10 Important Stories From 09/20/20 Box Scores: 2021 Sell High Candidates, Who Can Be Trusted For Final Week & More

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Michael Chavis helped lead the Red Sox to a victory, going 2-4 with 2 HR, 5 RBI and 3 R. Carlos Carrasco tossed a gem against the Tigers, tossing 7.0 shutout innings allowing 1 H and 3 BB while striking out 11. Jack Flaherty got the W over the Pirates, allowing 1 ER on 2 H and 2 BB, striking out 11, over 6.0 IP. What else happened on the field that we need to know about? Let’s take a look:

1) John Means, strikeout machine?!?…

While Ryan Yarbrough’s performance was notable on the other side (7.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 H, 2 BB, 8 K), Means stole the show. Over 5.2 IP he allowed 1 ER on 3 H and 0 BB, striking out 12, as he made one mistake (a home run to Willy Adames). Of course Means still owns a 5.02 ERA, despite allowing 1 ER in each of his past three starts. The glaring issue is the long ball, as he’s allowed at least 1 HR in six straight starts (and in 8 of his 9 starts this season). The southpaw entered the day with a 32.8% career groundball rate (190.1 IP) and he allowed a 1.34 HR/9 last season. While this season has been extreme, it looms large considering this type of strikeout day is the aberration. He’s easily ignored.

2) Tanner Houck outpitches Deivi Garcia, by a lot…

This was an intriguing matchup of young starters, but it was a one-sided duel:

  • Tanner Houck – 6.0 IP, 1 R (0 ER), 1 H, 3 BB, 4 K
  • Deivi Garcia – 3.0 IP, 6 ER, 8 H, 1 BB, 2 K

Garcia was burned by a pair of home runs, and that’s a risk that’s been looming large all season (35.7% groundball rate entering the day, 37.4% over 40.0 IP at Triple-A last season). Considering there’s always been a risk of control issues, he was always a high risk, high reward option.

As for Houck, he too has a history of control issues and the groundball rate is hardly elite. While he’s been impressive over his first two starts, the upside is capped and he’s impossible to trust the rest of the way.

3) Dylan Cease completely loses control…

Taking on the Reds Cease finished with 5 K over 3.0 IP and he didn’t allow a hit… That seems positive, but he was ultimately charged with 3 ER as he walked 7 in the ugly outing. It’s the second straight start where he’s walked at least 5 batters, and the third time in his past five. The control has been a consistent issue in the Majors (4.37 BB/9 over 123.2 IP entering the day), while he’s also lacked groundballs (38.3% groundball rate entering the day). Poor control and the risk of home runs? That’s a disaster waiting to happen, making him a pitcher not to trust despite the solid overall ERA.

4) Kyle Wright steps up, finally, and delivers a gem…

Rick Porcello nearly matched Wright (7.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 H, 2 BB, 10 K), but it wasn’t enough. Wright tossed 6.1 shutout innings, allowing 1 H and 1 BB while striking out 6. We’ve consistently talked about his upside, including a 9.29 K/9, 2.80 BB/9 and 47.2% groundball rate over 112.1 IP at Triple-A last season. He’s consistently struggled with his control (6.93 BB/9 over 50.2 IP) and home runs (2.13 HR/9) in the Majors, but the upside is so much greater than that. Hopefully this is the start of things to come.

5) Madison Bumgarner finally shows signs…

Taking on the Astros Bumgarner finally delivered a strong outing, tossing 5.0 shutout innings allowing 2 H and 1 BB, striking out 7. On the surface it’s promising, though these underlying metrics tell a slightly different story:

  • Swinging Strikes – 9
  • Groundballs / Flyballs – 2 / 6

So he wasn’t generating many groundballs, nor was he a strikeout machine. Home runs were a big concern entering the season and when healthy his SwStr% has been disappointing (7.5% entering the day). In other words, he’s impossible to trust.

6) Despite the L, Tony Gonsolin shines in Coors Field…

Gonsolin allowed 2 ER on 3 H and 1 BB, striking out 10, over 5.0 IP to fall to 1-2 with a sparkling 1.77 ERA. Only throwing 82 pitches, he induced 19 swinging strikes. However before we get overly excited, look at these underlying metrics entering the day:

  • BABIP – .213
  • Strand Rate – 84.0%
  • HR/9 – 0.50 (despite a 34.0% groundball rate)

The overall numbers are impressive, but everything points towards an implosion. While it’s possible he keeps it rolling in ’20 for one more start, long-term he screams of a sell high candidate.

7) Teoscar Hernandez continues his 2020 power binge…

Hernandez went 2-5 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 1 R, putting him at .307 with 16 HR and 30 RBI on the season. Obviously the question we have to ask is whether or not he’s really this good? These metrics, entering the day, tell the story…

  • BABIP – .366
  • Strikeout Rate – 30.9%
  • SwStr% – 15.4%
  • HR/FB – 35.7%

While he hits the ball extremely hard, he strikes out far too much and is due for a regression in his luck and home run rate. In other words he may be good, but there’s no way he’s this good. Expect a regression, or view him as a sell high candidate for 2021.

8) Could Joe Musgrove finally realize his sleeper potential…

A perennial sleeper, Musgrove always seems to disappoint. However he delivered 6.0 shutout innings against the Cardinals, allowing 3 H and 1 BB while striking out 11. He was getting swings and misses (18) and generated enough groundballs (5 groundballs vs. 3 flyballs), just adding to how impressive the outing was. He now has 19 K over his past 11.0 IP, and his problem this season as surprisingly been home runs (1.69 HR/9 entering the day) and a little bit of poor luck (.344 BABIP). Both of those should get corrected, considering his 29.0% Hard%, and while he could finish strong expect him to once again find himself on sleeper lists for 2021.

9) Is Dinelson Lamet truly emerging as an ace…

Taking on the Mariners Lamet finished allowing 1 ER on 2 H and 2 BB, striking out 10, over 6.0 IP though he had to settle for a no decision. With 17 swinging strikes it’s hard not to get excited, though you obviously have to wonder if it’s possible he can maintain his current 2.07 ERA and 0.89 WHIP. There’s no questioning the potential, but with the luck metrics (.244 BABIP, 84.0% strand rate) and significant risk of home runs (32.8% groundball rate) it would seem like a regression is coming quickly. He’s a good pitcher, but not an ace and that makes him a sell high candidate for 2021.

10) Could Max Kepler finish the 2020 season strong…

Hitting atop the Minnesota lineup Kepler went 3-4 with 1 HR (as well as 1 double), 3 RBI and 2 R. He’s been solid, though unspectacular, in ’20 hitting .219 with 8 HR over 151 AB. It’s looking like last year’s success (.252 with 36 HR) is looking like the aberration, though it’s obvious that his 30.8% Hard% should improve. While he is hitting a few too many balls in the air (47.5% flyball rate), he’s using the entire field (25.8% Oppo%) and has a strong approach (8.0% SwStr%, 25.8% O-Swing%). The upside is there to get scorching hot, so don’t underestimate the upside.

Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs

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