by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
There were some monster offensive performances last night, most notably from Joe Mauer and Alfonso Soriano. We saw numerous closers stumble, making us wonder if the closer carousel is going to be in motion. Throw in pitchers like Tim Lincecum, Jarred Cosart, Brandon Beachy and others taking the hill, and there is plenty that needs to be discussed. Let’s get to it:
- Talk about a big day at the plate, Joe Mauer went 5-7 with 1 HR, 4 RBI and 2 R. We all know that he’s a great source of average, but he has also added 10 HR this season. Obviously he’s not going to approach his 28 HR campaign from 2009, but he has a chance to post his second best HR campaign (currently 13 back in 2006). He entered the day with a 10.6% HR/FB, not an unreasonable number but also higher than his career norm. The moral of the story? Value him for his average and the advantage he gives you in R compared to other catchers, but consider any power a bonus.
- Rick Porcello got the W over the John Danks (7.1 IP, 4 ER, 9 H, 1 BB, 3 K to put his ERA at 4.54) and the White Sox, but it was hardly an impressive performance. Porcello allowed 3 ER on 11 H and 1 BB, striking out 4, over 6.0 IP. He now owns a 4.33 ERA and 1.30 WHIP on the season. We all know he has control (1.94 BB/9 to enter the day) and is among the elite groundball pitchers (56.6% groundball rate). He also has seen his strikeout rate rise, entering the day at 6.77 K/9. While he was hardly impressive last night and the overall results are not attractive, the makeup is actually there for a productive pitcher. In other words, don’t write him off.
- It was a mixed bag for Jacob Turner, allowing 2 R (1 earned) on 4 H over 5.0 IP. Seems solid, but he walked 6 and failed to register a strikeout. The control hasn’t been bad (he entered with a 3.28 BB/9), but he has benefited from a .269 BABIP and 78.2% strand rate. In other words, the numbers should likely regress.
- Alex Gordon has shown flashes, but it’s been an overall struggle for a little bit now. He went 0-5 yesterday and is now 0-9 over his past two games. He hit .188 in June, .226 in July and is currently at .240 in August. That’s one extended slide, and a lot of it is due to a fall in line drive rate (11.7% in July, entered with a 15.6% mark in August). You have to think that he’ll turn it around, eventually, but it’s certainly getting ugly.
- Is Todd Frazier starting to finally warm up? He went 2-4 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 2 R yesterday and now has hits in back-to-back games. Obviously it’s not much, but when you are hitting .233 you have to take baby steps.
- Michael Cuddyer returned to the starting lineup for the Rockies, going 0-3. Obviously get him back active in all formats.
- It was a big day for Corey Dickerson, going 3-4 with 2 RBI and 2 R. He was an extra base machine, with a pair of doubles and a triple. He’s now 7-10 with 4 doubles and 2 triples over the past three days, with 3 RBI and 5 R. Obviously he can’t quite keep up that type of pace, though he did have 21 doubles, 14 triples and 11 home runs in 315 AB in the PCL prior to joining the Rockies and had 69 extra base hits back in 2012. In other words, there’s actually a lot to like for those in five-outfielder formats as long as he’s receiving regular playing time. That may not continue when Carlos Gonzalez returns from the DL, however, so take advantage while you can.
- Is there anyone hotter than Alfonso Soriano at the moment? He had a monster game last night, going 3-3 with 2 HR, 7 RBI and 3 R. Over the past two days he’s gone 6-9 with 4 HR, 13 RBI and 6 R. That’s an impressive month for most players!
- To say Jered Weaver took a beating would be a bit of an understatement. He finished allowing 9 ER on 9 H and 3 BB, striking out 4, over 5.0 IP. It happens and there’s no reason to read anything into the poor outing. Weaver is a solid fantasy option, though his strikeout rate (7.14 K/9 in ’13) keeps him from the elite level.
- Tim Lincecum had been pitching fairly well, though he got touched up for 6 ER on 7 H and 2 BB, striking out 3, over 6.0 IP against the Nationals. It just serves as a reminder that, despite what he’s been doing, Lincecum just isn’t the same pitcher that he once was. Is he a viable option at this point? He is, but he may not be a must own one, depending on the matchup.
- Will Middlebrooks went 1-3 and now has hits in all four games since returning to the Majors (6-15) to go along with 2 RBI and 3 R. It’s not much, but at least it gives owners some sort of hope. That said, I still wouldn’t be expecting miracles.
