Gerrit Cole dominated the Orioles in the first game of a double header, tossing 7.0 shutout innings allowing 2 H and 1 BB, striking out 9. Jacob deGrom could be en route to another Cy Young Award, after he improved to 4-1 with a 1.67 ERA as he allowed 1 ER on 3 H and 2 BB, striking out 9, over 6.0 IP. Kenta Maeda (7.0 IP, 0 R, 4 H, 2 BB, 7 K) out-pitched Shane Bieber (7.0 IP, 3 R, 5 H, 2 BB, 8 K). What else happened on the field that we need to know about? Let’s take a look:
1) Is it time to believe in the breakout of Luke Voit…
While Voit was relatively quiet in Game 1 (1-3, 1 R), he erupted in Game 2 as he went 3-4 with 2 HR, 6 RBI and 3 R. He’s now hitting .285 with 16 HR and 36 RBI this season, and there’s reason to believe that his AVG could get even better (.278 BABIP, 50.0% Hard%, 37.5% flyball rate). Granted there are questions about his approach:
- SwStr% – 14.2%
- O-Swing% – 32.8%
Is that enough, though? Whether or not he can maintain quite this type of power remains to be seen, considering his 35.9% HR/FB, but any improvement in his already solid AVG would offset it. In other words there’s every reason to believe.
2) Could Wilson Ramos become a viable option for the final two weeks…
The Mets piled up 18 runs on 19 hits, so there were plenty of offensive heroes including Michael Conforto (2-4, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 4 R) and Dominic Smith (2-5, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 1 R). However the most noteworthy performance came from Ramos, who went 3-5 with 1 HR, 4 RBI and 4 R. Ramos has been a bitter disappointment this season, hitting .237 with 4 HR and 13 RBI. The question now is whether or not he can turn this game into further production. Unfortunately his approach has left a lot to be desired (13.0% SwStr%, 37.5% O-Swing%) and he hasn’t hit the ball relatively hard (37.4% Hard%). Maybe he can turn things around and get hot, but we wouldn’t bet on it outside of two-catcher formats.
3) Could Nate Lowe carve out a role over the final two weeks…
Lowe got an opportunity as DH yesterday, hitting seventh, and he delivered a monster game going 3-4 with 2 HR, 4 RBI and 3 R. It’s easy to forget that he had shown off his potential last season, both at Triple-A (.289 with 16 HR over 406 PA) and in the Majors (.263 with 7 HR over 169 PA). He’s consistently shown the potential to make consistent contact (7.5% SwStr% at Triple-A last season) and he’s starting to tap into his power potential (he added 32 doubles between both levels last season). The Rays are known to play matchups, so it’s hard to believe that he’s going to get regular playing time but he’s also well worth watching. If he gets to play, he could really make an impact.
4) Upside or not, is it time to give up on Trevor Rogers…
While Aaron Nola was tossing a gem opposite him (7.0 IP, 0 R, 3 H, 0 BB, 10 K), Rogers was getting beaten up. Lasting just 3.0 IP he allowed 9 R (8 ER) on 9 H and 0 BB, striking out 5, as he allowed a pair of home runs. He’s now allowed 5 HR over his past two starts (9.0 IP) as he’s watched his ERA balloon to 6.50. The southpaw has shown the type of elite control that we’d have expected, after a slow start, 3 BB over his past 14.0 IP, and he’s missing bats (12.4% SwStr%). The problem is that he always had the risk of home runs, so this shouldn’t come as a surprise. With that hanging over him he’s a matchup play, at best, over the final two weeks and probably too big of a risk to trust.
5) Are we buying this hot streak from Adalberto Mondesi…
Mondesi went 1-2 with 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 R and 2 SB yesterday, giving him back-to-back days with a home run and extended his hitting streak to seven games (9-28, 2 HR, 8 RBI, 4 R and 5 SB). His best skill is obviously his speed, and he has gone 15-for-21 in SB this season, but he continues to show an abysmal approach at the plate:
- SwStr% – 20.8%
- O-Swing% – 39.5%
It’s amazing that he’s been able to tap into his speed, considering his .207 AVG and consistent strikeout issues. If he can ever get that under control the upside is there, but otherwise he’s a risky proposition and a must use while he’s making the most of his chances.
