10 Important Stories from 08/14/19 Box Scores: Young Players Grabbing Headlines (Jimenez, Grisham), Could Hot Streaks Be On The Horizon & More

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Tommy Pham made his return to the lineup and produced immediately, going 2-4 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 1 R. Stephen Strasburg got the W, but it was still a somewhat disappointing performance as he fell short of the quality start (5.2 IP, 4 ER, 7 H, 3 BB, 4 K). Cole Hamels imploded against the Phillies, allowing 8 ER on 9 H and 2 BB, striking out 2, over 2.0 IP. What else happened on the field that we need to know about? Let’s take a look:

1)Is there value in the Orioles’ Renato Nunez…
It’s easy to overlook any player in Baltimore, given how bad they are overall, but Nunez has some under-the-radar appeal. Hitting cleanup he went 5-5 with 2 RBI and 2 R yesterday, and while he still has a mediocre .246 AVG he has added 26 HR and 68 RBI. While his approach still isn’t great he’s shown improvements this season (12.7% SwStr%, 35.5% O-Swing% entering the day), and he’s also hit the ball extremely well (40.0% Hard%). While a few too many fly balls may limit his ability to hit for a strong average, .260ish is possible (he entered the day with a .262 BABIP). Given his power that would be enough, so don’t make the mistake of sleeping on him.

2) Xander Bogaerts breaks his power drought in a big way…
He finished the day 3-4 with 2 HR, 4 RBI and 2 R, breaking a 12 game homerless streak (he had just 3 doubles and 0 triples as well). Obviously it’s easy to overlook the cold spell, considering he’s still hitting .305 with 27 HR and 90 RBI and 92 R (as well as adding 39 doubles). It’s interesting because most of the underlying metrics have remained the same from last year (when he hit .288 with 23 HR in 513 AB) and this year, the biggest differences is a drop in his popup rate (10.8% to 3.8%) and a significant rise in his fly ball rate (35.6% to 41.9%). With a somewhat pull heavy approach can he maintain a .334 BABIP moving forward? It’s not to say that he’s going to completely fall off a cliff, but there’s the potential for further regression moving forward.

3) It was a big day for Eloy Jimenez and the Chicago White Sox…
Chicago beat the Astros piling up 13 runs on 15 hits. Obviously there were a lot of contributors, but Jimenez’ day was the most notable. While his rookie season has been viewed as a bit of a disappointment up until this point, he did go 2-5 with 1 HR, 1 RBI and 3 R yesterday. He does have 20 HR and 46 RBI in his 313 AB, though he’s added just 10 doubles and he’s struggled significantly with his ability to make consistent contact (15.3% SwStr%). It’s likely that this is nothing more than simple growing pains of a rookie, especially since opposing pitchers haven’t thrown him many fastballs (42.8%). With experience he should adjust and there’s no doubt that the power is for real. Don’t make the mistake of losing hope this quickly.

4) Trent Grisham thrives atop the Milwaukee lineup…
With Ryan Braun getting the day off Grisham was hitting in the leadoff spot and impressed, going 2-4 with 1 HR, 3 RBI and 2 R. He has been getting fairly regular playing time of late (partly due to the missed time for Christian Yelich) and he’s showing what he’s capable of hitting .314 with 2 HR, 8 RBI and 6 R over 35 AB. Let’s not forget that in 370 AB in the minors he was hitting .300 with 26 HR and 12 SB as he showed a terrific approach (7.8% SwStr%, 15.2% walk rate). It will be interesting to see how the Brewers continue to find AB for Grisham, though he deserves the opportunity to show what he can do. It’s definitely possible that Braun starts to see some time at 1B, while he also could get more rest (as could Lorenzo Cain) as a way to keep Grisham in the lineup on a fairly regular basis.

5) A strong start for Cal Quantrill against the Rays…
He allowed 2 ER on 3 H and 1 BB, striking out 4, over 5.1 IP to improve to 6-3 with a 3.23 ERA and 1.12 WHIP over 75.1 IP. He’s now allowed 2 ER or fewer in six straight starts and has just 1 BB over 17.1 IP across his past three starts (2.31 BB/9 entering the day). He hasn’t generated many strikeouts (7.33 K/9), though an 11.2% SwStr% entering the day shows that there’s a little bit more upside there (he had 11 swinging strikes yesterday). The somewhat bigger concern is a 39.8% Hard%, which could lead to a significant regression in his .266 BABIP and potentially a few more home runs (45.4% groundball rate). That’s not to say that there isn’t upside and appeal, just know that there could be a few bumps along the way.

