Around the Majors: August 12, 2013: Pitching Reigns Supreme (Darvish Ks 15, Albers Impressive, Hamels Streaking) & More

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

Pitching…  Pitching…  Pitching…  That was the story of the day yesterday, whether it was Yu Darvish, Cole Hamels, Mat Latos or a host of others.  Let’s take a look at all of the strong performances, as well as all the rest from yesterday’s games:

  • After failing to complete 5.0 innings in his previous three starts, Dan Straily went 7.1 innings allowing just 1 ER on 6 H and 3 BB, striking out 5.  While he didn’t factor in the decision, it was still a very encouraging outing.  That said, he entered the day with a 22.9% line drive rate (with only one month under 20%) yet just a .273 BABIP. In other words, while there is upside, there’s a lot of risk involved in using him down the stretch.
  • Yu Darvish carried a no hitter into the eighth inning against the Astros, but Carlos Corporan (1-3, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R) foiled his bid.  He ended up going 8.0 innings allowing 1 ER on 1 H and 1 BB, striking out 15, over 8.0 IP.  Darvish now has 11+ K in three of his past four starts and has 10+ K in nine starts this season.  Is there any question who the elite strikeout artist in the Majors currently is?
  • While Hiroki Kuroda was spectacular (8.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 H, 1 BB, 7 K), the bigger story from a fantasy perspective was the performance of Garrett Richards.  Richards allowed 2 ER on 7 H and 1 BB, striking out 3, over 8.0 IP and now earns a 4.04 ERA and 1.23 WHIP on the season.  As a starter (8 starts) he has maintained control (2.25 BB/9) and groundball stuff (55.3%).  Of course we’d like to see more strikeouts (5.88), but the other numbers at least make him an intriguing streaming option in all formats with the potential to be a good play on a weekly basis.
  • Cody Asche continued his hot stretch, going 2-4 with 1 HR, 3 RBI, 2 R and 1 SB.  As we said when he was recalled he has .270/20/10 potential, so he is an intriguing option in all formats.  The Phillies have only given him 1 AB against a lefty thus far, however, so keep that in mind.  Eventually he should get an opportunity there, as the Phillies need to find out if he can become their everyday option for 2014.  At Triple-A this season he was hitting .261 with 2 HR in 115 AB against LHP, so there is a bit of hope.
  • Cole Hamels stymied the Braves, allowing 1 ER on 6 H and 1 BB, striking out 9, in a complete game victory.  He’s now allowed 2 ER or less in his last four starts, allowing 5 ER over 31.0 IP, dropping his ERA to 3.65.  Wins have still been hard to come by, but hopefully fantasy owners didn’t panic and give up on him.
  • It was a nice pitcher’s duel between Mat Latos (8.0 IP, 0 ER, 6 H, 0 BB, 9 K) and Travis Wood (8.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 H, 1 BB, 5 K).  Wood made one mistake, a home run to Brandon Phillips (1-3, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 R), which cost him the game.  Wood’s overall numbers are impressive, with a 3.00 ERA and 1.10 WHIP, but he’s benefitted from a .240 BABIP (despite a 21.4% line drive rate) and lacks strikeout upside (6.41 K/9 in ’13, 6.78 for his career).  In other words, while he’s looked good this season, there is good reason to anticipate a regression.
  • Ryan Ludwick made his long awaited return, hitting sixth and going 0-3.  If you are looking for power, he’s worth grabbing in deeper formats.
  • Miguel Cabrera went 2-4 with 1 HR, 1 RBI and 1 R, giving him HR in four straight games and five of his past six.  He now has a league leading .366 average (Mike Trout is second at .330) and 111 RBI (one ahead of Chris Davis).  Davis has the lead in HR, with 43 vs. Cabrera’s 37, but don’t write off the potential for a second straight Triple Crown.
