Around the Majors: August 15, 2013: Wheeler Whiffs A Dozen, Cobb’s Triumphant Return & More

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

Pitching…  Pitching…  Pitching…  The youngsters stole the show last night with Tony Cingrani, Andre Rienzi and Zack Wheeler all impressing, as well as Alex Cobb returning to the mound.  Let’s take a look at their performances and all the rest from yesterday’s games:

  • Alfonso Soriano continued raking, going 4-5 with 1 RBI and 1 R.  Over his past three games he’s now gone 10-14 with 4 HR, 14 RBI and 7 R.  You simply aren’t going to get that type of performance from anyone over three games.
  • The Angels got a big game from an unlikely source, as Chris Nelson went 2-4 with 2 HR, 5 RBI and 2 R.  Those were his first 2 HR of the season and he has just 18 RBI.   The Angels are his third team this season (he also saw time with the Rockies & Yankees), which really is all we need to know.  He has a little potential, but his best Major League season is 9 HR over 345 AB.  In other words, don’t get too excited.
  • While Phil Hughes lost, it wasn’t a completely terrible outing allowing 3 ER on 6 H and 1 BB, striking out 5, over 6.0 IP.  Of course, he did allow 1 HR and has now allowed 23 on the season.  With a 4.97 ERA and 1.38 WHIP, it’s impossible to trust him.  Sure, he could turn into a productive pitcher moving to a more favorable ballpark, but he’s allowed 10 HR on the road.  It’s hard to bank on thinking of Hughes as anything but a flier heading into 2014.
  • Andrew Lambo collected his first hit, RBI and R, going 1-2 with 1 RBI and 1 R yesterday.  However, he was lifted for a pinch hitter (Jose Tabata, who went 3-3) as it appears like the Pirates are not going to let him face southpaws quite yet.  That obviously is going to hurt his fantasy potential.
  • It was another nice day for Jon Jay, going 2-6 with 1 RBI and 1 R.  He’s hitting .396 in August with 0 HR, 10 RBI, 7 R and 1 SB.  Obviously, it would be nice if he hit for some power (5 HR) or provide some speed (4 SB).  That said, he entered the day with a 25.2% line drive rate and a .323 BABIP, so there is ample potential in the average department.  Is he a must use option?  Far from it, but he could provide a short-term fill-in if need be, especially while he’s hot.
  • Nate Freiman was another surprising offensive star, going 4-4 with 1 HR, 4 RBI and 1 R for the A’s.  However, he doesn’t play nearly enough to be a consideration.
  • Sonny Gray dominated the Astros, tossing 8.0 shutout innings allowing 4 H and 1 BB, striking out 9.  Of course, we do have to take the opponent into account.  He posted a 3.42 ERA and 1.32 WHIP at Triple-A, courtesy of an 8.97 K/9 and 2.97 BB/9.  He should be a productive option, but like any young pitcher there’s a good chance of inconsistency.  He hadn’t shown this type of strikeout stuff before (7.30 K/9 in the minors since 2011), so keep that in mind as well.
  • It was not a good outing for Ryan Vogelsong, allowing 3 ER on 6 H and 3 BB, striking out 3, over 3.2 IP.  It was just his second start back off the DL and we have to remember how much poor luck he had earlier in the season (.341 BABIP, 61.2% strand rate entering the day).  There should be better days ahead.
  • Brandon Belt continued to rake, going 1-4 with 1 HR, 1 RBI and 1 R.  He’s been moved into the third spot of the order and now has a 10 game hitting streak.  In August he’s has 5 HR, 10 RBI and 13 R.  Well, it’s about time huh?
  • In his first start for KC Emilios Bonifacio played 3B and batted seventh, going 1-4 with 1 SB.  He should continue to man the hot corner while Mike Moustakas is banged up and should then move into a utility role.  He struggled in Toronto this season, but does have speed if he finds regular playing time.
  • Prince Fielder went 1-4 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 1 R, his first home run since July 24 (and second since July 10).  It’s hard to say if his off the field issues (reports came out that he is going through a divorce) has been one of the factors in his struggles, but it’s not hard to imagine.
  • Mark Buehrle improved to 4-0 in his past five starts, allowing 1 R on 10 H and 2 BB, striking out 4, over 7.0 IP.  Of course, he hasn’t been tremendous over that span (including 8 ER over 11.1 innings over his past two starts), offers little in the strikeout department and is not an elite groundball pitcher.  Improvement or not, he’s a streaming option and nothing more.
  • It was a triumphant return for Alex Cobb, allowing 1 ER on 3 H and 2 BB, striking out 6, over 5.0 IP.  He missed two months after taking a line drive off his head and now owns a 2.94 ERA and 1.15 WHIP on the season.  He brings the trio of skills (8.32 K/9, 2.54 BB/9, 56.4% groundball drive rate) and he should continue to be a fantasy asset moving forward.
  • Wil Myers went 3-4 with 4 RBI and 2 R, putting him at .326 with 9 HR and 37 RBI over 181 AB.  While he likely won’t be able to maintain this pace (.385 BABIP), he’s clearly backing up all of the hype he received coming up through the minors.
  • In what was one of Tony Cingrani’s most impressive performance, albeit it against a less than stellar offense in Milwaukee.  He allowed 1 ER on 4 H and 1 BB, striking out 9, over 6.1 IP.  As a starting pitcher he owns a 2.60 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and 10.38 K/9 this season.  He has benefited from a .226 BABIP and 82.9% strand rate, so there’ no questioning that there’s a little bit of luck behind the numbers (20.7% line drive rate).  Throw in the risk to allow the long ball (1.14 HR/9, 44.8% fly ball rate) and the chance of a regression is high.  That said, the strikeout rate is elite and he’s a viable option in all formats.  Just proceed with your eyes open, especially if you are just looking at 2013 (and don’t need strikeouts).
  • After struggling in his last start (also against the Twins, allowing 4 ER over 5.1 IP), Andre Rienzo came back strong allowing 2 R (1 earned) on 4 H and 0 BB, striking out 2.  He has struggled to generate strikeouts in the Majors, with a 5.92 K/9 in his four starts, but he owns a minor league career mark of 9.55 (including a 9.00 in 20 Triple-A starts in ’13).  Control could be an issue, but he’s shown a good groundball rate in his small sample (51.3%) and also did so at Triple-A this season (49.2% vs. a 43.1% league average).  If he could continue to pitch with good control (3.71 BB/9 at Triple-A) he could turn into a great option.  As it is, depending on the matchup, he’s got the makeup to be a viable option.
  • Zack Wheeler may not have factored into the decision, but he was spectacular against the Padres last night allowing 1 ER on 7 H and 1 BB, striking out 12, over 6.0 IP.  His control is going to be his biggest question, though he’s now walked just 1 batter over his past 12.1 IP.  There clearly is a lot of upside, though anticipate there being a few bumps in the road along the way.

Bullpen Notes:

  • Rafael Soriano imploded, allowing 3 ER on 2 H and 1 BB, striking out 1, over his inning of work.  It’s his fifth blown save, though despite having other potential closing options Soriano is in no risk of losing his job.

Sources – Fangraphs, Minor League Central, The Baseball Cube


  1. fiji.siv says:

    Alex Cobb has a 56.4% line drive rate?!? Oh wait, that should read “ground ball rate”.

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