10 Important Stories from 08/22/19 Box Scores: Bigger Name Starters To Give Up On, Identifying The “Real” Breakouts & More

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Max Scherzer pitched well in his debut, allowing 1 ER on 4 H and 1 BB, striking out 3, over 4.0 IP. Gerrit Cole dominated the Tigers over 7.0 shutout innings allowing just 2 H and 1 BB, striking out 12. Gleyber Torres enjoyed a big day, going 4-4 with 2 HR, 2 RBI and 3 R, in a losing effort. What else happened on the field that we need to know about? Let’s take a look:

1)Has Jeff Samardzija truly turned back the clock…
He took the loss because Kyle Hendricks was just slightly better (7.0 IP, 0 R, 3 H, 0 BB, 7 K), but that doesn’t take a way from Samardzija’s performance. He allowed 1 ER on 2 H and 1 BB, striking out 4, over 7.0 IP and he’s now allowed 2 ER or fewer in six straight starts (and nine of his past ten). While it’s easy to get excited, and he’s been on a tremendous stretch, there’s every reason to believe that he can’t maintain it. He’s been hit had all season (41.8% Hard%) yet owns a .249 BABIP… Home runs could easily become a significant issue (36.3% groundball rate)… While he currently owns a 3.44 ERA and 1.08 WHIP, it’s a tough to sell to consider him a trustworthy option the rest of the way.

2) The Rays’ Willy Adames is trying to become a viable option…
He went 3-4 with 1 HR, 3 RBI and 1 R yesterday to lead the team to victory over the Orioles, but this has been more than a one game surge. He’s now hitting .328 with 3 HR in 67 AB in August (.289 with 6 HR since the All-Start Break). While his overall numbers aren’t overly impressive, he owns a 42.1% Hard% overall (meaning there’s room for improvement in his .313 BABIP) and his 16.7% HR/FB was believable. Throw in improvements in his strikeout rate (21.2% in the second half) and there’s a lot to like. He may not be a true difference maker, but he should help across the board (though not much of a stolen base threat) making him a solid option as a middle infielder.

3) Is Steven Brault a pitcher who belongs on radars…
He pitched well against the Nationals, taking a tough luck loss, allowing 2 ER on 7 H and 1 BB, striking out 4, over 6.0 IP. He’s certainly had his struggles at times this season and while his 3.98 ERA is solid, his 1.41 WHIP is rather unsightly. His control hasn’t been great (4.29 BB/9 entering the day) and there’s the risk of home run issues at some point (0.93 HR/9, though a 44.5% groundball rate). Throw in a strikeout rate that’s never going to be elite (9.5% SwStr%) and he’s more of a streaming option when the situation calls for it. Simply put don’t do anything dramatic to acquire him at this point.

4) Aaron Civale tries to prove that he belongs in the Indians’ rotation…
Taking on the Mets on the road he pitched well, allowing 2 ER on 4 H and 0 BB, striking out 3, over 5.2 IP (a rain delay forced him from the game after just 83 pitches). Civale has allowed 2 ER or fewer in all five of his starts, leading to a 1.82 ERA and 0.91 WHIP over 29.2 IP. It’s hard to argue against the results but he hasn’t shown much swing and miss stuff (8.6% SwStr% before just 6 swinging strikes yesterday), he’s been hit relatively hard (41.5% Hard% entering the day) and while he’s yet to allow a home run it’s just a matter of time (38.5% groundball rate). While it’s hard to say he shouldn’t be started, at the same time there’s likely an implosion coming before long. Proceed with extreme caution.

5) Has Michael Soroka truly emerged as one of the elite…
Sure it was against the Marlins but he was tremendous again, albeit in a no decision, as he allowed 2 ER on 5 H and 0 BB, striking out 5, over 7.0 IP. He now owns a 2.41 ERA and 1.08 WHIP over 141.2 IP, doing the job with tremendous control (2.21 BB/9) and the ability to generate groundballs (54.0% before getting 12 groundballs vs. 4 fly balls yesterday). While his 7.15 K/9 is a slight knock, a 10.5% SwStr% and 35.2% O-Swing% does indicate that there’s a little bit more upside there. Sure an 80.0% strand rate indicates that there could be some bumps at some point, it’s hard not to consider him a Top 25 type starter.

6) Has Miles Mikolas become a drop option…
Pitching at home, where he’s generally been strong, Mikolas struggled allowing 5 ER on 8 H and 0 BB, striking out 3, over 6.0 IP against the Rockies. He’s now allowed 5 ER in each of his past three starts, including two starts at home, and he now owns a 4.43 ERA over 148.1 IP overall this season. While he continues to show great control (1.52 BB/9 overall this season), he’s been hit significantly harder than last year (32.6% Hard% to 40.1%) and he continues to struggle generating many strikeouts. It’s getting harder to even recommend him as a streaming option, given the recent struggles, and depending on what’s on the waiver wire he can be considered a droppable option.

7) The Astros’ Abraham Toro makes his MLB debut, but do we care…
It appears he’s been called up to fill 3B, with Alex Bregman shifting to SS while Carlos Correa is sidelined. Toro went 0-4 yesterday, but he was hitting .324 with 17 HR, 80 RBI and 82 R split between Double and Triple-A prior to his recall. He’s added 31 doubles and 4 triples, signaling that there is plenty of power in his bat, and his 82 K vs. 58 BB over 442 AB shows a strong approach. He has the potential to deliver, especially in a short spurt as opposing pitchers learn and adjust to him, making well worth the speculative addition if you have a need.

8) Yoan Moncada returned from the IL and made an impact…
Slotted right into the cleanup spot he went 2-4 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 1 R, picking up right where he left off. He’s now hitting .303 with 21 HR and 7 SB over 376 AB as he is trying to prove that his breakout is for real. The power has spiked this season (21.4% HR/FB), and while that’s believable there are at least some concerning numbers behind the “breakout”. While he’s hit the ball hard, can he really maintain a .383 BABIP? How about keeping the strikeouts in check, despite a 14.6% SwStr% and 33.2% O-Swing%? Those two things indicate that his average may tumble at some point, and while that doesn’t make him unusable it just means you need to keep a close eye on things.

9) The inconsistency of Masahiro Tanaka continues…
He allowed 5 ER on 8 H and 2 BB, striking out 5, over 6.0 IP to take a loss in Oakland. He’s now allowed 4+ ER in six of his past ten starts (and 9 of his past 15) making it nearly impossible to trust him. The question now is what’s gone wrong? Home runs have obviously been an issue, though that shouldn’t be a surprise (1.44 HR/9 in ’19, 1.35 for his career). The bigger issues are the regression in his Hard% (40.2%) as well as his strikeouts (7.26 K/9 courtesy of a 10.4% SwStr%). Given his injury history is this the new norm or can we expect him to figure it out? There’s still value, at least in the future, but for the remainder of ’19 he’s extremely tough to trust.

10) Who is Jacob Waguespack and could he hold value…
He certainly put his name on the map yesterday, shutting down the Dodgers with 7.0 innings allowing 0 R on 1 H and 1 BB, striking out 5. In 52.0 IP in the Majors he owns a 3.63 ERA and 1.17 WHIP, so he clearly deserves at least a little bit of attention. Can he maintain it, though? He’s benefited from a .267 BABIP despite a 38.5% Hard% and it’s also hard to envision him maintaining this type of control that he’s shown (2.42 BB/9, after posting a 4.27 at Triple-A). Throw in pitching in the AL East, as well as his home run rate rising (1.04 HR/9, after a 1.54 at Triple-A) and it’s going to be a hard sell moving forward.

Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs, MILB.com

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