10 Important Stories From 09/07/20 Box Scores: Potential Sell High Options (Javier, Lamet), Who Should We Stick With (Plesac) & More

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After finally hitting his first home run of the season on Sunday, the Mets’ Jeff McNeil followed it up with another as he went 2-4 with 1 HR, 3 RBI and 1 R. Max Scherzer dominated the Rays, tossing 7.0 shutout innings allowing 6 H and 1 BB, striking out 8. Hyun-Jin Ryu struggled against the Yankees, allowing 5 ER on 6 H and 2 BB, striking out 5, over 5.0 IP as he struggled with home runs (3 HR allowed). What else happened on the field that we need to know about? Let’s take a look:

1) Is Miguel Rojas a must own option…

Playing shortstop Rojas went 4-5 with 2 RBI and 1 R, including 2 doubles, and is now hitting .375 with 2 HR, 14 RBI and 9 R over 56 AB. He’s added 5 doubles and 1 triple while displaying an impressive approach with 10 K vs. 8 BB. Of course his 9.8% SwStr% entering the day indicates a slightly higher strikeout rate is likely, and he entered the day with a .375 BABIP (which is highly likely to regress, even with a 40.5% Hard%). Without much power or speed, does that sound like an investment that you want to make? Utilize him while he’s hot, but be ready to move on quickly.

2) Is it time to give up on David Peterson or should we stay patient…

It was a miserable start for Peterson, who needed 70 pitches to get 6 outs as he allowed 5 ER on 3 H and 4 BB, striking out 3. Clearly he was having control issues (only 37 strikes), and over his past five starts he’s walked 14 over 20.0 IP. That’s simply not going to get it done, especially for a pitcher who hasn’t been missing many bats (he entered the day with a 6.37 K/9 courtesy of a 9.1% SwStr%. Considering his groundball rate also hasn’t been what it was in the minors (44.7% entering the day) and what exactly are we buying? Long-term there’s some upside, but there’s no guarantee he even sticks in the rotation the rest of the way. For 2020, the risk outweighs the potential reward.

3) Michael Pineda shows just how high his upside is, kind of…

Sure the outing came against the Tigers, but that doesn’t take away from the impressive performance as he allowed 2 ER on 3 H and 2 BB, striking out 8, over 7.0 IP. He was missing bats, with 14 swinging strikes, and we all know how good he can be. It’s easy to forget after suspension cost him the end of ’19 (and the beginning of ’20), but over 146.0 IP last season he posted an 8.63 K/9 and 1.73 BB/9. The key is going to be avoiding home runs, as he posted a 36.1% groundball rate last season (7 groundballs vs. 6 flyballs yesterday). That could make him a risky option, depending on the matchup.

We also don’t want to ignore the home run from Ryan Jeffers, who went 2-3 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 1 R. He’s now hitting .265 with 1 HR and 3 RBI over 34 AB. He has the potential to make an impact when he plays, though 13 K over 34 AB can’t be overlooked.

4) Another stellar start from Marco Gonzales, but are we buying in…

After Gonzales stymied the Angels his last time out (1 ER on 4 H and 1 BB, striking out 8, in a complete game victory) he was nearly as impressive against the Rangers. Going 7.0 IP he allowed 2 ER on 4 H and 0 BB, striking out 7, to improve to 5-2 with a 3.02 ERA and 0.87 WHIP over 50.2 IP. He’s racked up an impressive 46 K vs. 4 BB, and while he’s always shown good control (he entered the day with a 2.29 BB/9) can he really maintain this type of mark? He’s also never shown this type of strikeout stuff, and with an 8.4% SwStr% entering the day (14 swinging strikes yesterday) it’s hard to envision it continuing for very long. Throw in the risk of home runs, is anyone really buying Gonzales? Maybe he can maintain the strong performance for a few more starts, but long-term it’s hard to buy.

