10 Important Stories from 08/24/19 Box Scores: Which Young Starters Are We Buying For 2019 (Gallen, Gonsolin & More), Who Can’t Be Trusted & More

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Alex Bregman went 2-3 with 1 HR, 3 RBI and 1 R, giving him a career high 32 HR on the year. Pete Alonso tied the Mets’ single season home run record, hitting his 41st home run, as he went 1-4 with 1 HR, 3 RBI and 1 R in a losing effort. Bo Bichette enjoyed a strong day atop the Toronto lineup going 3-5 with 1 HR, 3 RBI and 2 R. What else happened on the field that we need to know about? Let’s take a look:

1)Does the Dodgers’ Tony Gonsolin warrant our attention…
Obviously pitching for the Dodgers there’s no guarantee that he sticks in the rotation, though you’d think he earned himself another turn after stifling the Yankees. Going 5.0 innings he allowed 1 ER on 2 H and 2 BB, striking out 2, with his lone mistake being a home run to Aaron Judge (1-4, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R). Before we get overly excited we can’t overlook Gonsolin’s struggles at Triple-A with both his control (4.57 BB/9) and ability to generate groundballs (35.7%). He wasn’t any better with the latter yesterday (4 groundballs vs. 8 fly balls) and that could easily lead to some significant home run troubles. If the control also wavers? It could definitely get ugly so proceed with caution.

2) Is there any reason to believe in Alex Wood moving forward…
He allowed 5 R (4 earned) on 2 H and 3 BB, striking out 1, over 5.1 IP against the Pirates in what ultimately turned into a blowout (the Reds lost 14-0). Wood has now allowed 4+ ER in three of his past four starts (he’s allowed 3+ ER in his past four and owns a 6.07 ERA and 1.42 WHIP over his six starts since returning). At least he didn’t allow a home run in this one, generating 9 groundballs vs. 6 fly balls, and if he can get that back on track (he entered with a 38.8% groundball rate) it would go a long way in making him a usable option. Of course he also needs to show strikeout stuff (he generated just 5 swinging strikes yesterday) and he needs to reduce the hard contact (he entered with a 46.3% Hard%). There could be value as a streaming option, and there’s more upside than that, but for now he shouldn’t be trusted.

3) Has Hanser Alberto emerged as a strong option…
Hitting atop the Baltimore lineup he went 2-3 with 1 HR, 1 RBI and 3 R, putting him at .313 with 10 HR, 44 RBI, 46 R and 4 SB over 409 AB. He’s hit 3 HR over the past five games, which has helped to inflate the numbers. He’s never been much of a power hitter, so it’s easy to label this surge more of an aberration, and he also doesn’t offer much speed. His biggest asset is his ability to make consistent contact (he entered with an 8.2% SwStr%), but a 48.5% O-Swing% has helped to relatively weak contact (25.8% Hard%) and could in turn should lead to a regression in his .324 BABIP. In other words he’s not a player worth buying.

4) Home runs cost Zac Gallen, is it a new trend…
Pitching in Milwaukee he allowed 2 ER on 6 H and 2 BB, striking out 8, over 5.0 IP with both runs coming courtesy of solo home runs (Eric Thames and Trent Grisham hit the long balls). As for Gallen he now owns a 2.56 ERA over 56.1 IP and hasn’t allowed more than 3 ER in any start this season. He has allowed just 5 HR overall, though entering the day with a 35.1% groundball rate and 40.9% Hard% it’s easy to envision that continuing to rise. His 83.6% strand rate should also take a step backwards, while he’s also had spotty control in the Majors (4.91 BB/9 entering the day). Strikeouts are nice, but everything else points towards a regression . Be cautious moving forward.

