10 Important Stories from 09/17/19 Box Scores: Identifying Youngsters Ready To Thrive (Biggio, Keller), Key IL Returns (Severino) & More

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The final two weeks of the season are never easy to maneuver as playoff teams look to prepare for a deep October run while non-playoff teams look towards potential pieces for 2020. Who made the biggest impact yesterday? Who gave the impression as to who could thrive, both over the final few days and into next season? Let’s take a look:

1)Luis Severino impresses in his first start of 2019…
It’s a shame that he just now made his season debut, and while he was limited to 67 pitches against an Angels lineup that was without both Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout it was still an impressive outing. He tossed 4.0 shutout innings allowing 2 H and 2 BB, striking out 4, as he was missing bats (9 swinging strikes) and generating groundballs (5 groundballs vs. 2 fly balls). While playoff teams may be limiting their starters as they prepare for a run deep into October, for Severino it’s the opposite. The Yankees may want to get him two more full starts ahead of the playoffs, hoping to get their potential ace fully stretched out. While it’s impossible to know exactly what he may provide, this is a good first look and he’s an intriguing option for the final week.

2) Despite the loss, at least we got positive signs from Mitch Keller…
Even now that he’s receiving regular starts for the Pirates Keller continues to be a bitter disappointment. However yesterday was a positive, as he allowed 2 ER on 6 H and 2 BB, striking out 7, over 5.0 IP against the Mariners. He was outpitched by Marco Gonzales (7.0 shutout innings, 6 H, 0 BB, 4 K) and his 6 swinging strikes does raise a bit of a red flag, though a 12.0% SwStr% entering the day tells us it may be more of an aberration than anything. The bigger issue has been luck related, as his Hard% was elevated but not atrocious (38.5%) but he’s struggled with a .477 BABIP and 53.5% strand rate. Things should continue to get better as he adjusts to the Majors and be prepared for a strong 2020 from Opening Day.

3) Cavan Biggio fills the box score as he shows off his full potential…
There’s no questioning the upside, though the results have been hit or miss as he’s struggled with strikeouts (108 K over 313 AB) leading to a .230 AVG. That said he showed just how good he can be yesterday, as he hit for the cycle finishing the day 4-5 with 1 HR, 4 RBI, 3 R and 2 SB. That gives him 14 HR and 13 SB in the Majors, while also adding 15 doubles and 2 triples. The blend of power and speed is what we thirst for, especially from a middle infielder, and the strikeout rate may be more due to being overly patient than anything. Just consider that he entered the day with a 17.1% walk rate while always showing a potentially elite approach at the plate (8.3% SwStr%, 15.7% O-Swing%). That all screams of an elite makeup, and this time in the Majors in ’19 should allow him to adjust and be ready to take an even bigger leap in ’20.

4) So much for fatigue plaguing Chris Paddack down the stretch…
While the return of Brandon Woodruff (2.0 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 1 BB, 4 K) is going to get the bulk of the attention, it’s Paddack’s performance that was bigger. Going 5.0 innings he made one mistake (a solo home run to Lorenzo Cain), finishing allowing 1 R on 1 H and 1 BB, striking out 9. He generated 15 swinging strikes and now has 7+ K in four straight starts, giving him 153 K over 140.0 IP overall. Pairing strikeouts with elite control is promising (1.99 BB/9 entering the day), but the question will be whether or not he can consistently keep the ball in the ballpark. He entered the day with a 1.46 HR/9 courtesy of a 40.1% groundball rate, while a 42.3% Hard% and .241 BABIP also scream of a potential regression. That doesn’t mean that he won’t be a productive pitcher in ’20, just don’t be surprised if he takes a step back if he doesn’t make any adjustments.

