Around the Majors: March 28, 2019: Is Berrios Emerging, Are Snell/Greinke Destined To Disappoint & More

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It was an exciting Opening Day, featuring many impressive performances.  The matchup between Jacob deGrom (6.0 IP, 0 R, 5 H, 1 BB, 10 K, W) and Max Scherzer (7.2 IP, 2 ER, 2 H, 3 BB, 12 K) lived up to the hype.  Aaron Nola got the W, but he clearly wasn’t sharp as he allowed 1 ER on 2 H and 5 BB, striking out 8, over 6.0 IP.  Some big name rookies had fairly lackluster results in their debut:

  • Fernando Tatis Jr. – 2-3
  • Peter Alonso – 1-4
  • Eloy Jimenez – 0-3, 1 RBI, 1 R

What else happened on the field that we need to know about?  Let’s dive in:

1) Both Luke Voit and Greg Bird deliver, but can Voit continue it…
How the playing time is going to be split is one of the storylines for the Yankees, but with Aaron Hicks sidelined they had Voit at DH and Gird at 1B.  While Bird did provide a home run, he finished 1-4 with 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R and 3 K.  Voit, on the other hand, didn’t make an out as he went 1-1 with 1 HR, 4 RBI, 1 R and 2 BB.  There’s been a lot of hype surround Voit and this performance is only going to add fuel to the fire, but remember he benefited from a .365 BABIP and even playing half his games in Yankee Stadium he isn’t going to maintain a 40.5% HR/FB.  It was a nice start to the season, but don’t be surprised if he ultimately takes a significant step backwards during ’19 (and he certainly won’t match his ’18 pace).

2) Kolten Wong surprises with a big performance…
While Miles Mikolas was struggling to keep the ball in the ballpark (he allowed 3 HR), Wong was showing off his own power as he finished going 2-3 with 2 HR, 3 RBI and 2 R.  Wong has long been viewed as a disappointment, as a career .255 hitter with 41 HR and 59 SB over 2,287 PA.  We wouldn’t expect him to suddenly become a big home run hitter, though he’s always brought 10/10 potential (or maybe a little bit more) and has always shown a strong approach (last season he posted a 7.0% SwStr% and 24.9% O-Swing%).  Obviously we aren’t getting excited over one game, but at 28-years old it’s possible he emerges as a strong middle infield option.

3) Marcus Stroman shines on Opening Day…
Of course he didn’t get the W (Jordan Zimmermann matched him, tossing 7.0 shutout innings allowing 1 H and 0 BB) and he was facing the Tigers, but he still tossed 7.0 shutout innings allowing just 2 H and 4 BB while striking out 7.  Toronto didn’t even walk away with a W, as Christin Stewart (1-4, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 R) delivered a ninth inning home run.  As for Stroman the control obviously was a red flag and he also wasn’t generating many groundballs (6 groundballs vs. 6 fly balls).  While we’d love to get excited and try to promote Stroman as a strong buy, at this point he remains more of a streaming option and nothing more.

4) The Dodgers go home run crazy against Zack Greinke…
All told the Dodgers hit 8 HR:

  • Enrique Hernandez – 2-3, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 3 R
  • Joc Pederson – 3-5, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 3 R
  • Corey Seager – 1-3, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R
  • Austin Barnes – 3-4, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 R
  • Max Muncy – 1-4, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 R
  • Cody Bellinger – 2-4, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 R

Four of the home runs came off of Greinke, who allowed 7 ER on 7 H and 2 BB, striking out 3, over 3.2 IP.  While this is a bit extreme, he has had his issues keeping the ball in the ballpark since arriving in Arizona (HR/9 of 1.30, 1.11 and 1.21) and he also benefited from an 80.2% strand rate in ’18.  While he should be better than this, don’t be surprised if this is the start of a disappointing campaign.

5) An inauspicious start for Blake Snell…
Taking on Justin Verlander (7.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 H, 1 BB, 9 K) and the Astros, Snell struggled as he was burned by 3 HR and wasn’t getting many strikeouts.  All told he allowed 5 ER on 6 H and 2 BB, striking out 3, over 6.0 IP.  As we mentioned there was going to be a convenient excuse of not getting much work this spring, though there was also little chance of him replicating last year’s Cy Young success.  While the strikeouts should improve (he only had 11 swinging strikes yesterday), let’s not forget that he benefited from a .241 BABIP and 88.0% strand rate.  It’s easy to envision him falling well short of a Cy Young campaign.

