Around the Majors: July 5, 2013: Selling Samardzija, Nova Dazzles, Cespedes Dropped & More

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

Yesterday certainly had it all, with surprising offensive performances (like Juan Uribe’s 7 RBI night), som struggles on the mound (like Jeff Samardzija & Matt Cain) and some others stepping up and tossing gems (like Ivan Nova).  Throw in Josh Phegley’s Major League debut, Ike Davis’ return from Triple-A and Carl Crawford’s return from the DL and there is an awful lot to discuss.  Let’s take a look at everything we need to know from yesterday’s games:

  • It was a poor outing for Jeff Samardzija, allowing 5 ER on 9 H and 5 BB, striking out 3, over 6.0 innings against the Pirates.  He posted a 4.20 ERA in June and clearly has carried those struggles into July.  Overall the numbers look realistic, but the line drive rate has been trending in the wrong direction (15.2% in April, 22.2% in May and 27.0% in June) and he also entered the day with a drastic home/road split (4.11 ERA/2.71 ERA).  He obviously should remain a must use option, but he’s someone we are going to have to keep a close eye on.  Could selling him be the best move?  It’s at least worth exploring, just to see what you can get.
  • Mark Buehrle twirled a gem, tossing 7.0 shutout innings allowing 6 H and 0 BB, striking out 5.  Of course, it was against the Twins and it snapped a pair of poor outings (8 ER on 15 H and 5 BB over 11.0 IP).  He’s proven to be an unreliable option in all formats.  Until he strings together a few good outings in a row, that’s not about to change.
  • It was a stellar outing for Ivan Nova, going the distance allowing 2 ER on 3 H and 1 BB, striking out 11, against the Baltimore Orioles.  He was stepping in for Hiroki Kuroda and you have to think that he’s earned himself at least another shot.  It used to be that strikeouts were his issue, but that’s clearly no longer the case.  He also brings solid control (3.34 BB/9 entering the day) and a good groundball rate (51.5% entering the day).  A .406 BABIP entering the game was his biggest issue, so if he does find his way back into the rotation there’s a good chance he continues to produce.  He’s a good buy in all formats.
  • Dan Uggla had a nice day at the plate, going 2-4 with 1 HR, 3 RBI and 1 R.  He has been performing better of late, with 8 RBI over his past six games.  We all know the average isn’t going to be good, but he also should improve on his 33.2% strikeout rate (it was recently reported that he got new contacts).  Don’t be surprised to see more days like this in his future.
  • While Rick Porcello threw a gem (7.0 IP, 0 ER, 5 H, 2 BB, 6 K), it was the exact opposite for Justin Masterson.  Taking on the high-powered Tigers he allowed 6 ER on 7 H and 4 BB, striking out 6, over 4.2 innings to fall to 10-7 on the season.  It’s the second time in his past three starts that he has allowed 6 ER and the fourth time in his past nine starts that he’s allowed at least 5 ER.
  • Andrew Cashner got bombed, allowing 6 ER on 5 H and 3 BB, striking out 0, over 2.0 innings against the Nationals.  The strikeouts haven’t been there as a starting pitcher and the Padres have said they are going to give him extra rest at times.  He’s numbers have also been drastically different when pitching at home as opposed to on the road.  If you still can, selling high on him makes sense.
  • Wilson Ramos continued his onslaught, going 2-4 with 3 RBI.  That puts him at 5-8 with 1 HR and 8 RBI in two games since coming off the DL.  Obviously he won’t be able to maintain that type of production, but he quickly could pin Kurt Suzuki on the bench.  If you are desperate for a catcher he’s worth grabbing while he’s hot.
  • The Mariners had Brad Miller at the top of the lineup, where he went 2-4 with 1 R, and Nick Franklin hitting second, where he went 1-4 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 1 R.  Don’t be surprised to see this arrangement a bit more moving forward.
  • Josh Phegley made his Major League debut, going 1-3 with 2 RBI.  He had been hitting .316 with 15 HR in 231 AB at Triple-A and, while he likely will share time with Tyler Flowers for now, he is worth adding in all two-catcher formats.
  • It appears that Desmond Jennings has regained his spot atop the order and went 3-5 with 2 R and 2 SB yesterday.  He now has three 3 H games in his past four and owns a seven game hitting streak (13-32 with 1 HR, 5 RBI, 9 R and 4 SB).  He still has just 13 SB on the season, after having 31 in 33 attempts a year ago.  Don’t be surprised if he continues to accumulate steals moving forward.
