10 Important Stories from 09/11/19 Box Scores: Identifying Pitchers To Avoid, Should We Buy These Surging Hitters & More

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The impressive run from Steven Matz continued, tossing 6.0 shutout innings allowing 4 H and 3 BB, striking out 7 (he’s now allowed 2 ER or fewer in seven straight starts). Getting his first official AB since September 2 (he drew a walk on September 10), Mike Moustakas exploded to go 3-4 with 2 HR, 5 RBI and 2 R. Chris Paddack dominated the Cubs, tossing 6.0 shutout innings allowing 3 H and 1 BB, striking out 7. What else happened on the field that we need to know about? Let’s take a look:

1)Is it time to buy into John Means for the rest of the season…
Taking on the Dodgers he settled for a no decision, but that doesn’t take away from the performance. Going 6.1 IP he allowed 2 ER on 4 H and 1 BB, striking out 6, and he’s now allowed 2 ER or less in five straight starts (lowering his ERA back down to 3.47 to go along with a 1.11 WHIP). Of course he has allowed 1 HR in each of his past four starts, and with 20 HR over 137.1 IP and a 31.7% groundball rate entering the day (4 groundballs vs. 9 fly balls) it’s a problem that isn’t going to disappear. He also hasn’t been missing many bats (9.8% SwStr%, with a 7.08 K/9 entering the day) and how many W will he really get pitching for Baltimore? He’s been a nice story, but he’s not someone we’d want to trust down the stretch.

2) Trent Thornton tames the Red Sox as a “bulk” pitcher…
Following Wilmer Font, Thornton tossed 5.0 hitless innings allowing 1 BB while striking out 7. It was a highly impressive performance for a pitcher who has looked better lately, but still owns a 5.04 ERA and 1.46 WHIP over 139.1 IP this season. The biggest issue has been home runs, entering the day with a 1.54 HR/9 courtesy of a 30.9% groundball rate. He was at least a little bit better in that regard yesterday (4 groundballs vs. 4 fly balls), an appearance after getting 6 groundballs vs. 4 fly balls. Even if he was just to get into the 40-45% range he’d at least have intrigue, though he also has to improve upon a 9.6% SwStr%. In other words he’s much like Means, as an AL East pitcher with HR concerns who is far too risky to trust.

3) Robbie Ray completely unravels in New York…
You could argue that he deserved better after a catchable ball fell in, but that’s not an excuse. Ray managed to get just 2 outs, allowing 5 ER on 5 H and 0 BB, striking out 2. He allowed a pair of home runs, including one of two blows from Todd Frazier on the night (2-4, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 2 R). Over his past three starts Ray has allowed 12 ER over 10.0 IP, watching his ERA jump to 4.30. The question has always been about his control, though he’s also struggled to keep the ball in the ballpark (27 HR over 157.0 IP). Strikeouts are nice, but they simply aren’t enough. At this point it’s easy to call him more name than anything, at least for the rest of this season.

4) What’s happened to Martin Perez…
Remember when everyone was buying into Perez earlier this season? Even more recently there was hope that he could’ve turned things back around. However after being outpitched by Stephen Strasburg (6.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 H, 2 BB, 7 K) and taking an L at the hands of Washington is anyone still buying? Perez allowed 5 ER on 6 H and 3 BB, striking out 4, over 5.0 IP and he’s now allowed 5+ ER in two of his past three starts. You can argue that there’s been a little bit of bad luck (68.6% strand rate) while you wouldn’t expect home runs to be as big of an issue (49.6% groundball rate, 33.3% Hard% entering the day), he’s now allowed a HR in three straight. Couple that with pedestrian control and a strikeout rate that’s regressed (6.15 K/9 entering the day in the second half) and what’s to like? Maybe he strings some strong starts together, but there’s not enough here to buy into.

5) Has Rougned Odor finally rediscovered his swing…
Maybe it was the promotion of Nick Solak (2-3, 2 R) that helped to spark him but Odor is finally showing signs of life. He went 1-4 with 1 HR, 3 RBI and 1 R yesterday giving him 3 HR over his past four games (4 HR in his past seven games). On September 2 he was hitting .193, and while his current .203 mark isn’t going to impress you at least he’s showing some signs. Over 467 AB this season he has 25 HR and 10 SB, though his approach is questionable (12.9% SwStr%, 33.5% O-Swing%) and his propensity to pull the ball (18.5% Oppo%) and put the ball in the air (46.3% fly ball rate) is going to keep his BABIP suppressed. There’s going to be some power, but on the surface it would appear he’s become too fixated on the long ball. That’s ultimately going to cost him, and while he could correct the issue in the offseason it makes him impossible to trust right now.

