Around the Majors: July 4, 2013: Young Starters (Cole, Gibson), Veterans Rebounding (Kemp, Kennedy) & More

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

There’s nothing better than holiday baseball, is there?  The games started early yesterday and left us with plenty of storylines to follow.  There were numerous young starters on the hill, pitching to mixed results (like Taylor Jordan, Kyle Gibson and Gerrit Cole).  There were veterans trying to reestablish themselves (like Justin Verlander and Ian Kennedy).  There were big days at the plate, like from Brett Wallace who tried to finally prove that he belongs in the Majors.  Let’s take a look at everything from yesterday’s action:

  • Wilson Ramos came off the DL and played for the first time since May 15, so one would think that he could show a little bit of rust.  However, that hardly was the case as he went 3-4 with 1 HR, 5 RBI and 1 R.  He should split time with Kurt Suzuki behind the plate, but if he keeps hitting like this he is obviously going to see significantly more playing time.  In two-catcher formats he is well worth stashing as he has proven to be productive when healthy (.267, 15 HR in 389 AB in 2011).
  • It was a strong outing for Taylor Jordan, allowing 2 ER on 6 H and 0 BB, striking out 3, over 5.2 IP.  Of course it was against the Brewers, but he’s proven that he has the ability to compete in the Majors after his first two starts.  He showed great control in the minors prior to his recall (15 BB over 90.1 IP), though the strikeout stuff is limited.  Consider him a backend option.
  • Daniel Murphy has proven to be a streaky hitter, and right now things are going in the wrong direction.  He went 0-5 with 1 BB yesterday, seeing just 15 pitches on the day.  He’s just not giving Eric Young Jr. an opportunity to run (when he gets on base) and he’s now 4-22 over his past five games.  Things should turn back before long, and he’s proven to be a viable middle infielder.  All we can do is sit tight and wait.
  • Ian Kennedy had appeared to be pitching better prior to his suspension and, while he got off to a rough return, he looked good last night allowing 2 ER on 6 H and 2 BB, striking out 8, over 7.0 IP.  While he entered the day with a 23.9% line drive rate, it had been trending down (20.7% in June).  If you can still acquire him cheap, he’s worth the gamble.
  • While Allen Webster earned his first career victory, he wasn’t necessarily impressive in doing so.  He allowed 2 ER on 5 H and 4 BB, striking out 4, over 6.0 IP and holds a 7.88 ERA in the Majors.  Until he shows something he’s not worth the gamble.
  • Big day for Jacoby Ellsbury, going 3-4 with 1 HR, 1 RBI and 3 R.  He is now on a 14-game hitting streak, going 25-59 with 1 HR, 8 RBI, 12 R and 2 SB.  We’d obviously love to see him stealing a few more bases, but we can’t have everything can we.
  • Gerrit Cole finally flashed a little bit of strikeout stuff, with 5 K over 5.1 IP, but that’s where the positives end.  He allowed 3 ER on 8 H and 1 BB, putting him at a 3.94 ERA and 1.31 WHIP on the season.  As a rookie pitcher we have to expect some inconsistency and the strikeout upside is still questionable.  The potential is there, but don’t yet view him as anything close to a must use option.
  • The White Sox had Dayan Viciedo hitting cleanup?  He went 0-4 yesterday and is now hitting .233 with 5 HR and 23 RBI on the season.  While the spot would add to his potential, it’s hard to imagine him sticking there while Paul Konerko is on the sideline.
  • Nolan Reimold was in as the DH and went 0-2 (before being lifted for a pinch hitter). He’s now 2-8 in three games since coming off the DL and, while he should be given an opportunity to claim the DH role, it’s far from a given that he holds it down.  He’s always been injury prone, never getting more than 358 AB in a season.
  • Lorenzo Cain went 2-4 with 1 HR, 4 RBI and 1 R, putting him at .262 with 4 HR, 35 RBI, 35 R and 9 SB on the season.  He’s currently in a timeshare with David Lough and Jarrod Dyson for two spots (though all three played last night with Alex Gordon banged up), though he has the most upside and could easily claim a full-time role.  Cain entered the day with a 24.1% line drive rate and a .321 BABIP (so there’s upside) and could improve on his 6.4% HR/FB.  In other words, he’s a player worth targeting.
  • The Yankees torched Kyle Gibson, as he allowed 8 ER on 11 H and 1 BB, striking out 2, over 5.1 IP.  It’s just one outing so we shouldn’t read too much into it.  He should continue to get a look in the rotation and does offer significant potential (he did generate 10 groundball outs).  With solid control, he should see better days, though that doesn’t mean he’s a pitcher you want in your lineup every week.  He’s going to be inconsistent, like the majority of young starters.
