Around the Majors: September 25, 2013: Will Middlebrooks, Mike Zunino, Martin Perez & More

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

There are just days left to the regular season, yet it’s clears the players aren’t mailing it in.  The were four hitters who slugged 2 HR and numerous impressive pitching displays.  Let’s take a look at all the stories we need to know about from yesterday’s games:

  • After his start for the New York Mets it was surprising that they even kept him around.  However, Daisuke Matsuzaka has suddenly turned back the clock and looks like he could latch on somewhere in 2014 (you could argue that he’s pitched better than he has in the past).  He tossed 7.2 shutout innings allowing 4 H and 2 BB, striking out 6, against the Reds to earn the W.  Over his past four starts he’s allowed 4 ER over 26.1 IP.  More importantly he has 21 K vs. 9 BB, which has always been his biggest issue.  It is just four starts, but he has put his name at least back in the discussion for deeper formats.
  • Matt Adams did it again, going 2-4 with 1 HR, 1 RBI and 2 R.  He now has 8 HR and 15 RBI over 80 AB in September, showing just how much power potential he truly has.  Will he land somewhere that he can get regular playing time in 2014 (or if the Cardinals open up 1B for him)?  That’s going to be one of the bigger questions this offseason.
  • It was a strong start for Jake Arrieta, allowing 1 ER on 4 H and 2 BB, striking out 1, over 6.0 IP against the Pirates to earn the W.  While he’s been impressive since the trade, he also entered the day with a .190 BABIP during his time with the Cubs.  If he doesn’t harness his control (4.34 BB/9), he’s not going to excel.
  • Josh Hamilton went 2-4 with 2 RBI and 1 SB, extending his hitting streak to 10 games.  Over the streak he’s gone 12-42 with 1 HR, 9 RBI, 3 R and 1 SB.  At least it’s something, though it’s hardly enough to make up for his disastrous season.  Hamilton is now hitting .248 with 21 HR and 76 RBI on the season.  Will he be a bounce back candidate in 2014?  Things certainly can’t get any worse, but it’s also not a given (24.9% strikeout rate, for instance).  We’ll take an indepth look at him as the offseason progresses.
  • The Yankees season ended with a whisper, with Phil Hughes allowing 3 ER on 7 H and 1 BB, striking out 2, over 2.0 IP.  He was a bitter disappointment in 2013, finishing with a 5.19 ERA and 1.46 WHIP.  Don’t be surprised if he signs with an NL team in the offseason and comes back strong in 2014, though time will tell.
  •  It was a big day for Evan Longoria, going 3-5 with 2 HR, 4 RBI and 3 R.  He’s now hitting .266 with 31 HR and 82 RBI, staying healthy for the majority of the season.  That’s always the big question, though a spike in strikeout rate (23.2% entering the day) brings something else (but not a major issue).
  • Ryan Flaherty had a massive day at the plate, going 2-2 with 2 HR, 4 RBI and 3 R while manning 3B.  He has had a few opportunities this season, and has shown plenty of pop (10 HR over 238 AB).  He’s not likely going to get a full-time position, especially with Jonathan Schoop getting his first start at 2B (2-3, 1 RBI, 3 R), where he is the future at the position.  Schoop is definitely the player to be watching over the final few days.
  • It was another strong start for Danny Salazar, who allowed 2 ER on 6 H and 1 BB, striking out 8, over 5.1 IP.  In 52.0 IP he owns a 3.12 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and 65 K.  He’s been severely limited, averaging 82.1 pitches per start, and only once going more than 6.0 IP.  There is obvious risk (he entered the day with a 25.4% line drive rate and 82.6% strand rate), and it will also be interesting to see how he produces once the shackles are off.
  • Kyle Lohse tossed a gem, with a 2 H complete game shutout against the Braves.  He didn’t walk a batter and struck out 5.  He has a 3.35 ERA and 1.17 WHIP over 32 starts in his first season in Milwaukee.  As always he has limited strikeout upside (5.66 K/9), making him a low-end option heading into 2014.
  • It was a strong start for Martin Perez, albeit against the Houston Astros.  He allowed 3 ER on 6 H and 1 BB, striking out 8, over 7.0 IP to put himself at 10-5 with a 3.55 ERA and 1.34 WHIP.  He doesn’t have an overall strong strikeout rate (entered the day with a 5.71 K/9) and, unless he can improve there going forward, his value is going to be capped.
  • Craig Gentry went 0-3 with 2 R and 1 SB, giving him 6 SB over his past 6 games.  If you need a boost in SB, there’s few others who could be available to give you this type of value down the stretch.
  • While he had some control issues (which has been rare this season), Max Scherzer finished his season on a high note against the Twins.  He tossed 7.0 shutout innings allowing 2 H and 6 BB, striking out 10, and finishes the season at 21-3 with a 2.90 ERA, 0.97 WHIP and 240 K.  The question has always been if he can put it together for a full season and now we’ve seen it and he showed just how dominant he can be.
  • Remember when Ricky Nolasco was looking good for the Dodgers?  Unsurprisingly, we can forget it.  He allowed 6 ER on 8 H and 1 BB, striking out 7, over 5.2 IP against the Giants last night.  He’s now allowed 5+ ER in three straight starts, allowing 17 ER over 12.0 IP.  He’s always enticed us with his upside, but sooner or later we have to focus on the results.
  • Will Middlebrooks had a monster game, going 2-5 with 2 HR, 7 RBI and 2 R.  Did the arrival of Xander Bogaerts help spark him?  Maybe, maybe not.  You look at his September totals and he has 6 HR and 17 RBI, though he hadn’t homered since September 8 (and had 1 RBI over that span).  He strikes out a lot (26.4% in ’13) and, like last year, there’s no guarantee that he can maintain his HR rate.  Despite the power numbers, our outlook of him from a year ago hasn’t really changed.
  • Mike Zunino helped to pace the Mariners, going 2-4 with 2 HR, 2 RBI and 2 R.  There’s no arguing that it was a disappointing rookie season, though as we’ve said before seeing a young catcher struggle early on shouldn’t be a surprise (regardless of the upside).  We’ll take a much closer look at him in the offseason.
  • It was a stellar outing for Hisashi Iwakuma, tossing 8.0 shutout innings against the Royals allowing 4 H and 1 BB, striking out 9.  He owns a 2.66 ERA and 1.01 WHIP, showing elite control (1.72 BB/9) and good groundball stuff (48.7%).  The question is going to be if he can maintain his 81.9% strand rate (which actually matches his number from 2012), but even if there’s a slight regression he should continue to be a solid option in all formats.
  • Tommy Medica continues to show well in the Majors, going 2-4 with 1 HR, 1 RBI and 2 R, as he hits in the middle of the Padres lineup.  Is there a potential long-term spot for him at 1B?  It’s not impossible, with Yonder Alonso failing to offer the power traditionally associated with the position.  He’s definitely a player to keep an eye on heading into 2014.

Bullpen Notes:

  • Justin Masterson returned for the Indians, albeit in a relief role.  He looked good, allowing 1 H with 2 K in an inning of work but he’s not going to make an impact in that role.

Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs


  1. Ur says:

    Who’s a better candidate for a big 2014 — Middlebrooks or Lawrie?

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      I haven’t looked at Lawrie as much recently but it really depends on what you are looking for, as far as an all around performance, I would prefer Lawrie as I still believe he could go .270/15/15. Middlebrooks has a bit more power, but I’m not sure I’m buying him yet (especially not as a 25+ guy). Could he hit 20-24? Sure, but the strikeouts should limit his average.

      I’d still vote Lawrie, by a hair, but it’s not like I’m knocking down doors for him either

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