10 Important Stories From 09/22/20 Box Scores: Which Breakouts Are We Buying, Who Are We Giving Up On & More

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Jose Ramirez continued his charge towards the AL MVP, going 1-4 with 1 HR, 3 RBI and 1 R. Marcell Ozuna led the Braves’ offensive outburst, going 4-5 with 2 HR, 5 RBI and 2 R. Framber Valdez thrived against the Mariners, allowing 1 ER on 5 H and 0 BB, striking out 8, over 7.0 IP. What else happened on the field that we need to know about? Let’s take a look:

1) Is the breakout of Kyle Higashioka for real…

It was another big day for Higashioka, who went 2-4 with 2 RBI and 1 R. He’s now on a modest three-game hitting streak, going 6-12 with 3 HR, 8 RBI and 4 R, putting him at .273 over with 4 HR on the season. While he showed signs of his power development last season, his approach at the plate is definitely in question as he entered the day with a 12.4% SwStr% and 38.6% O-Swing%. It’s hard to envision success with those numbers, especially with his flyball heavy ways (50.0% entering). Considering he’s unlikely to overtake Gary Sanchez for full-time AB, he’s easily ignored.

2) Sonny Gray returns from IL and shows his value…

After struggling prior to hitting the IL (11 ER over 4.0 IP), Gray made his return and pitched well against the Brewers. Going 5.0 IP he allowed 1 ER on 2 H and 1 BB, striking out 8, as he was generating swings and misses (10 swinging strikes) and groundballs (5 groundballs vs. 2 flyballs). Even with that two start bump he had been showing all of the skills we look for from a pitcher with an 11.82 K/9, 4.14 BB/9 and 47.8% groundball rate. Obviously we’d like to see a few less walks, but there’s an awful lot to like.

3) Is there any reason to believe in Steven Brault…

Brault delivered a gem against the Cubs, tossing 7.0 shutout innings allowing 2 H and 3 BB, striking out 6. It lowered his ERA to 3.38 and WHIP to 1.22, as he’s now allowed 1 ER over his past 16.0 IP. Of course, before we get overly excited he entered the day showing control issues (4.79 BB/9) and you have to wonder if he’d be able to maintain a 24.5% Hard%. Throw in a mediocre 8.3% SwStr% and 26.1% O-Swing% and it’s easy to see a regression coming over the long haul. Maybe he keeps things going the rest of ’20, don’t expect him to be an ace in 2021.

4) Bryse Wilson is the latest young Brave to step up…

Taking on the Marlins Wilson delivered 5.0 shutout innings allowing 3 H and 1 BB, striking out 7. It’s easy to forget that the 22-year old had shown promise at Triple-A last season, over 121.0 IP:

  • Strikeouts – 8.78 K/9
  • Control – 1.93 BB/9
  • Groundballs – 44.7%

Those types of marks would certainly play at the highest level, though time will tell if he can maintain these types of performances over the long haul.

5) Seth Lugo rebounds with a gem against the Rays…

After getting beaten up in his last start (6 ER over 1.2 IP), Lugo outpitched Blake Snell (5.2 IP, 3 ER, 6 H, 3 BB, 9 K) en route to a victory. Lugo went 6.1 IP allowing 2 R (1 earned) on 4 H and 1 BB, striking out 7, as his one mistake was a home run to Willy Adames. Long wanting to transition to the rotation, Lugo is showing that he belongs in the role and could get the opportunity to build on this success in 2021. Don’t overlook him as a potential starting force next season.

6) Could Nick Pivetta become a viable starter for Boston…

Making his first start since July of ’19 Pivetta pitched well against the Orioles, allowing 1 ER on 4 H and 3 BB, striking out 8. He generated 14 swinging strikes and it’s easy to forget that back in 2018 he had shown off all of the skills we look for from a pitcher:

  • Strikeouts – 10.32 K/9
  • Control – 2.80 BB/9
  • Groundballs – 46.7%

Obviously no one is going to lean on him for one start in ’20, but he could be an intriguing name for sleeper lists in 2021.

7) Brady Singer struggles with his control…

Dylan Carlson did the most damage (3-4, 2 RBI, 2 R) for the Cardinals, but the bigger story was the struggles of Singer. Lasting just 3.0 IP he finished allowing 3 ER on 3 H and 5 BB, striking out 4, as he threw just 44 of 81 pitches for strikes. That wasn’t an issue in the minors in 2019, as he posted BB/9 of 2.04 at High-A and 2.58 at Double-A, and the ability is there to get strikeouts and groundballs. In other words it’s fair to consider this one nothing but an aberration as the upside continues to be there.

8) Griffin Canning shows the upside we know is there…

Taking on the Padres Canning was spectacular, despite some control issues, as he allowed 1 ER on 2 H and 5 BB, striking out 10, over 6.0 IP. His 20 swinging strikes were impressive, and despite the struggles yesterday his control has generally been solid. The concern has always been keeping the ball in the ballpark, with a 37.1% groundball rate over 146.2 IP in the Majors. That’s a risk that’s going to cap his potential, though if he could figure it out he’d potentially evolve into a Top 25 type starter.

9) Does 2020 mark the official breakout of Kyle Tucker…

Tucker went 4-5 with 1 RBI and 1 R yesterday, putting him at .276 with 9 HR, 43 RBI, 32 R and 7 SB for the season. There is some concern, considering his 17.6% Oppo% could help to limit his BABIP, but he’s hitting the ball hard (42.6% Hard%) and showing a good approach (10.5% SwStr%, 31.9% O-Swing%). Even if he were to fall to .250-.260, to go along with power and speed the value is going to be there. We’ll have to watch to make sure he doesn’t become home run happy, but the hope is there.

10) Are we giving up on Frankie Montas long-term…

It’s been a lost season for Montas, who allowed 3 HR to the Dodgers yesterday. He lasted just 4.0 IP allowing 5 ER on 7 H and 1 BB, striking out 3, and now owns an ugly 6.32 ERA. He’s now allowed at least 1 HR in 6 straight starts, with 10 HR allowed over 24.0 IP. It’s interesting as it had appeared that he had figured out his groundballs stuff last season, when he posted a 49.4% groundball rate, but he’s seen it drop to 37.3% this season. Couple that risk with his control issues (4.02 BB/9) and it’s no surprise he’s been a disaster. The long-term upside is still there, but for now he’s impossible to trust.

Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs

2 COMMENTS

  1. Looking to 2021, who do you believe in more Tellez or N. Lowe? Tellez really seemed like he was breaking out this season before injury, but was it something that is believable? Lowe is looking solid, but the trend with the K’s is a little worrisome, but should he be given a pass based on his history?

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