  • We have long heard of the potential of Brett Wallace, though he never seems to live up to the hype.  He provided a big day yesterday, though, going 3-5 with 2 HR, 4 RBI and 2 R.  While he has struggled overall in the Major Leagues, he hit .326 with 11 HR in 233 AB at Triple-A this season.  The problem could be his ability to make consistent contact (26.4% strikeout rate at Triple-A), so he’s still not a player worth rolling the dice on.
  • Chris Archer pitched well for the Rays, allowing 2 ER on 2 H and 3 BB, striking out 5, over 6.0 innings in a no decision.  With starts against the Twins and Astros next week and considering his upside, he’s someone worth considering as a pitch and ditch type option.
  • Dan Straily returned to the Major Leagues in style, tossing 7.0 shutout innings allowing 1 H and 3 BB, striking out 6.  While last season’s minor league strikeout rate was likely an aberration, he entered the day with a 61.4% strand rate so there is little reason to think that he can’t continue to rebound.  He should offer a solid strikeout rate (7.16 K/9 entering the day) and good control (2.70 BB/9 entering the day).  In other words, don’t run away from him due to the overall poor numbers.
  • There was no Miguel Cabrera for the Tigers last night, yet they still managed 11 R and 16 H.  The biggest performance came from Austin Jackson, who went 4-5 with 1 HR, 3 RBI and 4 R from the leadoff spot.  Despite only playing in 53 games he’s now scored 51 runs on the year.  He may not maintain his current line drive rate (27.5%), but has the strikeout rate down (18.4%) and should continue to post a solid average.  As long as he’s getting on base he’s going to score a lot of runs, given the lineup behind him, and should be considered a solid option in all formats.
  • Justin Verlander, who has not lived up to expectations this season, was tremendous yesterday against the Blue Jays.  He twirled 7.0 shutout innings allowing 3 H and 2 BB, striking out 5.  Maybe this will be the start to get him on track, though time will tell.
  • Henderson Alvarez came off the DL to allow 3 ER on 5 H and 0 BB, striking out 2, over 5.0 IP.  He should ultimately take the spot of Ricky Nolasco in the rotation (when he’s finally traded), but he’s not a pitcher worth trusting.
  • It was a solid outing for Julio Teheran, allowing 3 ER on 6 H and 2 BB, striking out 7, over 5.0 innings of work.  He now owns a 3.23 ERA and 1.21 WHIP, and the key has been an improved strikeout rate (7.89 K/9).  He has benefitted from an 82.9% strand rate, so there could be at least a small regression, but Teheran has proven to be a viable option in all formats.
  • It was a big day for Marcel Ozuna going 3-5 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 1 R.  Could he get scorching hot once again?
  • Martin Perez went 5.1 innings allowing 1 R (0 earned) on 8 H and 2 BB, striking out 4.  While he owns a 1.85 ERA on the season, he has failed to strike opponents out (4.44 K/9) and has been hammered (32.1% line drive rate).  Does that sound like a mix that we want to trust?  Long considered a top prospect, he needs to show a lot more than this before fantasy owners can trust him.
  • Another day, another big performance from Raul Ibanez (4-5, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 R).  He’s hitting .257 with 21 HR and 49 RBI on the season.  How long can we realistically expect this to continue?
  • Matt Kemp went 2-5 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 1 R, giving him a home run in back-to-back games (4-10, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 2 R).  Would it surprise anyone if this was simply the start of something big to come from Kemp?  The chance to buy low has likely come and gone already.
  • Josh Hamilton went 1-3 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 1 R, giving him a 9-game hitting streak (12-30 with 1 HR, 6 RBI and 9 R).  It’s about time we got something from him, isn’t it?

Bullpen Notes:

  • Drew Storen got bombed for 3 ER on 3 H (including 2 HR), striking out 2, over his inning of work but ultimately was rewarded with the W.  He’s now allowed 7 ER over his past two appearances and clearly should be considered third inline as of this moment (behind Rafael Soriano and Tyler Clippard).
  • It was a crazy game between the Diamondbacks and Mets, one that ultimately led to Brandon Lyons being designated for assignment.  It also saw Heath Bell blow his fourth save, giving up yet another home run (8 HR in 33.1 IP).  You would think it’s just a matter of time, if it’s not imminent, that J.J. Putz is returned to the closers role so plan accordingly.
  • Edward Mujica blew his first save of the season, allowing 2 ER on 4 H over 0.2 innings of work.  It was bound to happen sooner or later, wasn’t it?  Adam Wainwright owners just wish it didn’t come at his expense.

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