Around the Majors: July 14, 2013: Teheran Struggles, Archer Impresses, Sabathia Concerning Owners & More

Who stepped up and delivered on the final day of the first half?  Who struggled, sending them into the break on a down note?  There definitely was a mix of both, so let’s take a look at all the news from around the league:

  • Jason Kipnis went 2-2 with 2 RBI and 1 R, finishing the first half by going 5-5 and raising his average to .301 to go along with 13 HR, 57 RBI, 53 R and 21 SB.  He entered the day with promising peripherals, including a 24.2% line drive rate, 16.5% HR/FB and 11.7% walk rate.  While he did struggle in the second half last season (.233, 3 HR, 27 RB), he struggled with poor luck (.276 BABIP despite a 21.9% line drive rate) and saw his HR/FB basically disappear (5.3% after a 12.5% mark in the first half).  In other words there is no reason to think that he is going to disappear once again.
  • It was not the end to the first half that CC Sabathia wanted, allowing 8 R (3 earned) on 8 H and 2 BB, striking out 5, over 4.0 innings.  He’s now 9-8 with a 4.07 ERA.  The strikeouts have been down (7.58 K/9 entering the day) and the home runs are up (1.35 HR/9 entering the day and allowed another one yesterday).  After dealing with injuries last season and the velocity being down (90.6 mph average fastball) there is reason to be concerned.
  • Kyle Gibson earned his second W, but it was hardly impressive as he allowed 3 R (2 earned) on 5 H and 4 BB, striking out 1, over 5.0 innings against the Yankees.  He’s managed just 11 K over 22.1 IP in his four starts.  There’s promise, but we obviously can’t depend on him at the moment.
  • In the midst of throwing a gem (7.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 H, 3 BB, 3 K), Justin Verlander was forced from the game due to a tightness in his quad.  He actually carried a no-hitter into the seventh, before Mitch Moreland broke it up.  Time will tell how serious the injury is, but the Tigers will be able to play with their rotation given the All-Star Break so we should be hopeful that he can avoid the DL.
  • Taylor Jordan pitched well, allowing 2 ER on 8 H and 0 BB, striking out 4, over 6.0 IP.  He owns a 3.32 ERA, but has just 10 K over 21.2 IP and entered the day with a .328 BABIP (20.7% line drive rate).  While he has promise, he’s a low-end option at best and is no lock to stick in the rotation.
  • Chris Davis capped off a memorable first half, going 2-4 with 1 HR, 4 RBI and 2 R.  He’s hitting .315 with 37 HR and 93 RBI and has shown no signs of slowing down.  Of course, his 35.0% HR/FB entering the day is suspicious, but he’s proven to be one of the elite sluggers in the game.
  • It was a poor outing for Josh Johnson, allowing 7 ER on 7 H and 1 BB, striking out 7, over 6.0 IP. He had been pitching better of late, so don’t let this poor outing change things.  While he did enter the day with a 23.0% line drive rate, he also had a below average 66.8% strand rate.  Always a risk in the AL, he’s probably a risk worth taking though not one to depend on.
  • Evan Gattis returned from the DL and was instantly inserted into the cleanup spot.  He went 0-4, dropping his average to .246.
  • Julio Teheran had a hiccup against the Reds, allowing 5 ER on 7 H and 2 BB, striking out 3, over 5.1 IP.  There was room for regression entering the day, given his 81.8% strand rate, but overall it’s hard to find fault in the numbers.  As long as he can maintain his strikeout (7.61 K/9) and walk (1.76 BB/9) rates, he’s going to continue to be a viable option.  That may be a big if, though, so keep that in mind.
  • It was another strong start from Cole Hamels, allowing 2 ER on 8 H and 0 BB, striking out 7, over 8.0 innings against the White Sox.  Over his past three starts he’s allowed 4 ER over 23.0 IP, going 2-0 and reducing his ERA to 4.05.  The time to buy low has probably come and gone.
