10 Important Stories from 09/20/19 Box Scores: Finding Difference Makers For The Final Week, Deep League Sleepers Emerge & 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)Could Oscar Mercado be even better than this…
He went 2-4 with 2 RBI, 2 R and 1 SB yesterday, giving him stolen bases in back-to-back games. That was supposed to be the best part of his game, and if he’s finally getting comfortable and is ready to show it his value is only going to rise. He’s stolen as many as 50 bases in a minor league season, and has consistently swiped 30+, so there’s a good chance that he can be a difference maker. He’s hitting .333 with 1 HR and 3 SB in September, and overall he’s at .281 with 12 HR and 15 SB. With a 39.7% Hard% and 9.7% HR/FB there’s nothing unbelievable in the production, and while we’d like to see him cut down on his 11.3% SwStr% he has the potential to be a Top 20 outfielder if the stolen bases really start to come. Continue to run him out there the rest of the way and reap the rewards.

2) Will Kyle Lewis ever slow down…
We keep waiting for it, but he just continues to provide some big power numbers down the stretch. He went 2-4 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 2 R yesterday, putting him at .325 with 6 HR, 12 RBI and 10 R in 40 AB with the Mariners. Now consider that the injury prone outfielder has 30 HR in 1,089 career minor league AB and he had 11 HR in 457 AB at Double-A this season. There was always some power potential but it’s surprising it’s come this strong this quickly, though entering the day with a 55.6% HR/FB tells you that it could stop at any moment. Throw in a 20.3% SwStr% (before 2 more strikeouts yesterday) and it’s easy to envision him going ice cold at the drop of a hat. It’s impossible not to use him, just be prepared.

3) Dylan Cease flashes what’s possible…
While Eloy Jimenez was leading the charge with his bat (3-5, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 2 R), it was Cease’s performance that proved most impressive. While we have to take it with a small grain of salt, given that it came against the Tigers, he still allowed just 1 ER on 5 H and 2 BB, striking out 8, over 6.0 IP to earn the W. Overall it’s been an adjustment to the Majors, as he owns a 5.79 ERA and 1.55 WHIP over 73.0 IP (14 starts). That said he has allowed 3 ER over his last 14.1 IP (3 starts), though he needs to continue to improve upon his control (4.43 HR/9 entering the day) and home runs allowed (2.01 HR/9). The former is the biggest concern, especially since he’s proven that he can limit the hard contact (29.9% Hard%). With improved luck (.324 BABIP) and learning to keep the ball in the ballpark, a post-hype sleeper we may have (though don’t trust him in ’19).

4) Luis Castillo tries to stay with Jacob deGrom, though he fails…
That’s not a knock on Castillo, as both deGrom and Peter Alonso strengthened their cases for individual awards:

  • Jacob deGrom – 7.0 IP, 0 R, 4 H, 0 BB, 9 K, W
  • Peter Alonso – 1-4, 1 HR (giving him 50), 2 RBI, 2 R

It was the home runs allowed that really hurt Castillo, who allowed 2 HR on the night, as he allowed 3 ER on 3 H and 3 BB, striking out 7, over 7.0 IP. After hitting a small bump in August Castillo has finished strong, with a 3.51 ERA over 25.2 IP. His control has wavered a bit (12 BB), but fatigue could be causing that as he’s proving that he’s one of the better young pitchers.

5) A stellar showing for Mike Foltynewicz…
Sure it came against the Giants but he still tossed 8.0 shutout innings allowing 3 H and 1 BB, striking out 7. He He’s now allowed 1 ER or fewer in four straight starts and 2 ER or fewer in seven straight, lowering his ERA from 6.24 on August 11 all the way to 4.46 now. With a 1.26 WHIP and 100 K over 113.0 IP he’s beginning to look like a decent option once again. The biggest question hovering over him has been his ability to keep the ball in the ballpark, entering the day with a 1.80 HR/9 courtesy of a 36.6% groundball rate (9 groundballs vs. 9 fly balls yesterday). He entered the day with a 53.3% groundball rate in September, and if he can continue on this path the production will be there both in ’19 and beyond.

6) Carlos Correa trying to prove that he’s healthy once again…
He always seems to miss time, doesn’t he? Well he proved to be healthy yesterday, and while the Astros will take it easy on him they also want to make sure he has his timing down heading into the playoffs. He hit two of the Astros’ four home runs yesterday, finishing the day 2-4 with 2 HR, 3 RBI and 2 R. Overall he’s hitting .277 with 21 HR and 59 RBI over just 278 AB this season and it’s easy to argue that he could be an MVP candidate if he could stay on the field for 500+ AB. Obviously this wasn’t the year, and maybe it never comes, but we’ll all continue to invest in hopes that it does.

7) Chase Anderson continues trying to show some value…
He’s been pitching better lately, though only working 4.0 innings at a time (he had allowed 5 ER over 12.0 IP in his previous three appearances). He was starting yesterday, shutting down the depleted Pirates’ lineup, tossing 6.0 shutout innings allowing 3 H and 1 BB, striking out 4, over 6.0 IP. Obviously the matchup was advantageous, and it’s not like he was missing bats (10 swinging strikes) or generating groundballs (5 groundballs vs. 9 fly balls). Considering his 35.9% groundball rate entering the day home runs are going to be a concern against more difficult lineups, and he also hasn’t done a great job limiting hard contact (38.7% Hard%). In other words good start against a bad lineup, so don’t get overly excited.

8) Does the Twins’ Randy Dobnak deserve our attention…
This one came against the Royals, but he still allowed 1 ER on 3 H and 2 BB, striking out 5, over 5.1 IP needing just 74 pitches. He’s now allowed 2 ER over 10.1 IP over his past two starts, after proving to be a groundball machine at three separate levels of the minors this year:

  • High-A (22.1 IP) – 59.1%
  • Double-A (66.2 IP) – 58.8%
  • Triple-A (46.0 IP) – 61.1%

With a 12.5% SwStr% and 1.87 BB/9 there is some obvious potential moving forward. That’s not to say that we’d trust him in ’19, but he’s a name to keep a close eye on with the potential to make an impact in ’20.

9) Garrett Hampson continues to try and rebuild his value…
He went 2-4 with 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 R and 1 SB yesterday, and while the overall numbers are underwhelming he’s hitting .417 with 2 HR and 6 SB over 49 AB in September. Obviously he can’t maintain this type of average, but there’s no question that he can be a difference maker with his speed if given the opportunity. Thanks to injuries he’s earned regular playing time, getting a lot of AB in CF but also manning 2B/SS at times, and it makes sense for the Rockies to continue running him out there over the final week of the season to see how he can produce. Having stolen as many as 51 bases in a season in the minors, he could prove to be a real difference maker. Don’t hesitate to grab him if he’s sitting on your waiver wire.

10) Has Merrill Kelly finally found his footing in the Majors…
There was a bit of hype entering the year, but generally he’s fallen a bit flat. He flashed his potential yesterday, tossing 7.0 shutout innings allowing just 2 H and 3 BB, striking out 9, to defeat the Padres. Of course the strikeout number appears a little bit deceiving, as he generated just 10 swinging strikes on the night, and it’s not like it’s been there for much of the season (9.7% SwStr% entering the day). He’s been hit hard (42.1% Hard%) and struggled with home runs (1.48 HR/9, courtesy of a 41.6% groundball rate), so is one start really going to alter the outlook? There’s little reason to think that he’s turned a corner and is ready to thrive heading into ’20.

Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs, MILB.com

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