5) Victor Robles is quietly heating up down the stretch…
Often hyped, Robles has continued to fail to live up to expectations. Even this season, as he was given a full look in the Majors, you could argue that he hasn’t lived up to the expectations as he’s hitting .257 over 509 AB. At the same time he’s now on a six game hitting streak after going 2-3 with 2 RBI, 1 R and 1 SB yesterday, and he now has 17 HR and 26 SB overall. Having added 32 doubles and 3 triples it’s clear that there’s a little bit more power for him to tap into (he could grow on his 12.7% HR/FB), and there also is no questioning his speed. We’d like to see him draw a few more walks (5.8% walk rate) and improve his Hard% (24.2%), but don’t now start ignoring his potential. He could fully breakout in 2020.

6) Another impressive outing from Sonny Gray…
While Yu Darvish was piling up the strikeouts (despite allowing 4 ER he whiffed 13 over 7.0 IP), it was Gray who starred. Going 6.2 IP he allowed 2 ER on 4 H and 3 BB, striking out 9, to improve to 11-7 with a 2.80 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and 199 K over 170.1 IP. The move to the NL has clearly worked for him, as he entered the day with an 11.3% SwStr% (before getting 14 swinging strikes yesterday) and he’s paired it with enough control (3.46 BB/9) and he’s continued to generate groundballs (51.4% entering the day, before 7 groundballs vs. 4 fly balls). While there has been a little bit of luck (.257 BABIP, 80.5% strand rate), it’s become clear that what he truly needed was getting out of New York. He’s going to be a solid option in ’20.

7) Lance Lynn again gets beaten by the long ball…
Obviously it’s been a good season for Lynn, who owns a 3.77 ERA and 1.24 WHIP over 195.2 IP, but he’s had his issues late (and that’s not a complete surprise). Taking on Justin Verlander (6.0 shutout innings with 8 K) and the Astros he took the L yesterday, as he was beaten by three home runs and finished allowing 4 ER on 7 H and 1 BB, striking out 8, over 7.0 IP. Considering he entered the day with a 0.81 HR/9, despite a 41.3% groundball rate, and it’s easy to envision why a regression was expected. The improvement in his strikeout rate has proven to be real and his control has been solid all year, but don’t expect him to replicate the performance in 2020. He’ll likely find his way onto the over draft list.

8) Marcus Stroman surprisingly shines in Coors Field…
He was terrific against the Rockies, tossing 7.0 shutout innings allowing 4 H and 1 BB, striking out 7. It’s easy to argue that it was his best start as a Met, though once an elite groundball pitcher he generated just 6 groundballs vs. 6 fly balls yesterday. He entered the day with a 46.9% groundball rate as a Met, compared to a 56.3% mark in Toronto. He has been showing more strikeout stuff, with 50 K over 49.0 IP, and if he can figure out how to pair that with an improved groundball rate he’d have the potential to really emerge as an elite option. He’s not there right now, but don’t be surprised to see him fully emerge as he pitches the full year in the National League in 2029.

9) Corey Seager has a huge day as he heats up down the stretch…
While the Dodgers couldn’t get going against Blake Snell (2.0 perfect IP, 4 K), they racked up 7 runs against the Tampa Bay bullpen. Seager led the way, going 2-4 with 4 RBI and 1 R, and now has a four-game hitting streak (including three multi-hit games). Obviously with power up across the game seeing “just” 16 HR to go along with a .265 AVG is slightly disappointing, but the power potential is there (he’s added 41 doubles) and he’s also shown an ability to hit the ball hard (40.0% Hard%) to go along with a good approach. Does he scream of a potential post-hype sleeper? Absolutely, though it’s not like he’s been “bad” in ’19 anyways.

10) The strong finish for Oscar Mercado continues…
An extremely cold stretch led many to jump off the bandwagon, but Mercado has turned things around in impressive fashion. He went 2-5 with 1 HR, 1 RBI and 2 R yesterday and he’s now on an 8-game hitting streak (including four straight multi-hit games). Over this stretch he’s gone 14-35 with 2 HR, 4 RBI and 6 R. Obviously we’d like to see a bit more in the counting stats and it’s disappointing that he hasn’t stolen a base during this stretch, but the production is positive all the same. He has the potential to be a Top 25 outfielder displaying both power and speed, and seeing him flourish down the stretch only helps to strengthen that thought.

Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs

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