6) Matt Chapman breaks out of his cold spell…
We talked about the struggles yesterday (click here to view), but he quickly made us forget about those by going 2-4 with 2 HR, 2 RBI and 3 R. He actually now has a modest five-game hitting streak and while the cold spell makes you forget a bit, he’s still hitting .254 with 27 HR, 67 RBI and 74 R overall this season. As we said yesterday, it’s possible that he’s starting to get a little bit home run happy (42.1% fly ball rate entering the day) and that could be helping to cap his BABIP (.274) and in turn his average. Even if things stay the course a hot streak shouldn’t be unexpected, but if he can get the BABIP to rise he could really be scorching hot before long.

7) Trevor Bauer takes it on the chin against the Nationals…
He lasted just 4.1 IP and was charged with 9 ER on 8 H and 2 BB, striking out 4. The biggest issue was the 2 HR allowed, and he’s now failed to go 5.0 innings in three of his past four starts (including his last start with the Indians). He’s not getting as many groundballs this season (39.4% entering the day) and that has led to a spike in his home runs allowed (1.23 HR/9). Maybe it’s because he’s been throwing his curveball less (26.7% to 20.4%) and his cutter more (10.1% to 15.1%), but regardless he’s getting hit harder overall (39.7% Hard%). We all know the potential, but he needs to make the adjustments.

8) Rhys Hoskins shows signs with a move in the lineup…
He was bumped to the leadoff spot and it seemed to suit him, at least a little bit, as he went 1-3 with 1 RBI and 2 R. Obviously it’s not a “breakout” performance so to speak, and it’s easy to overlook the move with Bryce Harper (3-3, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 2 R) and Aaron Nola (7.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 H, 1 BB, 7 K) starring. Obviously the move may not be an ideal one in regards to his RBI, his .381 OBP fits well atop of the lineup and if he starts hitting it’ll be well worth it (and he should score ample runs with Harper and others hitting behind him). Let’s assume the move isn’t a permanent one and once he gets going he’ll slide back down the batting order, but for now make sure you have ample RBI production elsewhere.

9) Could Edwin Rios find a path to playing time in Los Angeles…
Obviously Clayton Kershaw opening the game with 7 straight strikeouts is going to get the bulk of the attention (he finished with 7.0 shutout innings allowing 2 H and 0 BB, striking out 10), but Rios starred offensively after getting the start at 1B. He finished the day going 3-4 with 2 HR, 3 RBI and 3 R, and is it impossible that Bellinger sees more time in CF (where he was yesterday) to free up AB for Rios? There had been rumblings that it could be Max Muncy shifting to 1B, freeing up 2B for Gavin Lux, but that hasn’t happened yet. While it seems unlikely, Rios is quite capable with the bat and could keep it from happening as long as he makes consistent contact. In 659 AB at Triple-A over the past two seasons he’s hitting .284 with 35 HR (as well as 46 doubles and 2 triples), but a 17.5% SwStr% will likely be exposed in the Majors with significant playing time. The power is real and he’s worth streaming if he’s going well, but he could easily struggle quickly.

10) Chris Archer shows signs of turning things around…
He was surprisingly outpitched by Dillon Peters (6.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 H, 1 BB, 6 K), but that shouldn’t take away from the performance of Archer. He lasted 5.0 IP allowing 4 R (3 earned) on 5 H and 2 BB, striking out 10. He generated 15 swinging strikes as well as 4 groundballs vs. 1 fly ball and he now has 19 K over his past two starts. Over his past three he’s allowed 6 ER over 17.0 IP, while he hasn’t given up a HR and has 25 K vs. 4 BB. Are we simply buying this as a “true” breakout? Obviously not so quick, but there’s potential and it shouldn’t be completely ignored either.

Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs

8 COMMENTS

  1. Professor,
    You’ve really been on the mark even more than usual lately and always value reading your entries. Here’s one for you…

    Any buzz or thoughts on the approach of innings limits for:
    – Caleb Smith & Chris Paddack who both seem within 20 or less of max IP (~ 3-4 starts)?
    – Houser, who seems within 30 of max IP (~ 5 starts)?
    – Joe Ross, who’s been limited by injury for several years and is otherwise in line for 8-10 more starts (not incl. poss playoff games)?
    – Danny Salazar, who, depending on Cleveland’s approach, may be very limited after imminent return?

    I’m sure there are several more out there that just aren’t on my personal radar as well.

    Thanks in advance. – T

    • First off thanks for the support!

      As for the pitchers:

      – Paddack has been an obvious shutdown candidate since Opening Day. He only threw 90 innings last year and I’d expect him to be done by mid-September (probably sooner)

      – Smith – He’s actually thrown as many as 135 innings in a season before and is already 28-years old. I think they’ll push him further and he could be pitching deep into September (maybe he’s shutdown before his last start)

      – Houser – He threw about 120.0 IP a few years ago so I could see them pushing him more into the 130-140 range. Ride him for now

      – Ross – They may be cautious, but they’ll also probably shift him to the bullpen for the playoffs so I wouldn’t be concerned

      – Salazar – He’ll be limited, but he also could be out of the bullpen

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