10 Important Stories From 09/18/20 Box Scores: Young Pitchers Emerging (Plesac), Others Who Could Implode & More

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Tyler Glasnow twirls a gem against the Orioles, allowing 1 ER on 4 H and 2 BB, striking out 10, over 5.0 IP to improve to 4-1 on the season. Brian Anderson erupted in the second game of a double header (after going 0-3 in the first game), going 3-4 with 3 HR, 7 RBI and 3 R. Kyle Hendricks tossed a gem against the Twins, with 8.0 shutout innings allowing 3 H and 1 BB, striking out 10. What else happened on the field that we need to know about? Let’s take a look:

1) Dylan Carlson returns to the Majors with a bang…

Carlson was a bitter disappointment in his first opportunity in the Majors, but after striking out as a pinch hitter in game one of the double header he was a difference maker in the second. Getting the start in centerfield he went 2-3 with 1 HR, 3 RBI and 1 R, and it’s easy to envision him carving out regular playing time over the final week of the season. There’s no questioning the upside, with 26 HR and 20 SB between Double-A and Triple-A last season, so grab him now and hope he can help carry you over the final few days (especially with the Cardinals forced to play a lot of games).

2) Tyler Mahle delivers a gem against the White Sox…

Mahle went 5.2 innings allowing 1 ER on 4 H and 2 BB, striking out 8, to even his record at 2-2 to go along with a 3.97 ERA. It’s the third time in his past five starts that he’s had at least 8 K, though there have been some highs and lows as he’s tried to entrench himself as a viable option. While the strikeout stuff is there, other questions loom large:

  • BABIP – .239
  • Groundball Rate – 28.6%

So the luck will likely regress and home runs could become a significant issue. That’s a scary combination, even with the strikeout stuff, and makes him tough to trust.

3) Is it time to buy into Zach Plesac’s emergence…

Taking on the Tigers Plesac was fantastic, tossing 7.2 shutout innings while allowing just 5 H and 1 BB. While that was impressive enough, he struck out 11 as he generated 21 swinging strikes. He now owns a 1.85 ERA over 48.2 IP this season as he entered the day showing strikeouts (8.56 K/9) and elite control (0.66 BB/9). Of course there’s little chance that he’s this good, considering the luck metrics:

  • BABIP – .214
  • Strand Rate – 99.1%

Throw in the risk of home runs being a continued issue (37.6% groundball rate, 1.54 HR/9) and it’s easy to envision the downside. That’s not to say that he won’t be a strong option, he’s simply just not this good.

4) Ozzie Albies leads the charge for the Braves…

Atlanta piled on 15 R and 17 H against the Mets, including 6 HR, and Albies arguably had the biggest day. He finished going 2-5 with 2 HR, 3 RBI and 2 R, putting him at .259 with 5 HR, 14 RBI, 14 R and 3 SB over 81 AB. The question comes down to his approach, as his SwStr% currently sits at a career high 13.7% leading to a 23.5% strikeout rate. It is a relatively small sample size, so we don’t want to get overly concerned at this point. That said it’s worth watching when you also add in these numbers:

  • Hard% – 29.5%
  • Oppo% – 16.4%
  • HR/FB – 21.7%

He’s unlikely to maintain the power pace, while he isn’t hitting the ball hard and is extremely pull heavy. Everything points towards a regression, though for another week it’s not impossible he maintains it.

5) Christian Vazquez shows off why he’s one of the top catchers…

The Red Sox stole six bases, and Vazquez swiped two of them as he went 3-5 with 1 RBI, 1 R and 2 SB. He’s now hitting .276 with 5 HR, 16 RBI, 19 R and 4 SB over 156 AB. His power pace isn’t far off from last year’s (HR/FB from 16.0% to 11.9%) and while his approach has taken a small step backwards it isn’t abysmal (10.2% SwStr%). He gets regular playing time and is one of the best hitting catchers in the league, and that’s not about to change.

6) Has Zach Eflin truly emerged as a must use fantasy option…

The Phillies swept a double-header from the Blue Jays, with Eflin setting the tone in game one. He tossed a 7.0 inning complete game shutout, allowing 4 H and 2 BB while striking out 9. In 48.1 IP he owns a pedestrian 4.28 ERA and 1.37 WHIP, though the underlying skills speak to better results:

  • Strikeouts – 11.36 K/9
  • Control – 2.42 BB/9
  • Groundballs – 47.3%

He’s been plagued by a .368 BABIP and you’d expect fewer home runs allowed (1.30 HR/9). Things are heading in the right direction and while there could be some bumps, he’s well worth utilizing.

7) Is Sixto Sanchez’ struggles more than just a small speed bump…

Sanchez was miserable in the first game of the double header, allowing 5 ER on 8 H and 2 BB, striking out 2, over 4.0 IP. You could argue that he was due for a dud, having allowed 2 ER or less in each of his past four starts (and no more than 3 ER in each of his first five starts). Even with the poor showing yesterday he’s showing all of the skills we look for, including a 59.4% groundball rate. Of course he’s still benefited from an 81.5% strand rate, so it’s possible there’s another bump in the road. Depending on your situation he’s worth using, but as a rookie it’s fair to think that there’s going to be some inconsistencies.

8) Could this be the start of a turnaround for Cody Bellinger…

Maybe Bellinger just needed time in Coors Field to set going? He went 3-5 with 1 HR, 3 RBI and 2 R yesterday, giving him a modest four game hitting streak (6-16 over the streak). It’s been a disappointing season, as he’s hitting .228 with 11 HR over 215 PA, though a .228 BABIP is the easy reason to explain the struggles. Granted he’s not hitting the ball as hard as he did a year ago (37.2% Hard%, down from 49.2% a year ago), but does that explain things being this bad? It wouldn’t be shocking to see him get scorching hot for the final few days of the season, so stick with him.

9) Should we believe in Jaime Barria…

HRing on the Rangers Barria allowed 2 ER on 6 H and 0 BB, striking out 8, over 6.1 IP. He’s now made 4 starts since joining the rotation, allowing 8 ER over 21.0 IP. Yesterday he was missing plenty of bats (14 swinging strikes), though he wasn’t generating many groundballs (3 groundballs vs. 8 flyballs). That’s been the trend both this season (35.3% groundball rate) and over his entire MLB career (35.9% over 242.1 IP). It hasn’t been an issue this season, given a 0.59 HR/9, but it’s just a matter of time before it plagues him. Given that risk, it’s simply not worth utilizing him over the final week of the season regardless of the matchup.

10) Manny Machado shows why he never should’ve been overlooked…

Machado went 2-4 with 2 HR, 4 RBI, 2 R and 1 SB, putting him at .318 with 16 HR, 45 RBI, 41 R and 6 SB. Remember when people thought he was no longer elite? Considering his .305 BABIP, 41.2% Hard% and 23.2% HR/FB, everything points to him potentially maintaining this type of pace. Sure you can argue that he’s not “this” good, but there’s little question that he’s among the best options in the league.

Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs

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