but that doesn’t mean run away. He’s going to continue to produce and be a good option for 2020.
7) Poor defense & awful control create a bad night for Griffin Canning…
When you give up 3 unearned runs it’s obvious that your defense didn’t do you any favors, but Canning’s bad night goes deeper than that. Needing 88 pitches to finish 3.2 IP, he allowed 4 R (1 ER) on 3 H and 6 BB, striking out 4. While he does own a 3.14 ERA, he has allowed 13 H and 10 BB over 14.1 IP so he’s had a fair amount of traffic on the bases. Considering how hard he’s been hit, even dating back to ’19 (42.0% Hard% for his career), and the fact that his velocity is down thus far in ’20 (92.4 mph on his fastball) there are obvious reasons to be concerned.
8) It was a home run party against Luke Weaver…
Weaver only allowed 2 H, but both left the yard as he finished allowing 2 ER on 2 H and 1 BB, striking out 3, over 3.0 IP against the Padres. He’s now allowed 5 HR over his first three starts (10.1 IP), helping to lead to an abysmal 12.19 ERA and 2.13 WHIP. Obviously no one could’ve expected it to be this bad, but he’s generally never been a groundball pitcher and the Hard% has been regressing (and is down right ugly this season):
- 2017 – 25.9%
- 2018 – 36.0%
- 2019 – 43.7%
- 2020 – 68.8%
Maybe he figures it out? Right now, however, he needs to be planted on your bench and nowhere else.
9) Should Wilmer Flores be owned in more formats…
He went 2-4 with 1 HR, 1 RBI and 1 R, leaving him at .340 with 3 HR and 8 RBI on the season. It’s interesting, because his 20.0% HR/FB isn’t unreasonable, he’s been hitting the ball extremely hard (51.1% Hard%) and he’s showing a great ability to make consistent contact (6.4% SwStr%). Generally viewed as more of a platoon player, in the early going he’s hitting .375 against right-handed pitchers. Obviously this could all be the result of a short sample size, but in a 60 game season would it be shocking if he kept it going? Grab him now just in case.
10) So much for Yusei Kikuchi figuring things out…
Coming off a tremendous start people were ready to buy into Kikuchi, but things turned quickly. Taking on the Rockies, in Seattle, Kikuchi allowed 4 ER on 6 H and 1 BB, striking out 3, over 5.2 IP. He was getting groundballs (10 GB vs. 4 FB), but he also was consistently behind hitters (first pitch strikes to 11 out of 24 hitters) and didn’t generate many swings and misses (10 swinging strikes). That said, and it’s a small sample size, but the overall underlying metrics do still point towards a rebound coming:
- Strikeouts – 9.39 K/9 (12.2% SwStr%)
- Control – 3.52 BB/9
- Groundballs – 57.5%
All it will take is a little bit of improved luck (.350 BABIP, 55.0% strand rate) for the results to consistently be there. Just stay patient.
Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs