It was another strong start for Lucas Giolito, who allowed 3 ER on 5 H and 0 BB, striking out 9, over 6.0 IP to earn the W. Mike Trout has a monster double header, going 4-5 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 6 R. Madison Bumgarner returned from the IL to take another loss, allowing 2 ER on 3 H and 2 BB, striking out 2, over 4.0 IP against the Giants. What else happened on the field that we need to know about? Let’s take a look:
1) Is 2020 a lost season for Chris Paddack…
Whether you want to call it a sophomore slump or something else, it’s fairly obvious that Paddack is in the midst of a disappointing campaign. Taking on the A’s he allowed 4 ER on 7 H and 1 BB, striking out 6, over 4.2 IP to see his ERA rise to 4.75 over 47.1 IP. Before we push the panic button completely, keep in mind that he entered the day showing all of the skills we look for:
- Strikeouts – 8.86 K/9
- Control – 1.69 BB/9
- Groundballs – 44.3%
Despite that home runs have been an issue, entering with a 2.11 HR/9. He generated 5 groundballs vs. 2 flyballs yesterday and should see fewer balls leave the ballpark. In other words, don’t push the panic button.
2) Is Tarik Skubal a viable fantasy option…
He had an impressive outing against the Twins, allowing 1 ER on 2 H and 2 BB, striking out 6, over 6.0 IP though he had to settle for a no decision thanks to his bullpen. He’s now posted back-to-back strong outings, allowing 3 ER on 5 H over 11.0 IP, though does that mean that he’s a player we want to trust? He entered the day suffering from a 61.3% Hard%, helping lead to a .357 BABIP, and he’s struggled generating many groundballs leading to home run issues. The latter isn’t a surprise and it’s going to hold back his value, making him more of a streaming option as opposed to someone worth trusting.
3) Seth Lugo continues to emerge as a potential ace…
Lugo outpitched Spencer Howard (4.0 IP, 3 ER, 4 H, 1 BB, 3 K), allowing 1 ER on 4 H and 2 BB, striking out 8, over 5.0 IP to improve to 2-2 with a 2.05 ERA Lugo was generating swings and misses (12) and groundballs (5 groundballs vs. 2 flyballs), as he was pushed to 81 pitches and appears to be fully stretched out. Obviously it’s tough to get a read on him as a starter still, but he’s up to 20 K vs. 4 BB over 11.2 IP as a starter while he entered the day with an overall 50.0% groundball rate. There’s still some risk involved, but there always has been talk that he could thrive in a starting role. Finally given the opportunity, Lugo appears to be putting it all together.
4) Should we be taking Keegan Akin seriously…
After allowing 2 R (0 earned) to the Blue Jays on August 31, Akin followed it up with 5.1 shutout innings against the Yankees. He allowed 3 H and 4 BB, striking out 8, so while it’s been a strong pair of starts it’s hardly enough. Just consider these two keys numbers from Triple-A (112.1 IP) in 2019:
- Walks – 4.89 BB/9
- Groundballs – 32.7%
Sure there’s some strikeout stuff, and he generated 16 swinging strikes last night, but with control issues and the risk of home runs there’s far too much downside to roll the dice.
5) Is Ian Happ’s performance for real…
While he went hitless in the second game, he went 2-4 with 2 HR, 2 RBI and 2 R in the first. Overall he’s now hitting .310 with 12 HR and 24 RBI over 129 AB. Obviously he’s benefiting from a 38.7% HR/FB, and with just 9 doubles and 1 triple there’s every reason to believe that the power is going to regress. In a short season it’s possible he can maintain it, though there’s every reason to believer he could fall off a cliff. Throw in a .354 BABIP, which could regress, and there’s a lot of risk. Utilize him while you can, but have a backup plan in case the bottom falls out before the year is out.