5) Are we ready to sell high on Zach Plesac after another strong start…

Plesac dominated the Royals, allowing 1 ER on 7 H and 0 BB, striking out 4, over 7.0 IP to improve to 3-1 with a 1.32 ERA. In two starts since returning he’s allowed 2 ER over 13.0 IP and is up to 34 K vs. 2 BB over 34.0 IP. We already have to question whether or not he can maintain this type of control, even though he has shown an elite BB/9 coming up through the minors, but the luck metrics entering the day scream of a potential regression:

  • Strand Rate – 100.0%
  • BABIP – .203

That’s not to say that he can’t continue to be a great option, given his control and 14.0% SwStr% (before 14 swinging strikes yesterday). There could be a bump or two, but stay the course.

6) Danny Jansen provides the biggest blow for Toronto…

The Blue Jays racked up 12 R on 12 H against the Yankees, and there were many noteworthy performances:

  • Vladimir Guerrero Jr – 2-4, 2 RBI, 1 R, 1 SB
  • Lourdes Gurriel Jr – 3-5, 1 RBI, 1 R, 1 SB

It was Jansen who had the biggest hit, going 1-3 with 1 HR, 4 RBI and 1 R, while also drawing 2 BB. We continue to wait for him to figure it out at the dish, as he’s hitting .195 with 4 HR and 13 RBI. He has shown a strong approach (9.3% SwStr%, 23.9% O-Swing%) and a willingness to use the entire field (27.0% Oppo%), and we all know the upside is there. Just stay patient, maybe this gets him rolling.

7) Is it time to start believing in Kevin Gausman…

Taking on the Diamondbacks Gausman allowed 1 ER on 2 H and 3 BB, striking out 9, over 6.0 IP to improve to 3-2 with a 4.05 ERA and 1.14 WHIP over 46.2 IP. He now has 62 K vs. 12 BB, though there are two key numbers that needs to be monitored:

  • Groundball Rate – 41.2%, which has helped to a 1.54 HR/9 (1.28 for his career)
  • Hard% – 47.1%

Gausman hasn’t been lucky at all (.295 BABIP, 71.8% strand rate), though that could regress as well. We’ll also need to monitor his ability to keep the ball in the ballpark, which obviously has always been a question. Depending on the matchup it’s time to start trusting him, but he’s hardly a must use option.

8) Chris Bassitt shines, but is he more than a streaming option…

Taking on the Astros Bassitt tossed 7.0 shutout innings allowing 7 H and 0 BB, striking out 4, to improve to 3-2 with a 3.12 ERA over 43.1 IP. This was a strong bounce back performance, after he struggled against the Astros in his previous outing (4 ER over 3.0 IP). Of course, before we get overly excited we have to keep in mind that he hasn’t offered elite strikeout stuff (7.06 K/9 courtesy of a 7.8% SwStr%) or groundball rate (41.5%). Throw in the potential for his home run rate (1.04 HR/9) and luck metrics (.265 BABIP, 78.7% strand rate) could both regress, he’s generally difficult to trust.

9) Is Cristian Javier an immediate sell high option…

Javier took a tough luck loss, as he allowed 2 ER on 3 H and 3 BB, striking out 3, over 5.0 IP. We can’t overlook that he allowed a home run, and has now allowed at least 1 HR in his past four starts (5 HR). Overall he owns a 1.90 HR/9 courtesy of a 30.0% groundball rate, so it’s a problem that isn’t about to disappear any time soon. He also has benefited from some extreme luck, with a .165 BABIP and 88.8% strand rate, and simply hasn’t fooled MLB hitters (7.3% SwStr%, 24.9% O-Swing%). There is the potential for more strikeouts to develop, but as is Javier is an implosion waiting to happen. If it’s not too late, sell high immediately.

10) It was an ace-like performance for Dinelson Lamet…

While he unfortunately had to settle for a no decision, Lamet was outstanding as he tossed 7.2 shutout innings allowing 6 H and 0 BB, striking out 11. Over 52.1 IP he owns an 11.69 K/9 and 2.58 BB/9, though he hasn’t generated many groundballs (32.8%) and he’s benefited from extreme luck (.243 BABIP, 84.4% strand rate). Those combine to form a sell-high option, as he appears to be an implosion waiting to happen. Let’s not forget that he posted ERA of 4.57 in ’17 and 4.07 in ’19, so it shouldn’t be surprising that he’s not quite as good as he looks right now. Strikeouts are nice, but you may want to sell high and cash in if you can for the remainder of ’20.

Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs

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