Around the Majors: August 13, 2013: Five Players Homer Twice (Including Zobrist, B. Miller), Samardzija Struggles Again & More

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

There were five players who hit 2 HR yesterday, a major story all by itself.  Throw in some notable pitching performance, like the continued struggles of Jeff Samardzija, a poor outing from Alexi Ogando and a new closer emerging in Houston, and there are ample stories to discuss.  Let’s take a look at everything fantasy owners need to know:

  • Kris Medlen allowed 1 ER on 5 H and 1 BB, striking out 5, over 7.0 IP to defeat the Phillies and even his record at 10-10.  It was a nice start, but keep in mind that he has allowed 3+ ER in seven of his past nine outings, going at least 7.0 innings just three times over that span.  While we all know how impressive Medlen was a year ago, the line drive has risen (23.3% entering the day) and the luck has come back to realistic levels (.307 BABIP, 73.0% strand rate).  In other words, his current 3.72 ERA and 1.31 WHIP are much more realistic expectations moving forward.
  • In his first start off the DL Jason Vargas hardly impressed, allowing 4 ER on 8 H and 1 BB, striking out 3, over 4.1 IP.  He’s never going to be a big strikeout artist (6.11 K/9 in ’13, 5.79 for his career).  That alone is going to make him a low-end/streaming option, at best. 
  • Alfonso Soriano went 3-6 with 2 HR, 6 RBI and 3 R, giving him 5 HR and 14 RBI in 16 games since the trade.  Of course, he’s also hitting .222 with his strikeouts increasing (32.3%) and his line drives plummeting (9.5%).  It’s a small sample, but we all know Soriano isn’t going to be a source of average.  At this stage of his career he’s a power bat and nothing more.
  • Jacoby Ellsbury went 1-6, but had 1 RBI, 2 R and 2 SB.  He’s been picking up the running of late, with 4 SB in his past 4 games.  The thing is, despite hitting atop the Red Sox order, he hasn’t been scoring many runs.  The runs scored yesterday were his first since August 6 (5 games).  In his past 10 games he’s scored 6 runs, but they were split between two games (he had 4 on August 6).  That said, is anyone really concerned?
  • The Mariners-Rays game saw each team’s leadoff hitter belt a pair of HR.  For the Mariners it was Brad Miller, who went 2-5 with 2 HR, 2 RBI and 2 R.  For the Rays it was Ben Zobrist, who went 2-5 with 2 HR, 3 RBI and 2 R.  Zobrist has been a bit of a disappointment this season, with just 9 HR even after last night’s outburst.  However, let’s not forget that last season he had 8 HR after August 15 and still has the potential to come on strong down the stretch.  With his positional flexibility there is no reason to give up on him.
  • Chris Archer left his previous outing with an injury scare and just plain struggled last night, allowing 5 ER on 9 H and 1 BB, striking out 5, over 5.0 innings against the Mariners.  While he does have ample talent, keep in mind that his success this season has come courtesy of a .238 BABIP and 80.1% strand rate.  In other words, don’t get too attached because a regression is likely.
  • It was a big day for Scooter Gennett, going 2-4 with 2 HR, 3 RBI and 2 R.  Keep in mind in 321 AB in the PCL this season he had just 3 HR and 18 total extra base hits (.371 SLG).  Last season at Double-A he had just 5 HR and a .385 SLG.  While last night’s performance was impressive, let’s not confuse him with a power threat.
  • Alexi Ogando allowed 4 ER on 6 H and 2 BB, striking out 3, over 6.1 IP.  The biggest problem was the long ball, as he gave up 3 HR.  However, that’s not the biggest issue.  In five starts since coming off the DL (25.0 IP) he’s managed just 11 K.  That’s just not going to get it done.
  • Another outing another poor performance from Jeff Samardzija, allowing 4 ER on 6 H and 4 BB, striking out 5, over 6.0 IP against the Reds.  He’s been taking a few beatings of late, with a 5.28 ERA in July and 9.39 ERA thus far in August.  The underlying numbers, overall, are not too worrisome.  He’s had some poor luck, with a .316 BABIP and 70.3% strand rate.  While he’s been struggling, don’t lose hope.
