10 Important Stories From 09/25/20 Box Scores: Identifying 2021 Sleepers & Busts & More

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Yu Darvish tried to make a push for the NL Cy Young Award, tossing 7.0 shutout innings with 3 H and 1 BB, striking out 5, to beat the White Sox. Strikeouts weren’t an issue for Adalberto Mondesi, for a change, as he filled the box score going 3-3 with 1 RBI, 1 R and 2 SB. Mike Moustakas slugged a pair of home runs (2-4, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 2 R) to help the Reds to a W. What else happened on the field that we need to know about? Let’s take a look…

1) Has Randal Grichuk as a must start option…

Grichuk has really made an impact in the short season as he’s hitting .271 with 11 HR and 32 RBI over 210 AB after going 2-5 with 1 HR, 1 RBI and 2 R. He’s currently on a five-game hitting streak (8-20, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 7 R) and he has benefited from good luck (.298 BABIP entering the day) or an unrealistic home run rate (17.2% HR/FB). It’s a short sample, but he’s actually put fewer balls in the air (36.0% flyball rate), been more willing to use the entire field (29.2% Oppo%) and has made more consistent contact (11.0% SwStr%). In other words there’s reason to believe.

2) Zac Gallen reminds us how good he could be…

Taking on the Rockies Gallen twirled 6.0 shutout innings allowing 5 H and 2 BB, striking out 10. He finishes the season with a 2.75 ERA and 1.11 WHIP, as he was showing enough swings and misses (14) and good groundball stuff (5 groundballs vs. 1 flyball). While he’s not quite this good, having entered the day benefiting from a .255 BABIP and 81.7% strand rate, though he’s done a good job of limiting the hard hits against him (28.2% Hard%). There’s a lot to like, but just know that over the long haul he’d like take a step backwards.

3) Sandy Alcantara leaves us with a positive impression…

Taking on the Yankees is never easy, but Alcantara was up to the challenge despite settling for a no decision. Going 7.1 innings he allowed 3 R (2 earned) on 6 H and 2 BB, striking out 9. His most impressive skill in this one was the groundballs (8 groundballs vs. 2 flyballs), though he entered the day having shown enough of all the skills we look for:

  • Strikeouts – 7.79 K/9 (a 10.8% SwStr% showed a little bit more upside)
  • Control – 3.38 BB/9
  • Groundballs – 49.0%

With his fastball velocity up to 96.5 mph, we’ll take a closer look in the offseason but don’t be surprised if he’s on our sleeper list for 2021.

4) While Mitch Keller was unhittable, it came at a cost…

Sure Keller didn’t allow a hit over his 5.0 IP against the Indians, but he issued 8 walks while striking out 3 so he ultimately allowed 1 ER. Interestingly it’s his second straight hitless appearance (11.0 consecutive hitless innings), but the control issues in this one overshadows it. He needed 98 pitches to get the 15 outs, so he obviously was never going to get a chance to go deeper into the game. There’s no questioning the overall upside, but he needs to find his control in order to get there (he entered the day with a 5.40 BB/9 over 16.2 IP).

5) Is there reason to watch Daniel Ponce de Leon…

Ponce de Leon finished with a flourish, allowing 1 ER on 1 H and 2 BB, striking out 6, over 6.0 IP to defeat the Brewers in the second game of the double header. While he does end with a 4.96 ERA, he also allowed 2 ER or fewer in his final three starts and had 45 K over 32.2 IP. Of course he needs to figure out his control (6.08 BB/9 entering the day, 4.74 over his MLB career) and home run issues (2.36 HR/9), but the potential is there if he can turn the corner slightly.

6) Is this more than a sophomore slump for Chris Paddack…

Taking on the Giants as part of a double header Paddack struggled, allowing 5 ER on 8 H and 1 BB, striking out 3, over 3.2 IP. Obviously 3 HR was the biggest issue, and that’s been an issue throughout the season (14 HR over 59.0 IP). Of course we wouldn’t expect that to be such a big issue, and we’d expect all the results to be better, considering these skills entering the day:

  • Strikeouts – 8.95 K/9
  • Control – 1.79 BB/9
  • Groundballs – 47.1%
  • Hard% – 37.3%

In other words there’s no reason to push the panic button. Instead use this as an opportunity to try buying low heading into 2021.

7) Should fantasy owners write-off Dylan Cease…

At times this season he was viewed as an intriguing sleeper, but his season ended on a sour note. Taking on the Cubs Cease allowed 5 ER on 5 H and 2 BB, striking out 5, over 4.2 IP as he yielded 3 HR. He finishes failing to go past 4.2 IP in his final three starts, and not past 5.0 IP in his final five. While control has been he biggest issue this season (5.25 BB/9 entering the day), he hasn’t generated many groundballs (39.8% groundball rate) and his strikeouts have been down (6.79 K/9). It’s possible that he can figure something out, but right now he’s impossible to trust.

8) Sam Huff shows off his power potential…

Huff took advantage of his opportunity to play yesterday, going 3-4 with 2 HR, 2 RBI and 2 R as he took Jose Urquidy (7.0 IP, 2 ER, 7 H, 0 BB, 5 K) deep both times. Huff has been fantastic when put into the lineup, hitting .357 with 3 HR (and he’s also added 3 doubles) over 28 AB. Making the jump from High-A they are strong numbers, though he’s struggled with strikeouts as expected (17.1% SwStr% entering the day). It will be interesting to see if he’s given an opportunity to win the starting role for 2021, but the more opposing pitchers see him the bigger issues strikeouts will become. Keep that in mind before dubbing him a Top 10 option.

9) Has Jared Walsh earned himself a big role for 2021…

The Angels and Dodgers combined for 8 HR, as Walsh hit one of them finishing 2-5 with 1 HR, 1 RBI and 1 R. He’s now hitting .297 with 9 HR and 24 RBI over 91 AB, and while he’s unlikely to maintain quite this power pace (33.3% HR/FB) he’s been hitting the ball hard (43.8% Hard%) and shown an ability to make consistent contact (10.3% SwStr%). It’s only 32 AB against southpaws but he’s looked like more than a platoon player (.313 with 1 HR), only strengthen his case. Walsh is looking like a player worth owning heading into 2021.

10) Is Ryan McMahon taking advantage of an opportunity…

With Nolan Arenado injured McMahon has been getting regular AB, and while he has 164 AB this season it’s the recent run where he’s flourishing. Yesterday he went 2-3 with 1 HR, 1 RBI and 2 R in the second game of a double header, and now has hits in three of his past four (5-14, 1 HR, 2 RBI and 3 R, while adding 3 doubles). Of course it’s not only playing time that’s been a question, as he owns a 14.3% SwStr%. If he can get that under control he should be a highly productive option in Coors Field, though time will tell.

Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs

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