  • Eric Young Jr. continues to enjoy his time as a Met, going 2-5 with 2 R yesterday.  He entered the day hitting .304 since joining the team and now has 10 RBI, 17 R and 8 SB.  He’s providing the spark at the top of the order that the Mets have been lacking since Jose Reyes left via free agency.  Considering his 23.5% line drive rate, .365 BABIP (no unrealistic given his speed) and 15.5% strikeout rate with the team, there is optimism that this roll can continue.  He fits a specific need, given his lack of power, so just make sure you are getting your HR from elsewhere.
  • Chris Archer tossed an absolute gem against the Astros, with a 5 H complete game shutout.  He didn’t walk a batter and struck out 8.  He has now tossed 15.0 consecutive scoreless innings and has allowed 2 ER over his past 21.0 IP.  While those starts came against the Astros (2) and Twins, they are impressive nonetheless.  The key for him is not issuing walks (5.01 BB/9 over his minor league career), something he’s been doing lately.  If he can continue that, he’s going to excel.  Given his upside he’s worth grabbing off the waiver wire to see if he’s put it all together.
  • It was another big day for Josh Donaldson, going 2-5 with 1 HR, 3 RBI and 1 R.  He finishes the first half hitting .310 with 16 HR and 61 RBI.  Considering his 22.1% line drive rate (22.5% in ’12), .338 BABIP, 16.6% strikeout rate and 15.5% HR/FB (11.3% in ’12) entering the day, there’s no reason to think that he can’t continue to producing.  Hitting in the middle of the order, there’s a lot to like.
  • How long can the Angels run Joe Blanton out there?  He allowed 4 ER on 5 H and 4 BB, striking out 2, over 4.0 IP.  He’s now 2-12 with a 5.53 ERA.  Sure he entered with a .346 BABIP (21.9% strand rate), but at this point can we really blame that?  He should be nowhere near fantasy lineups.
  • Yasiel Puig didn’t start the game, but he entered as a pinch hitter and went 1-3 with 1 R.  Clearly the hip injury that had him on the sidelines isn’t a major concern.
  • It was another strong start for Eric Stults, allowing 1 ER on 5 H and 2 BB, striking out 5, over 6.0 IP against the Giants.  He finishes the first half with a 3.40 ERA and 1.14 WHIP.  He entered the day with a 5.50 K/9, which obviously limits his fantasy appeal.  He also had a 1.86 BB/9 (2.84 for his career), something he may not be able to maintain.  Use him while he’s pitching well, but be prepared to move on quickly.
  • Wily Peralta appears to have finally figured it out.  He allowed 1 ER on 7 H and 2 BB, striking out 8, over 7.0 IP to defeat the Diamondbacks.  He’s allowed 1 ER over his past 21.1 innings of work, going 2-0 with 19 K and 8 BB over that span.  He has strikeout potential and entered the day with a 62.2% strand rate and 52.8% groundball rate.  There was optimism heading into the season and he’s now reminding us why.  If you are looking for a sleeper off the waiver wire, he’s a gamble worth taking.
  • The Cardinals had a players provide big days, but the biggest was Yadier Molina.  He finished going 4-6 with 1 HR, 4 RBI and 3 R, ending the first half at .341 with 7 HR and 49 RBI.  While the average may fall, he’s clearly established himself as the premier hitting catcher in the league.

Bullpen Notes:

  • Steve Cishek entered into a tie game and quickly got blown up, allowing 3 ER on 3 H and 0 BB, striking out 1, over 1.1 IP.  It’s his fifth loss of the season, and he’s now allowed 7 H over his past 3.1 innings.  That said, he’s blown two saves and owns a 3.24 ERA and 1.08 WHIP on the season and is in no danger of losing the closer’s role at this point.
  • It was an inauspicious start to Matt Thornton’s Red Sox career, allowing 1 ER on 1 H and 2 BB over 0.2 IP and taking the loss.  Things should get better, but he holds no value in anything but the deepest of formats because he’s not going to see save opportunities.
  • Kevin Gregg’s renaissance season (can we call it a renaissance when it is a career best) has been quite the story, but it ended in poor fashion.  He got bombed by the Cardinals allowing 4 ER on 4 H over 1.0 IP, ending with 5 ER over his last 2.0 IP.  We all knew a regression was coming and it wouldn’t be surprising if the Cubs deal hi quickly (before the rest of the baseball world catches on).

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