- Brandon Beachy had his second straight strong start, allowing 2 ER on 6 H and 0 BB, striking out 4, over 6.0 IP. He’s now allowed 2 ER over his past 14.0 IP and owns a 1.08 WHIP over his four starts since returning from the DL. He may not maintain the latter (.261 BABIP, 1.50 BB/9), but he’s proving that he’s a viable option.
- In going 2-5 with 1 HR, 1 RBI and 2 R Jason Heyward posted his fourth straight multi-hit game (and sixth in his past seven). In August he’s done a great job of making contact (7 K over 47 AB) and is hitting .404. He’s turned that into 2 HR, 7 RBI and 13 R, though it shouldn’t be a surprise that he’s on fire at this point. As it is, despite a 22.6% line drive rate, his BABIP still sits at just .286. There’s a good chance the he remains hot moving forward.
- In his first start since taking a line drive off his elbow Shelby Miller allowed 5 R (3 earned) on 8 H and 2 BB, striking out 5, over 6.0 innings against the Pirates. It wasn’t an impressive outing, but at least he proved healthy (he threw 112 pitches). Owners should feel comfortable returning him to their starting lineups.
- After getting torched for 10 ER in his last outing, Francisco Liriano came back to throw a complete game against the Cardinals allowing 1 ER on 4 H and 1 BB, striking out 6. It was impressive, but as we’ve said before he owns a 22.4% line drive rate and .285 BABIP, as well as a 79.2% strand rate and the chance that his control goes south (3.55 BB/9). There’s a good chance of a regression.
- Juan Francisco went 2-4 with 2 HR, 4 RBI and 2 R. Is he the answer at 1B for the Brewers, however? He does have 17 HR this season and he’s now hitting .393 in 28 AB in August. However, he struggles against lefties (.172 with 0 HR in 29 AB this season) and has 104 K in 279 AB this season. In other words, it’s hard to depend on him. Sure he offers some power, but that’s about it.
- Both Jarrod Parker (8.1 IP, 1 ER, 8 H, 1 BB, 6 K) and Jarred Cosart (6.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 H, 1 BB, 4 K) pitched well, though neither factored in the decision. In six starts Cosart owns a 1.15 ERA and 1.18 WHIP, but he’s failed to generate Ks (4.15 K/9), struggled with his control (4.15 BB/9) and benefited from luck (.239 BABIP, 87.0% strand rate). There is significant potential and he does have more strikeout stuff then he’s shown, but control has always been a question, wins will be tough to come by and the luck is going to regress. In other words, for the remainder of 2013 you shouldn’t be depending on him.
- Hanley Ramirez finally returned to the Dodgers lineup, going 2-5 with 1 R out of the cleanup spot. Get him back active in all formats.
- Chris Perez was charge with a blown save, allowing 1 R on 2 H and 0 BB, striking out 2, over 2.0 IP. However he ultimately was credited with a W and Joe Smith pitched a perfect inning to earn his second save of the season. Blown saves happen and there is no reason to think Perez’ job is in any type of jeopardy.
- Inexplicably Jim Johnson blew yet another save, his ninth of the season, allowing 1 ER on 2 H and 1 BB, striking out 1, over his inning of work. He’s now blown three consecutive saves, allowing 7 H and 2 BB over the 3.0 innings of work. It’s impossible to imagine the Orioles giving him the next opportunity at this point, meaning Francisco Rodriguez is a must own in all formats.
- Daniel Farquhar imploded, allowing 2 ER on 4 H and 1 BB, blowing his first save since being installed into the closers role. It was obviously a hideous outing, but it’s the first runs he’s allowed since July 19. He should’ve owned himself a little bit of rope, so look for him to continue closing despite the blowup.
- It was Josh Fields getting the save opportunity for the Astros, likely because Jia-Chen Lo had worked back-to-back days. Fields allowed 1 H with 2 K to lock down his second save. He appears to be the second in line in Houston, so if you are desperate for saves he’s worth stashing at this point.
- Latroy Hawkins blew the save for the Mets, allowing 2 ER on 3 H over his inning of work. Does anyone really want to depend on him? He should continue to see opportunities with Bobby Parnell on the DL, at least for now, though he’s hardly trustworthy. One more stumble and the Mets could turn to one of their younger bullpen options.