  • Avisail Garcia went 2-4 with 2 RBI and 2 R, his best game since joining the White Sox (4-17 with 2 RBI, 3 R and 1 SB).  We’ve spoken about his potential often sine his trade and he’s going to continue to get opportunities the rest of the way.  In deeper formats he is well worth owning.
  • At this point we all know how good Jose Fernandez is (7.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 H, 1 BB, 6 K), but did anyone expect Bruce Chen to nearly match him pitch-for-pitch last night?  Chen tossed 7.0 shutout innings allowing 3 H and 3 BB, striking out 6.  In his six starts this season he’s now posted a 0.93 ERA and 0.67 WHIP.  Of course, he’s also benefited from a .160 BABIP ad 100.0% strand rate.  It’s a small sample size, but no one is going to confuse Chen for an ace.  The other shoe is going to drop, sooner rather than later, so don’t get attached.
  • Zach McAllister had a nice bounce back performance, allowing 2 R (1 earned) on 4 H and 1 BB, striking out 7, over 6.0 IP.  He has shown a solid strikeout rate (6.80 K/9) and offers good control (2.29 BB/9 over his minor league career).  That alone should make him an intriguing streaming option, though he’s not someone to trust on a regular basis.
  • Making his Major League debut Andrew Lambo went 0-3 with 1 K before leaving as part of a double switch.  As we discussed yesterday, he has shown his power potential in the minors but the average could struggle and he had never shown his power prior to 2013.  Obviously he’s worth owning, but don’t expect a savior.
  • Michael Cuddyer has missed a few days due to illness, but he appeared as a pinch hitter yesterday and should be expected to return to the lineup today or tomorrow.
  • Will Venable went 3-5 with 2 RBI and 2 R.  He has 15 HR and 13 SB, making him a somewhat under-the-radar 20/20 candidate.  His .257 average isn’t impressive, but it also isn’t a killer.  He’s more of a platoon player (sitting against southpaws), which could be frustrating, but his power and speed make him well worth owning in all formats.
  • It was a big day for Paul Goldschmidt, going 3-5 with 2 HR, 2 RBI and 2 R.  He’s now hitting .297 with 29 HR, 93 RBI, 77 R and 13 SB on the season.  In other words, is there any question that he is among the elite 1B in the league?  You could easily make an argument for him in the top spot at his position, though that’s a debate for another day…  (or maybe later today).
  • Bartolo Colon got beat up again, allowing 5 ER on 7 H and 1 BB, striking out 3, over 4.0 IP.  In his last two starts he’s now allowed 10 ER over 6.2 IP.  We’ve all been waiting for him to regress, so I don’t think anyone could claim that they are completely surprised by this.
  • Hyun-Jin Ryu tossed a gem against the Mets, allowing 1 ER on 5 H and 1 BB, striking out 3, over 7.0 IP.  Keep in mind, however, that with David Wright out and now Wilmer Flores banged up, the Mets’ offensive upside is quite limited (not that it should take away from Ryu’s performance, considering he now owns a 2.91 ERA).  At this point, however, almost any starter taking on the Mets has to be considered a viable streamer.

Bullpen Notes:

  • Mark Melancon got credited with a blown save, allowing an unearned run on 1 H and 1 BB, striking out 1, over his inning of work.  Obviously it’s hard to hold that against him and, until Jason Grilli returns, there’s no reason to think Melancon is going to lose his job.
  • Jim Johnson blew his eighth save of the season, allowing 1 ER on 3 H and 0 BB, striking out 1, in his inning of work.  He’s now blown back-to-back saves and at this point you have to start to wonder if the Orioles may consider making a change?  He does have 39 saves on the season, but also has a 1.31 WHIP.  If you are searching for saves, snapping up Francisco Rodriguez would make a lot of sense.
  • The Astros turned to Chia-Jen Lo with the game on the line, and he delivered.  Going 1.1 innings he allowed 0 H and 1 BB, striking out 1, over 1.1 innings to lock down his first save of the season.  In 6.1 innings since being recalled he has a 0.00 ERA, 1.11 WHIP and 5 K.  He only threw 16.2 innings across three minor league levels, but accumulated 20 K vs. 2 BB (a year after posting a 0.90, 31 K and 6 BB over 30.0 innings of work).  He’s clearly an intriguing option and seems to have a hold on the closers role for now.

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