6) Just another day at the office for Jorge Soler and his breakout…
The Royals battered Rodrigo Lopez for 4 HR, with Soler doing the bulk of the damage. Finishing going 4-5 with 2 HR, 4 RBI and 2 R, he’s now hitting .255 with 43 HR and 106 RBI on the year. There has always been upside, but did anyone truly see this one coming? He entered the day benefiting from a 27.5% HR/FB, though a 40.5% fly ball rate isn’t a crippling mark and his ability to hit the ball hard (45.9% Hard%) and staying within the strike zone (27.0% O-Swing%) brings hope that he can actually maintain it. While we’d like to see a few less swings and misses (13.1% SwStr%), it’s simply not enough. Maybe he’s not quite this good in terms of his power, but he’s proven that he should continue to be a strong option moving forward.

7) Could Jose Urquidy claim a spot in Houston’s rotation moving forward…
While he settled for a no decision it was an impressive outing for Urquidy, who allowed 1 ER on 1 H and 1 BB, striking out 10, over 5.0 IP against the A’s. He was pulled after 82 pitches generating a highly impressive 15 swinging strikes in the process. He brings both strikeouts and control, which is going to keep him on radars, the question is going to be whether or not he can continuously keep the ball in the ballpark, as he wasn’t much of a groundball pitcher at either Double-A (41.9%) or Triple-A (32.4%) this season. If he can figure that out he could quickly emerge, and given Houston’s track record would you be surprised if he figures it out?

8) Despite control issues, it was another solid outing for Dakota Hudson…
Pitching in Coors Field is always scary, but Hudson did the job allowing 2 ER on 4 H and 5 BB, striking out 7, over 6.0 IP. Sure he took the L, but he’s now allowed 2 ER or less in six of his past seven starts. Of course overall this season he has 123 K vs. 75 BB over 159.2 IP, so you can argue his ability in either category. Sure he’s a potentially elite groundball artist (57.1% entering the day), and that’s going to help to eliminate some risk, is it enough to offset the concerns in the other two categories? He’s certainly usable while he’s pitching well, but that doesn’t mean he’ll be a set ’em and forget ’em option any time soon.

9) Manuel Margot fills the box score…
There’s often been hype, but Margot has generally disappointed. He showed off his skillset yesterday, hitting atop the order and going 3-4 with 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 R and 1 SB. He’s hitting just .246 this season, though with 12 HR and 20 SB it’s fair to continuously look at that same potential we’ve often heard about. His approach has been impressive (8.5% SwStr%, 24.6% O-Swing% entering the day), though with a player with his skills he needs to prove that he can do some other things like hit the ball consistently hard (31.8% Hard%), use the entire field (20.8% Oppo%) and potentially putting the ball on the ground a little bit more often (41.3% fly ball rate). That’s a lot of caveats and he’s been around for a long time, but there’s still the potential that he puts it together at any moment.

10) Kyle Lewis homers for the second straight day…
When he was first recalled we wondered if he was going to play regularly, but the injury to Jake Fraley may have opened the door and it looks like Lewis is trying to take full advantage. He went 1-3 with 1 HR, 3 RBI and 1 R yesterday, putting him at 2-6 with 2 HR and 4 RBI in his two games in the Majors. The strong start doesn’t eliminate the concerns we’ve had for him, like his swing and miss tendencies (29.4% strikeout rate at Double-A). Sure there was some power upside (25 doubles, 1 triple and 11 HR over 517 PA at Double-A), but does anyone really expect him to be a “slugger”? It’s been a nice start and at least it puts him on radars, but it’s not enough to fully buy in (though anyone can get hot for a few weeks).

Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs

3 COMMENTS

  1. Prof.,
    Looking to upgrade a utility slot. How would you rank for H2H points?

    Solak, H. Alberto, Ahmed, Garrett Cooper, Starlin C.

    Thanks in advance,
    T

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