10 Important Stories from 08/23/19 Box Scores: Can We Trust These Young Starters (Paddack, Cease & More), Which Veterans Can Be Cut & More

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In what has become commonplace, Jacob deGrom gave a dominant effort but settled for a no decision as he allowed 1 ER on 4 H and 1 BB, striking out 13, over 7.0 IP against the Braves. Lance Lynn struggled, allowing 7 ER on 11 H and 2 BB, striking out 10, over 5.2 IP and has now walked 13 over his past 22.2 IP. James Paxton was dominant in Los Angeles, outpitching Hyun-Jin Ryu (7 ER over 4.1 IP) as he allowed 2 ER on 5 H and 0 BB, striking out 11, over 6.2 IP. What else happened on the field that we need to know about? Let’s take a look:

1)Another dud from Jon Lester, so is it time to lose hope…
While Anibal Sanchez (8.1 IP, 1 ER, 1 H, 2 BB, 6 K), Lester struggled allowing 6 ER on 9 H and 1 BB, striking out 2, over 4.1 IP. He’s now allowed at least 4 ER in four of his past seven starts, and even in his 6.0 shutout frames his last time out he allowed 9 base runners (4 H and 5 BB). In his past 7 starts (37.1 IP) he’s allowed 53 H and 15 BB so it’s obviously been a fairly miserable stretch (and helps to support the overall 4.49 ERA and 1.45 WHIP). His velocity is down this season (90.4 mph on his fastball entering the day) and that has helped lead to an inflated Hard% (38.8%). In other words it’s impossible to trust him moving forward.

2) A strong rebound from Mitch Keller…
He made one mistake, as Aristedes Aquino took him deep (he finished going 3-4 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 1 R), but overall it was arguably the best we’ve seen from Keller. Going 6.0 IP he allowed 1 ER on 6 H and 1 BB, striking out 9, as he generated an impressive 19 swinging strikes on the night. Keller has stumbled consistently in the Majors, but the Pirates appear to be committed to giving him an extended look over the remainder of the season. It makes sense, as they look to get him primed to hit the ground running from Opening Day 2020. There may be some lumps, but don’t completely write him off as the upside is simply too high. Don’t be surprised if he makes an impact over the remainder of the season.

3) Have the Rays resurrected Trevor Richards…
Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, as the performance did come against the Orioles. He did toss 6.0 shutout innings allowing 2 H and 1 BB, striking out 5, as he generated 16 swinging strikes on the night. Of course he also wasn’t generating many groundballs (5 groundballs vs. 8 fly balls), and home runs have been one of the biggest issues he’s faced this season (1.33 HR/9 entering the day courtesy of a 36.0% fly ball rate). Throw in a 42.4% Hard% (40.3% for his career) and pitching in the AL East does anyone really want to trust him? There’s no guarantee that there’s going to be consistent starts moving forward anyways, and even if he sticks he’s not going to want to be trusted.

4) Could Mike Foltynewicz be a useful option down the stretch…
He pitched well against the Mets yesterday allowing 1 R on 2 H and 2 BB, striking out 7, over 7.0 IP though he settled for a no decision. His lone mistake came to Jacob deGrom as well, who hit a home run, arguably making it even more frustrating. Foltynewicz had allowed 7 ER over 11.1 IP in his previous two starts since returning from the minors and still owns a 5.68 ERA and 1.40 WHIP on the season. His big problem has been home runs this season (he entered the day with a 2.27 HR/9) and considering his 39.7% groundball rate at Triple-A and 34.1% entering the day (before 8 groundballs vs. 6 fly balls yesterday) there’s every reason to believe that those struggles will continue. While he could be a matchup play the risk may outweigh the potential reward.

5) Jon Berti shows why he’s a strong waiver wire target…
In what became a crazy game, with the two teams combining for 30 runs and 30 hits, there were numerous noteworthy performances. That said Berti filled the box score, going 3-6 with 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 R and 1 SB, giving him 5 HR and 6 SB over 137 AB in the Majors. While he’s never been a big home run hitter before, he does have 9 HR along with 9 doubles and 1 triple over 199 AB this season. He’s always shown speed, and with an impressive approach thus far (8.8% SwStr%, 24.6% O-Swing%), a willingness to use the entire field (28.7% Oppo%) and an ability to hit the ball hard (40.6% Hard%) there’s every reason to believe that he’s going to continue to be a productive option.

