10 Important Stories from 08/17/19 Box Scores: Which Breakout Bats To Trust, And Which To Ignore (Jimenez/McMahon), Must Use Starters Emerge & More

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It was another big day for Yordan Alvarez, going 2-3 with 2 HR, 3 RBI and 2 R in a losing effort against the A’s. It was just another day at the office for Christian Yelich, who went 5-6 with 2 HR, 4 RBI, 3 R and 1 SB in a wild game with the Nationals. Jake deGrom got the W against the Royals, allowing 1 ER on 3 H and 2 BB, striking out 5, over 7.0 IP. What else happened on the field that we need to know about? Let’s take a look:

1)What to make of James Paxton moving forward…
He kept the ball in the ballpark yesterday, which is a small victory of late (he had allowed 11 HR over his past six starts), and got the W against Cleveland it was ultimately a rather disappointing performance. Over 5.0 IP he allowed 4 ER on 6 H and 3 BB, striking out 4 to leave him with a 4.53 ERA and 1.43 WHIP over 113.1 IP. It’s not a significant surprise that home runs have been an issue, considering he entered the day with a 37.7% groundball rate and calls Yankee Stadium home, but his control has also taken a significant step backwards (3.41 BB/9 entering the day, 3.82 since the All-Star Break). While a 2.89 ERA over 18.2 IP in August entering the day may have given the sense of optimism, don’t overlook his 96.8% strand rate and .186 BABIP. In other words he’s nearly impossible to trust for an extended stretch at the moment.

2) Steven Brault loses, but grabs our attention in the process…
It is easy to say he was the more impressive pitcher, despite Jon Lester getting the win (6.0 IP, 0 R, 4 H, 5 BB, 3 K), as he allowed 1 ER on 2 H and 1 BB, striking out 8, over 7.0 IP. Obviously the overall results this season wouldn’t catch your attention (4.06 ERA, 1.42 WHIP) and he also has shown pedestrian skills across the board (7.90 K/9, 4.58 BB/9, 44.2% groundball rate). It’s all a bit skewed by his time out of the bullpen, as he entered the day with a 3.74 ERA as a starter and an overall better skill set. Are we running to the waiver wire to scoop him up? Obviously not, but there’s at least some spot starter potential.

3) Does the Mariners’ Austin Nola warrant our attention…
He went 2-4 with 1 HR, 1 RBI and 2 R yesterday, and while he’s generally flown under-the-radar he’s now hitting .310 with 5 HR, 12 RBI and 18 R over 116 AB. He has also added 7 doubles and 1 triple (he had 23 extra base hits in 196 AB at Triple-A, including 7 HR), making you think that there is a little bit of power in his bat. While his approach isn’t bad (10.9% SwStr%), a .380 BABIP entering the day despite a 33.3% Hard% is a significant red flag that the average could regress significantly. He also has some power, but he’s not going to be a difference in that regard either. In other words he’s the type of player to stream while he’s going well (like he is now), but don’t get attached because things could turn quickly.

4) The breakout from Ryan Yarbrough continues…
Are we going to get overly excited about a start against the Tigers? We shouldn’t, but that doesn’t mean that it wasn’t impressive. Going 6.1 shutout innings (needing just 83 pitches) he allowed 3 H and 0 BB, striking out 10. That alone catches your eye, but he also generated 19 swinging strikes as well as 6 groundballs vs. 2 fly balls. He’s now allowed 6 H and 0 BB, striking out 18, over his past 15.0 IP and he owns a 3.34 ERA and 0.88 WHIP over 105.0 IP. It’ll be interesting to see if he can maintain this type of strikeout pace, having entered the day with a 9.5% SwStr%, though he’s shown it before (9.10 K/9 at Triple-A last season). The bigger risk is in home runs ultimately biting him (45.6% groundball rate entering the day, yet a 0.82 HR/9). That said he’s avoided hard contact (29.0%) and has elite control, so if the strikeouts continue to rise he could ultimately develop into a Top 30 starter.

5) A solid effort for Dinelson Lamet, but can he be trusted…
Taking on the Phillies he got the W, allowing 3 ER on 6 H and 1 BB, striking out 6, over 6.0 IP. His one big mistake was a home run to J.T. Realmuto (2-4, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R) and he showed plenty of swing and miss stuff (16 swinging strikes). While pitching in San Diego helps, home runs are something that have been an issue at times since returning (6 HR allowed, 35.4% groundball rate) and his control has been generally spotty (4.11 BB/9 entering the day). The latter isn’t unexpected, having missed all of 2018, and these two things make him a difficult player to trust for every start the rest of the way. There is some streaming appeal, at least, but know the risks before simply setting him and forgetting him.