  • Chris Sale actually got run support and improved to 8-11 after allowing 2 ER on 9 H and 0 BB, striking out 6, in a complete game effort.  With a 2.73 ERA, he’s a perfect example of why wins are tough to predict.
  • It was a nice day for Alcides Escobar, going 2-4 with 1 RBI, 1 R and 1 SB.  He now owns a nine-game hitting streak going 15-34 with 6 RBI, 6 R and 2 SB.  While he hasn’t been stealing as much as fantasy owners would like, it’s certainly hard to ignore the impressive stretch.  He’s struggled with a .272 BABIP (despite a 23.3% line drive rate) and continues to make good contact (12.1% strikeout rate).  In other words, the skills are similar to last season when he hit .293 with 35 SB.  As the average climbs the SB should come with it.  If someone in your league gave up on him, don’t hesitate to scoop him up.
  • After falling just short of a complete game in his first outing, Andrew Albers completed the feat in his second.  He tossed 9.0 shutout innings against the Indians allowing just 2 H and 0 BB, striking out 2.  Of course we’d like to see more Ks and he also allowed a lot of fly balls (16 vs. just 9 groundouts).  He has good control (32 BB over 132.1 IP at Triple-A), but the strikeout numbers are limited (116 K at Triple-A).  There’s low-end upside, but these types of numbers won’t continue if he can’t increase the Ks (4 K over 17.1 IP).  Don’t consider him a high-end option.
  • Danny Salazar had his worst outing for the Indians, allowing 3 ER on 3 H and 3 BB, striking out 5, over 4.0 IP against the Twins.  He got burned by 2 HR (Brian Dozier and Trevor Plouffe) and has allowed 4 HR in his past two starts.
  • Whenever you have 14 R and17 H, there are going to be several offensive heroes.  Included in the top performers were Dexter Fowler (3-4, 4 RBI, 2 R), Wilin Rosario (2-5, 3 RBI, 1 R) and D.J. LeMahieu (3-4, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 3 R, 1 SB).
  • Edinson Volquez was the pitcher who got torched, allowing 8 ER on 9 H and 3 BB, striking out 2, over 4.1 IP.  He owns a 1.62 WHIP and 5.80 ERA, despite pitching half his games at Petco Park.  There’s just no reason to trust him.
  • With Eric Chavez and Cody Ross both on the DL, it is Aaron Hill who was moved to the cleanup spot.  He went 2-4 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 1 R and should get plenty of opportunities to drive in runs behind Paul Goldschmidt.  His stock just went up a few notches if he can stick in the lineup spot.
  • Jenrry Mejia continues to pitch well for the Mets, allowing 3 R (2 earned) on 6 H and 0 BB, striking out 4, over 6.0 IP against the Dodgers.  Of course, does anyone think he can maintain his current 1.11 BB/9 over four starts this season? That said he’s showing strikeouts (8.14 K/9) and groundballs (57.5%) and, as long as he keeps the control reasonably strong, he’s going to be a viable option.

Bullpen Notes:

  • Casey Janssen entered in a non-save situation and took a beating at the hands of the A’s, allowing 4 ER on 4 H and 1 BB over just 0.2 innings.  He’s now allowed 5 ER on 7 H and 1 BB over his past two outings, but it’s obviously not enough to consider his job in jeopardy.  Watch him closely, but even with the recent struggles he still has a 3.32 ERA and 1.00 WHIP (with just 2 blown saves).
  • The Yankees opted not to use Mariano Rivera after he blew three consecutive saves over five days (throwing 81 pitches).  Boone Logan (1 ER on 1 H and 1 K over 0.1 IP) started the inning, before turning it over to David Robertson (0 ER on 1 H and 2 BB, striking out 2, over 0.2 IP).  Robertson is the future at the spot, but Rivera continues to be the present.
  • Brad Ziegler took his first blown save since stepping into the Diamondbacks’ closer’s role, allowing 1 ER on 2 H and 1 BB over his inning of work.  It was bound to happen, wasn’t it?  While he’s no lock to hold the job the rest of the season, he’s not in jeopardy based on this outing.
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