6) What to make of the hot/cold production of Kole Calhoun…
We got a “hot” day yesterday, falling a triple short of the cycle as he went 4-4 with 1 HR, 1 RBI and 2 R. In 448 AB he now has 28 HR, 64 RBI and 77 R, but he’s hitting just .239 on the season as the left-handed hitter has struggled to make regular contact (13.1% SwStr%) and has been even worse against southpaws (.204 AVG/.310 OBP). A pull heavy approach does cast some doubt over his BABIP, though a 41.7% Hard% and a 37.6% fly ball rate (meaning he’s not swinging for the fences) would seem to justify better than his .259 BABIP entering the day. Maybe he can’t maintain the 22.5% HR/FB, but the potential is there for him to make an impact down the stretch.

7) Did Dylan Cease show us signs of turning things around…
He made one big mistake (a three-run home run to Willie Calhoun), but that was all as he allowed 3 ER on 4 H and 1 BB, striking out 9, over 6.0 IP. Obviously the home run is a bit of a concern, as he’s now allowed at least 1 HR in all nine starts he’s made (11 HR over 50.0 IP) and he’s also shown spotty control (4.30 BB/9 entering the day, 4.21 at Triple-A). He’s been better in the latter lately (2 BB over 11.0 IP in his past two starts) and he’s struck out a better per inning in the Majors, but it’s hard to fully trust him given the home run issues (and the likelihood that the control isn’t for real). That’s not to say that he shouldn’t be used and doesn’t have the upside (especially having entered the day with a .304 BABIP and 66.7% strand rate), but for now he’s more of a plug and play stash as opposed to a must use option.

8) Another dominant outing from Jack Flaherty…
Taking on the Rockies he tossed 6.0 shutout innings allowing 3 H and 1 BB, striking out 9. He’s now allowed 2 ER or fewer in nine straight appearances (and he was at 1 ER or fewer in eight of those). Obviously it’s been an impressive run, though there are a few red flags that he could face some stumbles down the stretch. Let’s not overlook the .260 BABIP and 81.3% strand rate that he entered the day with and there’s also the potential that home runs create a significant issue (37.6% groundball rate entering the day, 4 groundballs vs. 5 fly balls in the game). Throw in a 40.3% Hard% overall, and 41.1% Hard% in the second half entering the game, and it all points to a blowup or two. He’s impossible to sit, at least for now, but be prepared and keep your eyes open.

9) Has Chris Paddack officially hit the wall…
We all knew that there was a shutdown coming, but could he have already pitched his way out of usability? He took one on the chin against the Red Sox, allowing 6 ER on 7 H and 1 BB, striking out 0, over 2.1 IP and he’s now allowed at least 3 ER in each of his past four starts (4+ ER in three of the four). He’s watched his ERA balloon from 2.78 to 3.84 over this stretch with home runs being the biggest red flag (6 HR over the four starts). That isn’t necessarily news, as he did enter the day with a 41.4% groundball rate and 1.57 HR/9, though most of those issues have come on the road (2.04 HR/9 and 4.23 ERA, compared to a 1.01 and 2.53, respectively, entering the day). He’s now thrown 117.1 IP on the season, after 90.0 last season (and missing all of 2017), so he may only have 1-2 starts left as it is. Consider him impossible to trust.

10) Justus Sheffield fails to impress in his first Mariners start…
Taking on the Blue Jays Sheffield needed 86 pitches to get through 4.0 innings, allowing 3 ER on 7 H and 3 BB, striking out 3, in what ultimately became a no decision. Let’s not forget that Sheffield was miserable at Triple-A earlier this season (6.87 ERA over 55.0 IP) before being demoted to Double-A and seemingly figuring things out (2.19 ERA over 78.0 IP). Home runs were a significant issue at the highest level (1.96 HR/9) as was his control (6.71 BB/9) and while he did keep the ball in ballpark last night he was hardly a groundball machine (5 groundballs vs. 4 fly balls). There’s potential upside, especially long-term, but if you are playing for ’19 he’s nearly impossible to trust.

Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs

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