5) Max Fried continues to show signs, but for how much longer…
He had been pitching well, before the wheels fell off in the fifth and he ultimately settled for a no decision finishing allowing 5 ER on 7 H and 0 BB, striking out 5, over 5.0 IP. For owners it was a bit frustrating, as the Alonso home run was the big blow, but Fried entered the day with a 52.4% groundball rate (before 7 groundballs vs. 3 fly balls yesterday), and he’s also consistently shown strikeouts (9.18 K/9) and control (2.81 BB/9) throughout the season. He’s been solid all season, though you have to start to wonder if he could be shutdown at some point soon. Let’s not forget that he threw just 111.1 IP last season and has never thrown more than 118.2 IP in season. Currently at 136.1 IP you could argue that he could have just 10-15 innings left, at 25-years old, and perhaps he’s moved to the bullpen? Time will tell, but keep your eyes and ears open.

6) Max Kepler continued his emergence as one of the better OF options…
Hitting atop the Twins’ lineup he went 3-5 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 2 R yesterday, putting him at .256 with 35 HR, 86 RBI and 89 R over 477 AB this season. A pull/flyball approach (17.5%/46.0%, respectively) have helped to suppress his BABIP (.239 entering the day), despite a strong approach and an ability to hit the ball hard (42.9% Hard%), and that is going to help keep his average down. That said his OBP continues to be strong and he’s producing believable power (19.0% HR/FB entering the day) and plenty of runs/RBI. Emerging as an everyday player (he entered hitting .290 with 8 HR over 131 AB against left-handed pitchers), it’s easy to argue Kepler as a Top 20 outfielder for the remainder of ’19 and heading into ’20.

7) A dominating performance for Kolby Allard…
Taking on the White Sox he tossed 6.1 shutout innings allowing 6 H and 0 BB, striking out 8. Before we get overly excited about the outing, let’s not ignore that he generated just 9 swinging strikes while also failing to get many groundballs (3 groundballs vs. 9 fly balls). That would indicate that there was some great luck in his performance, and there always was the risk that he’d struggle with strikeouts at the highest level. He was a bit more of a groundball pitcher at Triple-A this season (50.0% while with Atlanta), but as we’ve said before he generally needs to be perfect with his control if he’s going to excel. He was on his game yesterday, but it’s hard to bank on that every start moving forward.

8) Dakota Hudson extends his scoreless streak to 18.2 IP…
This spans his past three starts, as he allowed 2 H and 3 BB, striking out 2, over 6.0 IP against the Rockies yesterday. It’s been an impressive run and he does have a 3.48 ERA over 140.0 IP on the season. Of course he’s walked 9 batters over this streak (4.23 BB/9 entering the day) and he’s continued to struggle generating many strikeouts (13 K over this three start stretch, 6.99 K/9 entering the day). He’s gotten the job done with an elite groundball rate (57.6% entering the day, 11 groundballs vs. 3 fly balls yesterday), but without strikeouts or control can we really trust him to continue this type of production? Just consider he owns a 1.48 WHIP, as he also entered with a 40.3% Hard%, so ride the hot streak but don’t get overly excited.

9) You can’t ignore Kevin Pillar any longer…
You could argue that if you’ve still been ignoring him you’ve already made a costly mistake. After going 2-5 with 2 RBI, 1 R and 1 SB yesterday he’s hitting .260 with 19 HR and 11 SB over 484 AB, showing plenty of power potential (he’s added 32 doubles and 2 triples). He doesn’t have elite speed, but he can contribute enough there, and he’s seen his doubles total grow each year (going from 31 to 35 to 37 to 40 last season) showing that the emergence in his power shouldn’t be a complete surprise at 30-years old. We’d obviously like to see him stay inside the strike zone (47.7% O-Swing%) and draw a few more walks, but there’s more than enough here to make him a strong play for those in five-outfielder formats over the remainder of the season.

10) Felix Hernandez pitches fairly well in his return…
Taking on Toronto he allowed 2 ER on 3 H and 3 BB, striking out 4, over 5.2 IP. Both runs came courtesy of solo home runs and that’s been a consistent issue all season long (11 HR over 44.1 IP on the season), and that’s been an issue for a few years now. He’s obviously no longer the elite pitcher he once was as his velocity is down and he’s struggled to miss bats. It’s not impossible that he re-imagines himself and learns to be a productive pitcher as is, but that’s not a gamble that we’d want to take over the remainder of the season.

Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs

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