6) Sam Huff makes his MLB debut…
There were obviously others who had bigger days in this one, like Rougned Odor (1-3, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 R) and Matt Olson (2-5, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 1 R), but Huff’s debut is certainly notable. A “C+” prospect prior to the season, there’s no questioning the power potential he brings. it’s his ability to make contact that’s a problem. As we noted prior to the season:
Despite playing the year at 21-years old he posted eye-popping strikeout totals:
- Single-A – 32.5%
- High-A – 28.9%
An 18.7% SwStr% shows just how big of an issue it could be, especially as he continues to move against more advanced pitching. Considering he also doesn’t draw many walks (6.4%), it’s a home run or a strikeout. As a catcher maybe that’s enough, but it’s not a guarantee.
He had 2 K vs. 1 BB yesterday, and we should expect to see much of the same the rest of the way.
7) Brandon Woodruff tosses an absolute gem as he emerges…
Jon Lester matched him nearly pitch-for-pitch (6.0 IP, 0 R, 3 H, 2 BB, 8 K), but it was Woodruff who was the star. Going 7.0 shutout innings, Woodruff allowed 1 H and 0 BB, striking out 12. He now has 7+ K in each of his past four starts and overall has a 3.40 ERA, 1.08 WHIP and 67 K over 53.0 IP as he’s shown enough of all three skills that we look for:
- Strikeouts – 11.38 K/9
- Control – 2.55 BB/9
- Groundballs – 46.2%
There has been some slight luck, with a 78.0% strand rate, but he hasn’t been hit hard (32.1% Hard%) and he’s been missing ample bats (13.0% SwStr%). He’s truly emerged.
8) Could Ryan Jeffers emerge as a viable fantasy option…
Jeffers went 1-3 with 1 HR, 1 RBI and 1 R, and over his past three games he’s gone 4-7 with 2 HR, 3 RBI and 2 R. He’s now hitting .289 in 38 AB, and while his 11.4% SwStr% shows a little bit more strikeout stuff than we’d expect, his 25.0% O-Swing% and 45.8% Hard% shows that the upside is there. His 32.6% strikeout rate should improve, and while his .409 BABIP isn’t realistic it will help to offset any regression. As we noted when we dubbed him the 14th best catching prospect:
Splitting time between High-A and Double-A he hit .264 with 14 HR over 414 PA, and adding 16 doubles and showing a strong approach (8.8% SwStr%) is promising. He has proven to be adept at the position defensively and does have the ability to mature into a solid option, especially if the power continues to develop.
9) Should we be buying the Angels’ Jared Walsh…
Walsh went 2-4 with 1 HR, 1 RBI and 2 R yesterday, giving him home runs in three straight games and a four game hitting streak (7-15, 3 HR, 7 RBI and 5 R). The left-handed hitter has looked the part of a platoon thus far in the Majors this season:
- vs. LHP – .167/.154/.167
- vs. RHP – .296/.310/.889
All four of his home runs have come against right-handed pitchers, though at Triple-A last season he hit .367 with 9 HR over 120 AB against southpaws. That would make you think there’s even more upside, and as long as he’s making better contact (11.6% SwStr% in the Majors this season) the upside is there. The AB could be there with Albert Pujols struggling, while the team should also want to see what he is for the future. Keep him in mind as a potential sleeper over the final two weeks.
10) Luis Castillo proving to be the high upside ace…
Castillo tossed a complete game gem against the Cardinals, allowing 1 ER on 2 H and 3 BB, striking out 6, to improve to 2-5 with a 3.44 ERA and 1.32 WHIP. While he hasn’t gotten wins, the numbers behind the performance are all extremely promising:
- Strikeouts – 11.35 K/9 (courtesy of a 15.2% SwStr%)
- Control – 3.44 BB/9
- Groundballs – 59.1%
He has ace potential and there’s every reason to believe that he’s going to be able to maintain it.
Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs, MILB.com