  • Interesting to see the Rangers have David Murphy (1-4, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 R) hitting second and Elvis Andrus (1-4, 1 R, 1 SB) hitting eighth.  Andrus has little power and his value stems on his ability to steal bases (18), score runs (44) and hit for average (.243).  He’s never been able to maintain his SB production throughout an entire season and hitting towards the bottom of the order may impact his chance to score runs.  His BABIP is below average (.288) and we would anticipate an improvement there.  He’s not going to be a top option, especially since his speed could dry up (if his trends continue).
  • Yoenis Cespedes was dropped to sixth in the A’s order, where he went 1-4 raising his average to .221.  In his 4 AB he saw a grand total of 8 pitches.  While he’s continued to show power, the strikeouts are up (25.0%) and the line drives are down (16.0%).  We would expect things to improve, but that’s hardly the best combination for success.
  • The Mets-Brewers game featured a pair of young starters, with Zack Wheeler (5.0 IP, 1 ER, 7 H, 3 BB, 3 K) faring better than Johnny Hellweg (3.2 IP, 3 ER, 7 H, 5 BB, 0 K).  Wheeler has struggled since making his Major League debut, which really shouldn’t be a huge surprise.  There has been talk that he’s been tipping his pitches and we would expect the strikeouts to grow as he gets more comfortable.  His problem is that he’s likely going to be unfairly compared to Matt Harvey, a standard no one can live up to.  He’s well worth stashing in all formats.
  • Ike Davis returned to the Major Leagues, getting slotted immediately into the cleanup spot.  He went 3-5 with 2 RBI and 2 R, but it was Kirk Nieuwenhuis who stole the show.  Nieuwenhuis went 4-4 with 5 RBI, 3 R and 1 SB, finishing a HR short of the cycle.  It was a tremendous day, but in general he has struggled to make consistent contact.  While he could earn significant playing time while he’s hot (he went 2-4 with 1 HR in his previous game), he’s not likely to hold down a full-time job.
  • It wasn’t the best start for Jacob Turner, allowing 4 ER on 7 H and 1 BB, striking out 3, over 6.0 IP against the Cardinals.  He’s showing good control (2.49 BB/9) and groundball stuff (50.0%), but he’s not yet generating strikeouts (5.74 K/9) and it’s unlikely that he continues keeping the ball in the ballpark at his current pace (0.19 HR/9).  In other words, there’s likely a regression coming and he’s more of a backend option for now.
  • Tyler Skaggs stymied the Rockies all night long, tossing 8.0 shutout innings allowing 3 H and 1 BB, striking out 5.  He had struggled in his last two Major League starts (10 ER over 10.2 IP) and owned a 4.26 ERA at Triple-A.  However, there was a lot of poor luck in the minors (.340 BABIP, 65.8% strand rate) and he showed great strikeout stuff (10.30 K/9) and solid control (3.32 BB/9).  He should have a spot in the rotation, at least while Trevor Cahill is on the DL, and is worth grabbing in all deeper formats.
  • Felix Doubront finally for a W, allowing 2 ER on 5 H and 2 BB, striking out 5, over 6.2 IP against the Angels.  He’s now allowed 3 ER or less in 10 straight starts (8 of those are 2 ER or less).  Over this span he’s dropped his ERA from 6.40 to 4.11 and he also owns an 8.51 K/9.  While the control isn’t the best (4.01 BB/9), he has enough upside to make him a viable option in all deeper formats.
  • While Carl Crawford didn’t start the game, he entered for Matt Kemp and went 0-3 with 1 R.  We’ll have to wait and see how long Kemp is sidelined for, but for now Crawford should be in the lineup.
  • It was obviously a complete dud for Matt Cain, allowing 8 ER on 6 H and 4 BB over just 2.1 IP.  Things had been improving so don’t let this one poor outing dissuade you from using him.
  • Juan Uribe went 3-5 with 1 HR, 7 RBI and 2 R.  Who saw that coming?!?  He’s now homered in back-to-back games and has 11 RBI in his past three games.  While there’s no guarantee he continues to play (even with Luis Cruz no longer in LA), he’s obviously a good play while he’s streaking.  Just don’t get too infatuated with him.

Bullpen Notes:

  • Remember 2012 when Jim Johnson felt like a sure thing?  That’s certainly not the case in 2013.  He blew his sixth save of the season and fell to 2-7 after allowing 2 R (1 earned) on 2 H and 2 BB over 0.1 inning against the Yankees.  He’s in no risk of losing his job and remains a must use option, at least for now.
  • Interesting that it was Oliver Perez who got the save chance for the Mariners, and strikeout the side doing so. Tom Wilhelmsen isn’t going to be so quick to regain his job apparently.

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