6) Eduardo Rodriguez steps up and delivers an ace-like effort…
On the heels of the news that Chris Sale was hitting the IL, with a bit of an ominous undertone, seeing Rodriguez step up and deliver was a welcome site. Sure it was against the Orioles but he still tossed 7.1 shutout innings allowing 4 H and 2 BB, striking out 4. It was a nice bounce back after a poor showing against the Indians his last time out and overall he’s shown enough across the board to think that he could turn a corner at some point (8.92 K/9, 3.44 BB/9 and 47.1% groundball rate entering the day). The groundball rate was a career best, and he further improved it yesterday (11 groundballs vs. 6 fly balls), yet home runs have generally been an issue (1.35 HR/9). Couple all of that with a .308 BABIP and a 4.70 ERA on the road and everything points to positive things. If your trade deadline hasn’t passed, he could prove to be an ideal trade target.

7) Yet another big day for Danny Santana…
There was a time that Santana was viewed as a hyped prospect, though he had fallen off the map for some time. Well he’s thrust his name squarely back on radars with a breakout campaign, and now we have to wonder if he can remain a must use option for the next few years (not just the remainder of ’19). He went 2-5 with 2 HR, 4 RBI and 2 R yesterday, putting him at .309 with 21 HR, 58 RBI, 63 R and 13 SB over 346 AB. Even with his 45.7% Hard% a .384 BABIP is nearly a lock to regress, and you have to wonder if he can maintain a 22.6% HR/FB. Couple all that with a poor approach (15.8% SwStr%, 43.4% O-Swing%) and a regression would appear to be a near given. Maybe it won’t come in ’19, as he’s proven capable of maintaining it for now, but long-term it’s hard to fully buy into this breakout.

8) Logan Webb thrives in his MLB debut…
He had plenty of offense behind him (Kevin Pillar went 5-5 with 1 RBI and 3 R, Brandon Belt went 2-5 with 1 HR, 6 RBI and 1 R), but it was Webb who starred against the Diamondbacks. Going 5.0 innings he allowed 2 R (1 earned) on 5 H and 1 BB, striking out 7. He predictable was generating ample groundballs (6 groundballs vs. 2 fly balls), after posting a 64.6% groundball rate over 58.1 IP in the minor leagues. Couple that with a 12.7% SwStr% and impressive control (2.31 BB/9) and the total package is there to thrive. He has plenty of innings left in the tank, after missing time due to injury, and he figures to be a prominent waiver wire target. We’ll be releasing our updated pitching targets later today, but figure him to be near the top and a must grab in all formats.

9) Ryan McMahon enjoys a big day in Coors Field…
He went 2-4 with 2 HR, 2 RBI and 2 R, and he’s now homered in three straight games (4 HR) and in four of his past five. It’s been a well timed surge, and he’s now hitting .269 with 17 HR and 63 RBI over 350 AB. That said there are a few key numbers that can’t be ignored, like his struggles on the road (.226 with 4 HR, compared to .306 with 13 HR at Coors) as well as the significant strikeout issues (he entered the day with a 28.5% strikeout rate courtesy of a 15.1% SwStr%). Those two things are going to keep him as more of a plug and play option when they are playing at home, because it’s impossible to trust him away from Coors Field.

10) Is Eloy Jimenez starting to figure things out…
He went 2-4 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 1 R yesterday and while he’s hitting .240 with 21 HR overall he has been better in August (.268 with 4 HR and 10 RBI over 71 AB). The key could be a significant improvement in his strikeout rate, with just 16 K thus far (he entered the day with a 27.3% strikeout rate). Of course he entered the day with a 16.1% SwStr% and 38.7% O-Swing%, so it would seem to be more of an aberration than an evolution. No one is going to doubt his power and he remains a must own option, but we also can’t overlook the risks in terms of his AVG the rest of the way. That’ll limit his value, though doesn’t eliminate it. If others lose hope, he could evolve into a great breakout candidate in 2020.

Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs

6 COMMENTS

  1. Hoping that updated pitching targets column comes soon. (I’ve got to believe Webb and Houser are coming in higher than Mitch Keller is.)
    T

    • It’ll be either today or tomorrow, but after tonight’s performance I’d agree. Webb is going to be the top target, for as long as he’s part of the rotation, and Houser isn’t going to be far behind (my initial had them at #2/3, but that was before Keller’s implosion).

    • If it’s a keeper league it’s definitely an intriguing move. Webb is a player clearly on the rise and he has the skillset to be a Top 30 type starter in short order. If you are looking long-term he’s definitely the player to own (though I wonder if you could’ve gotten a “kicker” for Smith, who is a more proven commodity)

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