10 Important Stories from 09/27/19 Box Scores: Identifying Potential 2020 Breakouts, Intriguing Young Pitchers Display Varying Degrees Of Upside & More

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The final few days 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)A solid finish for Zach Plesac, though it’s no reason for optimism…
Taking on the Nationals he allowed 2 ER on 6 H and 1 BB, striking out 6, over 5.0 IP though he settled for a no decision. While he struggled down the stretch he finishes with a 3.81 ERA and 1.23 WHIP over 115.2 IP and that makes him seem like a strong bet moving forward. That would be a mistake, as he hasn’t shown much strikeout potential (9.4% SwStr%, 26.7% O-Swing% entering the day) and home runs are going to be a significant issue (39.1% groundball rate, 1.55 HR/9). Even yesterday he wasn’t generating a significant number of swinging strikes (10) or groundballs (3 groundballs vs. 5 fly balls). The numbers look good, but he’s going to have little value in ’20 and beyond.

2) Is it time to believe in the Pirates’ Kevin Newman…
He had a monster day yesterday, going 2-4 with 2 HR, 5 RBI and 2 R, including a walk-off home run off of Raisel Iglesias (who allowed 2 ER on 2 H over 0.2 IP for the BSV/L). Newman now has a .310 AVG to go along with 12 HR and 16 SB, so he’s shown some upside across the board. Of course he’s also posted a 26.9% Hard% and doesn’t draw many walks (5.2% walk rate entering the day), so you have to wonder just how high of a ceiling he may have. If his luck regresses (.335 BABIP) things could get ugly, so while there’s a little bit of power and speed he won’t be more than a back-end option.

3) Despite the potential, Pablo Lopez stumbles again…
Taking on the Phillies on the road he allowed 4 ER on 8 H and 0 BB, striking out 3, over 4.1 IP. He’s gotten a lot of hype at times this year, but he finishes the year with a 5.09 ERA over 111.1 IP. Of course that doesn’t mean that there’s no potential, as he posted 95 K vs. 27 BB and a solid 1.24 WHIP. He entered the day with a 47.8% groundball rate, 10.2% SwStr% and 36.4% Hard%. Obviously none of those underlying marks are going to blow you away, but they all have the potential to improve with experience. Maybe he’s not ultimately a stud, but a viable SP4 type with the upside for more in ’20? Let seems about right.

4) Another strong showing for Tyler Glasnow…
This one came against the Blue Jays and it only lasted 66 pitches, but he tossed 4.1 hitless innings allowing 4 K and 2 BB. Obviously it’s not a lot, but over his past three appearances (10.1 IP) he allowed 0 R on 4 H and 3 BB, striking out 16. In 60.2 IP overall this season he owned a 1.78 ERA and 0.89 WHIP, as well as 76 K vs. 14 BB. Does that mean he’s locked in to thrive in 2020 and beyond? Of course not, especially pitching in the AL East, but entering the day with a 50.1% groundball rate, 30.0% Hard% and 12.1% SwStr% all of the skills are there to get the job done. He could develop into one of the elite, and while he won’t carry that price tag he could get there.

5) Marcus Stroman continues to find his footing…
Obviously Pete Alonso is going to get a lot of attention, going 1-3 with 1 HR, 1 RBI and 2 R as he tied Aaron Judge’s rookie record with 52 HR. However it’s the development of Stroman, who struggled initially upon arriving in New York, that’s more important. Sure it came against an Atlanta team with little to play for, but he allowed 2 ER on 6 H and 1 BB, striking out 8, over 6.0 IP. He generated both swinging strikes (14) and groundballs (9 groundballs vs. 1 fly ball), and if he can continue doing both you could get an elite option in ’20. Time will tell, but allowing 2 ER or fewer in each of his final four starts the hype could grow quickly.

6) If Dakota Hudson was showing even decent control…
He’s pitched well this season, finishing with a 3.35 ERA, but a 1.41 WHIP is going to help to disguise it. Yesterday was a prime example as he tossed 5.0 shutout innings allowing 2 H with 10 K, as he walked 5 and has now walked 4+ in three of his past four starts. He’s shown more upside than this in the past, and if he can get back there with his 56.7% groundball rate there at least will be some intrigue moving forward. Of course, despite the strikeout total yesterday he’s shown little upside there (9.6% SwStr%) and he’s also been hit consistently hard (40.7% Hard%). With better control he’d at least be a solid back-end/streaming option, but at this point the risk outweighs the potential reward.

7) Giancarlo Stanton shows some sign of life…
He’s struggled mightily since returning to the Yankees, striking out 9 times over 18 AB heading into yesterday. He showed that he may just be shaking off the rust, though, going 3-3 with 1 HR and 3 RBI (while also walking twice). Obviously injuries have helped to derail his season, with just 52 AB, but a healthy Stanton is going to have significant value given the way home runs are flying out of the ballpark and putting his power in Yankee Stadium. His perceived value is going to make him a buy low candidate next season, and one that’ll likely be well worth targeting.

8) A dominant performance from the Astros’ Jose Urquidy…
Taking on the Angels he tossed 6.0 shutout innings allowing 3 H and 1 BB, striking out 2. Over his past four appearances he’s allowed 3 ER over 18.0 IP, though yesterday he wasn’t generating a significant number of swings and misses (10) or groundballs (5 groundballs vs. 9 fly balls). The former isn’t an issue, considering between the Majors and minors he has 174 K across 144.0 IP, and he’s paired it with elite control (1.54 BB/9 in the Majors). It’s his ability to keep the ball in the ballpark that’s going to be key, given his 37.1% groundball rate in the Majors (32.4% at Triple-A). If he can solve that issue he will have significant value and he’s an intriguing name given the potential openings in the Astros’ rotation in 2020.

9) A fairly strong final start for Justus Sheffield…
It came against the A’s, and a lineup that included all of it’s top players, so we can’t discount the performance. Sheffield went 5.0 IP allowing 1 ER on 5 H and 4 BB, striking out 2, so he was also far from dominant. He finishes with a 5.50 ERA and 1.72 WHIP over 36.0 IP in the Majors, struggling with 18 BB. Let’s not forget thathe only seemingly found himself after he was demoted back to Double-A, having posted a 6.87 ERA over 55.0 IP at Triple-A this season. There’s a little bit of upside, but there’s also a lot of growth to be done before he gets there. Don’t think of him as a can’t miss option heading into ’20.

10) Just how good could Walker Buehler be moving forward…
Obviously this wasn’t the best start, allowing 2 R on 5 H and 4 BB, striking out 8, over 5.0 IP against the Giants, but it was just the final piece in his true breakout campaign. He finishes the year going 14-4 with a 3.26 ERA, 1.04 WHIP and 215 K over 182.1 IP. Those looking for reason to question him are going to point towards his 42.1% Hard% and the regression in his groundball rate (42.7%) as reasons for concern heading into 2020. That’s fair, and given the spike in his innings pitched (153.1 IP in ’18, 182.1 already in ’19) that will only continue it will be something to at least monitor. Regardless, he’s looking like a Top 10-15 starter and may be even better assuming he can “fix” the potential issues.

Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs

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