10 Important Stories From 09/23/20 Box Scores: Young Starters Struggle (But Will They Recover), Sell High For 2021 & More

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Bryce Harper helped lead the Phillies to big win over Washington, going 2-2 with 2 HR, 2 RBI and 4 R (he also drew 3 walks). Shane Bieber (5.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 H, 3 BB, 10 K) and Lucas Giolito (6.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 H, 3 BB, 11 K) had an impressive pitchers duel. What else happened on the field that we need to know about? Let’s take a look:

1) Zach Eflin impresses once again…

Eflin likely tired late, as he pitched into the ninth inning (where he was charged with 2 ER). Ultimately he finished allowing 3 ER on 6 H and 1 BB, striking out 9, over 8.0 IP to improve to 4-2 with a 4.15 ERA. It’s his second straight strong start, as he looks to finish the year with a flurry, as he’s shown all of the skills we look for. Just look at the metrics entering the day:

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

While the strikeout rate may not be quite real (10.1% SwStr%), he’s limited the hard contact (25.8%) and should allow fewer home runs (1.30 HR/9). In other words he’s looking like an ideal breakout candidate for 2021.

2) Could Luis Robert become a buy low candidate…

Robert went 0-4 with 3 K yesterday, leaving him with a .220/.291/.435 slash. He hasn’t had a multi-hit game since August 31, he hasn’t hit a HR since September 3 and hasn’t had a hit since September 15. In other words it’s been a miserable end to what appeared to be a promising rookie campaign. As we feared his approach has been abysmal, entering the day with a 22.5% SwStr% and 43.7% O-Swing. With those types of numbers he’s not going to be able to tap into his power or speed, and that’s what we’ve seen in September (30 K vs. 9 BB). The upside is still there, but that doesn’t mean he’s a guarantee to get there.

3) Will Trevor Bauer win the NL Cy Young…

He’s certainly making a strong case, after allowing 1 ER on 4 H and 1 BB, striking out 12, over 8.0 IP against the Brewers despite pitching on short rest. While he’s just 5-4, he owns a 1.73 ERA and 100 K over 73.0 IP. It’s possible he gets another start, depending on where the Reds sit in the standings, but even if he doesn’t take the mound again he would appear to be the favorite to take home the crown.

4) Could Ty France entrench himself in a regular role…

He never seemed to get a shot in San Diego, but he’s delivering in Seattle. He went 2-4 with 2 RBI yesterday and is now hitting .306 with 4 HR and 20 RBI overall this season. Of course there are questions as to whether or not he can maintain the production, as you have to consider the following metrics entering the day:

  • BABIP – .372
  • Hard% – 31.1%
  • Popup Rate – 17.2%

All of those numbers bring questions, so you’ll want to proceed with caution before you fully buy in and believe.

5) Kyle Hendricks pitches well, all be it in defeat…

Hendricks allowed 2 ER on 7 H and 1 BB over 7.2 IP, but he allowed 2 solo home runs and that was his undoing. Of course he also generated just 3 strikeouts, courtesy of 11 swinging strikes, and that’s something that’s been consistently a question throughout his career (7.61 K/9 entering the day). Instead he’s done the job by generating weak contact (26.3% Hard% in ’20) and elite control (0.86 BB/9). We consistently question his potential for a regression, but he also keeps getting the job done. In other words he should continue to be viewed as a solid option.

6) Danny Jansen reminds us why he should be on radars…

The recent performance of Alejandro Kirk has likely made us wonder, but Jansen answered back with a big day of his own by going 4-4 with 2 HR, 3 RBI and 3 R. Of course he’s still hitting just .191 with 6 HR, though he’s shown a better command of the strike zone this season (15.3% walk rate). The question is going to be whether or not he can figure out how to consistently hit the ball hard (18.3% Hard% entering the day) as you have to wonder if he continues to struggle balancing defense with offense. Time will tell if he can put it all together, but the upside is there.

7) It was another subpar start for Sixto Sanchez…

Taking on the Braves Sanchez struggled, allowing 4 ER on 4 H and 4 BB, striking out 2, over 3.0 IP. He’s now allowed 9 ER over his past 7.0 IP (two starts), as his rookie campaign is ending on a sour note. Obviously it can’t undo all of the good he showed when he first debuted, but it also reminds us that we can’t assume any young pitcher is going to thrive without a bump along the way. The potential is there and he should ultimately figure it out, but right now he needs to figure things out in order to thrive consistently at the highest level.

8) Could Randy Arozarena be fully breaking out…

Always the question with Tampa Bay, you have to wonder if he’s going to get regular AB. He got the start yesterday and took advantage, going 3-5 with 2 HR, 3 RBI and 3 R. He’s hitting .278 with 7 HR, 11 RBI and 3 SB. It’s easy to forget that between Double-A, Triple-A and the Majors last season he hit 16 HR with 19 SB, while he added 26 doubles and 4 triples. This type of potential was always possible, though the power should ultimately slow down (he entered the day with a 41.7% HR/FB). He’s also struggled with swing and miss (14.5% SwStr%), so we’ll have to proceed with caution. It’s quite possible we enter 2021 with him as a true sell high candidate.

9) Casey Mize implodes against the Twins…

Lasting 4.2 IP Mize allowed 6 ER on 5 H and 2 BB, striking out 4, as 2 HR were his undoing. He now owns an ugly 6.99 ERA as he’s allowed 7 HR and struggled with his control (13 BB) over 28.1 IP this season. We all know the upside that he possesses, and it’s easy to point towards a little bit of poor luck (62.5% strand rate entering the day). Considering he hasn’t been hit overly hard (31.1% Hard%), it’s easy to envision him turning the corner in 2021. Young pitchers struggle, and that’s all that this should be seen as.

10) Salvador Perez flashes his old form…

The Royals teed off on Carlos Martinez (8 ER over 5.0 IP), and it was Perez who did much of the damage. Perez launched a pair of home runs against Martinez, finishing the day going 3-5 with 2 HR, 5 RBI and 2 R. He’s now hitting .356 with 10 HR and 29 RBI on the season, despite missing all of ’19, though before we fully buy in let’s not ignore that his approach has been as poor as ever:

  • SwStr% – 13.4%
  • O-Swing% – 46.3%

He entered the day benefiting from a .381 BABIP, and over the long haul that won’t be possible to be maintained. Throw in a 21.6% HR/FB (even before yesterday’s outburst) and everything points towards him being overvalued heading into 2021.

Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs

2 COMMENTS

  1. Hi Professor, Can you rank your top three for a back-end SP stash in a H2H,15-team dynasty League from Luke Weaver, Lindblom, D. Peterson, Bryse Wilson, Margevicius, Brubaker or Jefferies? Thanks again, Professor.

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