6) A monster day for Javier Baez…
He was hitting in the cleanup spot and he delivered, going 2-5 with 2 HR, 4 RBI and 2 R.  There was understandably some skepticism that he could match his 2018 success, especially with his questionable approach, though he only struck out once yesterday and that’s a positive sign.  Obviously no one is going to read much into one game, though 10 K over 48 AB this spring is going to help add fuel to fire.  Of course he only had 2 BB this spring, so let’s not jump to any conclusions.  While he should produce, there’s a good chance that there are some struggles along the way (last season he had a 17.9% SwStr% and 45.5% O-Swing%).  Taking on a lackluster Texas pitching staff certainly helped, so it’ll be interesting to see how he produces when things get a little bit more difficult.

7) Eric Lauer shuts down the Giants…
He was a surprise Opening Day starter, but he outpitched Madison Bumgarner (7.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 H, 1 BB, 9 K) by tossing 6.0 shutout innings allowing 4 H and 1 BB, striking out 3.  He only needed 70 pitches, though against more difficult opponents can he really replicate it?  Keep in mind that he wasn’t getting many groundballs (3 groundballs vs. 10 fly balls) nor was he getting swings and misses (5).  It was a nice start, but let’s not be so quick to jump on the bandwagon.

8) Jose Berrios steals the show against the Indians…
One of the pitchers we noted could emerge as a Top 10 starter this season, Berrios got off on the right foot, tossing 7.2 shutout innings allowing just 2 H and 1 BB, striking out 10.  He generated an impressive 18 swinging strikes and outpitched Corey Kluber (7.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 H, 1 BB, 5 K).  Let’s not forget that last season’s stats were skewed by a late season swoon, as he may have simply run out of gas in his first full season in the Majors (he threw 192.1 innings and struggled with BB/9 of 4.74 and 4.71 over the final two months, after a 2.05 in the first).  As long as he avoids home runs (41.5% groundball rate in ’18, 4 groundballs vs. 9 fly balls yesterday) he has the chance to take a significant step forward.

9) It was a big day for Rhys Hoskins, and it could be the first of many…
He went 1-3 with 1 HR, 4 RBI and 2 R, providing the biggest and helped to lead to Phillies to victory.  The grand slam was even more noteworthy given the fact that Bryce Harper was intentionally walked ahead of him, loading the bases with the Braves setting the table for Hoskins to deliver.  With Andrew McCutchen (1-4, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 R), Jean Segura (2-4, 2 R) and Harper (0-3, 1 R) consistently setting the table ahead of him, there are going to be ample opportunities for Hoskins.  Will he be able to reach 100 RBI?  Is 115+ out of the question? 

10) While the bullpen tried to blow it, Brad Keller impressed…
Luckily they held on for the win, as it would’ve been a shame had he walked away with a no decision after tossing 7.0 shutout innings allowing 2 H and 1 BB, striking out 5, against the White Sox.  He was a groundball machine, with 8 groundballs vs. 1 fly ball, and while we’d like to see more swinging strikes (9) we knew that was the one thing that could hold down his potential appeal (6.16 K/9 last season).  He brings groundballs (54.4% last season) and if he can continue throwing strikes like this he at least will have some appeal.  He’s not going to be an ace, but there’s value that shouldn’t go ignored.

Bonus – Tim Beckham helps Mariners take it to Chris Sale…
This was about as bad of a start to 2019 as Sale and the Red Sox could’ve imagined, as he allowed 7 ER on 6 H and 2 BB, striking out 4, over 3.0 IP.  Sale got touched for 3 HR (Seattle hit 5 HR total), with Beckham hitting a pair as he finished 2-5 with 2 HR, 3 RBI and 2 R.  He’s now hitting .583 with 3 HR and 5 RBI, though even better is his 0 K vs. 2 BB over 12 AB.  Obviously it’s a small sample size, but early on he’s justifying the decision to send J.P. Crawford back down to Triple-A for more seasoning.  How long it lasts remains to be seen, but ride the wave while you can.

Sources – ESPN, MLB.com, Fangraphs

2 COMMENTS

    • Slightly, but it’s too early to push the panic button obviously. I would expect him to figure it out and right the ship quickly

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