10 Important Stories From 09/14/20 Box Scores: Young Pitchers To Buy (Lopez) And Others To Sell (Cease) & More

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Trevor Bauer was dominant, but forced to settle for a no decision as he allowed 1 ER on 4 H and 2 BB, striking out 12, over 6.1 IP against the Pirates. Jake Lamb made his debut for the A’s, going 2-4 with 1HR, 1 RBI and 2 R. Clayton Kershaw was solid, but he lost to the Padres allowing 3 ER on 5 H and 0 BB, striking out 9, over 6.1 IP. What else happened on the field that we need to know about? Let’s take a look:

1) Pablo Lopez delivers a gem against the Phillies…

Lopez made one true mistake, a leadoff home run to Andrew McCutchen (1-4, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R), but was otherwise brilliant. Going 7.0 IP he allowed 1 ER on 3 H and 0 BB, striking out 6, as he was doing a good job at generating swings and misses (14). While he wasn’t generating many groundballs yesterday, he showed all three skills we look for from a pitcher over his first 8 starts:

  • Strikeouts – 9.00 K/9
  • Control – 2.92 BB/9
  • Groundballs – 57.0%

While he still has a 4.02 ERA, a lot of that was due to poor luck (.331 BABIP, 61.0% strand rate entering the day). Considering his 31.4% Hard% and 12.6% SwStr%, he seems to have the potential to really emerge as we head towards 2021.

2) Is it time to give up on Mitch Keller…

Keller came off the IL to start the second game of the Pirates/Reds double header, and despite the upside we keep waiting for he continues to disappoint. Lasting just 3.0 IP he allowed 3 ER on 2 H and 4 BB, striking out 4, as he was burned by 2 HR. Keller has now allowed 10 HR over 58.2 IP in the Majors the past two seasons, and control has been an issue when healthy this season (8 BB over 10.2 IP). Obviously we don’t want to draw conclusions over such a small sample size (and one that was interrupted by a lengthy IL stint), so far now stay patient. One of our favorite sleepers heading into 2020, don’t be surprised if he finds his way onto the list once again for 2021.

3) Touki Toussaint returns, but his struggles continue…

In his first appearance since August 23 Touissaint picked up right where he left off, meaning another ugly performance. Taking on the Orioles he got torched for 8 R (5 earned) on 7 H and 3 BB, striking out 2, over 2.2 IP as he watched his ERA balloon to 8.88. In 24.1 IP he’s allowed 7 HR while walking 16. We’ve constantly heard about his potential upside, but does anyone believe that there’s any hope right now? Maybe we’ll reevaluate him for 2021, but for this season he can’t be touched.

4) Baltimore’s young bats light up the scoreboard…

While Jose Iglesias also produced (4-4, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 3 R), it was the two bats that followed him in the lineup that are far more intriguing:

  • D.J. Stewart – 2-5, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 1 R
  • Ryan Mountcastle – 3-5, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 R

Both youngsters are trying to establish themselves, though we can’t ignore the swing and miss that they both bring. Stewart entered the day with a 16.6% SwStr% while Mountcastle was at 16.5%. Sooner or later those numbers will catch up with them, so ride them while they are hot but don’t get infatuated unless we see some growth.

5) Are we buying St. Louis’ surprising starter performances…

Taking on the Brewers in a double header, the Cardinals got a surprising pair of strong starts:

  • Kwang-Hyun Kim – 7.0 IP, 0 R, 3 H, 3 BB, 6 K
  • Daniel Ponce de Leon – 6.0 IP, 2 R, 4 H, 1 BB, 9 K

Ponce de Leon generated an impressive 17 swinging strikes, but in his 97.1 IP in the Majors entering the day he had struggled with his control (4.99 BB/9) and a lack of groundballs (39.0%). In other words it’s hard to get excited.

As for Kim, he now has a 0.63 ERA and 0.91 WHIP over 28.2 IP this season. He hasn’t allowed an earned run over his past four starts (24.0 IP), allowing 12 H and 6 BB in the process. Of course the southpaw entered the day with a 4.57 K/9 and 43.9% groundball rate and he wasn’t missing many bats yesterday (7 swinging strikes). He’s an intriguing streaming option, but he feels tough to trust.

6) Has Corbin Burnes started to realize his potential…

After Josh Lindblom impressed in the first game (5.0 IP, 0 R, 3 H, 0 BB, 6 K), Burnes had his strikeout stuff working in the second game. Going 4.2 IP he allowed 1 ER on 5 H and 3 BB, striking out 10. Obviously he allowed a few too many base runners, though his 17 swinging strikes were impressive. Entering the day his 12.71 K/9 was impressive, but the question was if he could be productive with modest control (3.77 BB/9) and groundball stuff (46.2%). Obviously he needs to get more efficient, which would allow him to work deeper into games, but there’s enough skills there to make him a solid option (or better). He’s well worth owning the rest of the way.

7) Can we no longer trust Jesus Luzardo…

Taking on the Mariners Luzardo allowed 4 ER on 7 H and 0 BB, striking out 7, over 4.2 IP. It’s the second time in his past three starts where he’s allowed 4 ER while failing to go 5.0 IP, leaving him with a 4.32 ERA and 1.28 WHIP over 50.0 IP this season. He was done in by 3 HR in what has to be described as a disappointing performance, though we can’t overlook that he entered the day with strong metrics:

  • Strikeouts – 8.93 K/9
  • Control – 2.78 BB/9
  • Groundballs – 46.0%

Home runs have not been an issue and it’s not like he’s been hit hard (29.1% Hard%). While he’s had some bumps, there’s little reason for concern.

8) Could Mike Minor be a difference maker for the A’s…

Pitching in the second game of the double header, Minor dominated the Mariners as he threw a 7.0 inning complete game shutout. He gave up just 2 H and 2 BB, striking out 8, as he was a swing and miss machine (19). Of course it’s his first win of the season and he owns a 5.40 ERA as he’s consistently struggled with home runs (2.04 HR/9, 39.2% groundball rate entering the day). While pitching in Oakland could help to offset that issue, it’s also not something that’s likely to disappear. Keep that in mind before thrusting him into your lineup, because he’s a matchup play at best right now.

9) Is it time to give up on Dylan Cease…

While Cease only allowed 1 ER against the Twins, he lasted just 4.2 IP as he allowed 5 H and 5 BB, striking out 4. He needed 99 pitches to get the 14 outs, as he’s shown these types of loss of control recently (he had 6 BB over 4.1 IP on August 29 against the Royals). While he owns a 3.20 ERA, he’s allowed far too many base runners (1.38 WHIP) as he’s consistently lacked control throughout his MLB career (4.16 BB/9 over 119.0 IP entering the day). Throw in a general lack of groundballs (37.6% entering the day) and the risk far outweighs the reward. It’s not to say that he should be written off, but it’s also hard to trust him.

10) Has Dinelson Lamet emerged as an elite starter…

In a tough matchup against the Dodgers Lamet was fantastic, allowing 1 ER on 3 H and 2 BB, striking out 11, over 7.0 IP to improve to 3-1 with a 2.12 ERA. He generated 18 swinging strikes on the game and has now struck out 11 in back-to-back starts. Over 59.1 IP he has 79 K vs. 11 BB, though he entered the day with a 31.9% groundball rate. That could mean significant home run troubles at some point, and he also entered the day benefiting from a .243 BABIP and 84.4% strand rate. What that means is that he should remain a strong option, but he also isn’t this good. Don’t be surprised if there is a bump at some point (though with only two more starts, it’s not guaranteed).

Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs

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