6) Is it time to write off Griffin Canning for 2020…
There were lots of notable performances from the Angels/Astros double header, including George Springer with a pair of home runs, Jo Adell’s big Game 1 (2-4 with 1 HR, 3 RBI and 1 R) and the struggles of Brandon Bielak (4 ER over 3.2 IP). However it’s Canning who was most notable, as he struggled allowing 4 ER on 4 H and 2 BB, striking out 4, over 4.0 IP. He’s now gone 4.2 IP or less in 6 of his 8 starts this season, including allowing 6 ER in his last 4 starts (at least 1 HR in each). Overall his strikeouts are down as his SwStr% has taken a significant step backwards (13.8% to 9.8%) as has his O-Swing% (31.9% to 26.2%). His velocity is down (94.29 mph to 92.97) and he’s been hit hard (45.8% Hard%). The lack of groundballs has always been there and at this point the risk likely outweighs the reward. He could figure it out long-term, but for 2020 feel free to move on.
7) Can Luis Garcia prove to be a viable fantasy option…
Garcia went 2-5 with 3 RBI yesterday, giving him back-to-back multi-hit games. In 73 AB he’s hitting .301 with 1 HR, 8 RBI and 9 R, so while the 20-year old has hit for a solid average it appears to be a bit empty. At Double-A last season he hit .257 with 4 HR and 11 SB, and when you start to dig into the underlying metrics his AVG starts to become questionable as well:
- Hard% – 29.8%
- Groundball% – 60.7%
- BABIP – .375
- SwStr% – 12.6%
So he swings and misses a lot for a player with little power, and he doesn’t hit the ball particularly hard. His BABIP is going to ultimately plummet, and when that happens the value completely disappears.
8) Can Oscar Mercado take advantage of his new opportunity…
Mercado got his first start since August 15, going 1-2 with 2 R and 1 SB, while also drawing 2 BB. After picking up a hit in his lone AB on Friday, there appears to be hope yet for a player who has been a bitter disappointment in 2020. There clearly was an issue in his approach, including becoming too pull heavy (14.7% Oppo%) and an inability to hit the ball hard (26.5% Hard%). He’s surprisingly struggled against fastballs (.222 AVG, .278 SLG), and that’s something we’d expect to improve with time. It’s possible that he earns regular playing-time from here on out, and with his speed that makes him an intriguing name to monitor. He could prove to be a difference maker, as many thought he would be entering he season, and it’s better late than never.
9) Another impressive start for Tony Gonsolin…
Taking on the Rockies Gonsolin made one mistake, a home run to Charlie Blackmon (2-4, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 R), as he impressed allowing 2 R (1 earned) on 3 H and 0 BB, striking out 8, over 6.0 IP. He had the Rockies off balance all night long, with 17 swinging strikes, as he now has a 9.51 K/9 courtesy of a 13.9% SwStr% over 23.2 IP. He’s shown elite control (1.90 BB/9), something that he may not be able to maintain, and that’s just the start of why we can’t expect him to maintain his 0.76 ERA and 0.72 WHIP:
- Strand Rate – 90.4%
- BABIP – .204
Home runs should also be an issue, with a 30.9% groundball rate and 0.38 HR/9,and when the luck regresses the results will be ugly. Maybe he keeps the luck rolling for the rest of the year, but there’s a good chance that he implodes sooner rather than later.
10) An impressive outing for Justus Sheffield, despite no decision…
Taking on the Rangers Sheffield allowed 2 ER on 8 H and 1 BB, striking out 6, over 7.0 IP. He made one mistake, a home run to Anderson Tejada, in what was a strong bounce back start. He’s now gone at least 6.0 IP and allowed 2 ER or fewer in four of his past five starts, so despite his 4.34 ERA over 37.1 IP he appears to have turned a corner and has actually shown all of the skills we look for from a pitcher:
- Strikeouts – 8.44 K/9
- Control – 3.13 BB/9
- Groundballs – 48.2%
Things should improve, as his 65.7% strand rate improves, though he has also been hit hard (45.9% Hard%) and that adds risk. That said he’s at least a potential streaming option, with the potential to be so much more than that.
Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball