10 Important Stories From 04/09/14 Box Scores: Is Garrett Richards For Real, Closers On The Hot Seat & More

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

Yesterday was a crazy day around the league, highlighted by the collapse of several closers.  How about the performance of pitchers like Garrett Richards, Jake Odorizzi and Jesse Chavez?  Which hitters should we be taking notice of?  Let’s look at the important stories from yesterday’s games:

1) Bullpen issues prevail…

  • The A’s could be ready to demote Jim Johnson… – And do you blame them?  He once again coughed up a lead, allowing 2 ER on 2 H and 2 BB over 0.2 IP and is now the owner of an 18.90 ERA and 4.50 WHIP.  The most telling sign is that the A’s pulled him before the inning was over and still with the lead (Dan Otero came in and allowed a game-tying sacrifice fly).  The concern surrounding Johnson was the potential loss of save opportunities leaving Baltimore, not his ability, so his sudden implosion is a bit puzzling.  Chances are he returns to the closer’s role before long, but Luke Gregerson and/or Sean Doolittle could easily be shifted into the role for the time being.
  • Who’s up next in New York… – It was Shawn Kelley who got the next save opportunity for the Yankees, but he ultimately coughed up the strong outing from Masahiro Tanaka (7.0 IP, 3 ER, 7 H, 1 BB, 10 K, but wasn’t inline for the W).  Kelley was only going to be a short-term option closing games anyways, but you would think that he’s not going to get the next chance.  Who will it be?  Matt Thornton, perhaps, as the bullpen has ample left-handed options?  Time will tell, but this situation is deteriorating quickly.
  • Pedro Strop has another ugly outing… – It was a non-save situation, but he coughed up a pair of solo home runs, with 2 K, in his inning of work.  He now owns a 5.79 ERA and, even if the Cubs did decide to pull Jose Veras, it’s no guarantee that Strop is the one tapped to replace him.
  • When do we push the panic button on Joe Nathan… – He got pummeled by the Dodgers in what should’ve been an easy save.  Entering with a 3 R lead, Nathan allowed 3 ER on 3 H and 2 BB, striking out 1, in his inning.  Ultimately he was credited with a W, but that’s of little consequence.  He has now allowed runs in three straight outings and owns a 12.27 ERA and 2.73 WHIP on the season.  Is his age showing or is this just a rough patch?  Given his contract/history the Tigers are going to give him some rope.  It’s still too early to tell, but keep your fingers crossed he can right the ship quickly.
  • Kenley Jansen struggles again… – He allowed 1 ER on 3 H with 1 K over 0.2 IP and has now allowed runs in back-to-back outings (and owns a 2.29 WHIP).  That said, is anyone really concerned here?

 

2) Jesse Chavez emerging as a must use option…
We profiled him prior to the starts of the season (click here to view) and he continues to pitch like someone who should be on our radars.  Taking on the Twins yesterday he allowed 1 ER on 6 H and 0 BB, striking out 9, over 7.0 IP in a no decision.  He made one mistake, a home run to Jason Kubel.  He’s taken on the Mariners and Twins thus far, but things get a lot more difficult next time out when he’s scheduled to take on the Los Angeles Angels.  That’ll be the real telling performance, but thus far it’s hard to argue with 13 K vs. 2 BB, as well as 18 groundballs vs. 11 fly balls.

 

3) Alex Gordon leads the charge against Jake Odorizzi…
Coming off a solid opening start against the Rangers, Odorizzi got rocked by the Royals to the tune of 7 ER on 10 H and 1 BB, striking out 4, over 5.0 IP.  Gordon had the biggest blow, going 2-4 with 1 HR, 4 RBI and 1 R.  It’s his first HR of the season, but he does have 9 RBI hitting down in the order.  As for Odorizzi, he actually was hit hard in his first start despite impressive results (43.8% line drive rate) and entered the year with the potential to be homer prone.  While he’s worth owning in deeper formats, expectations should be tempered.

 

4) Marcus Semien extended his hitting streak to 7 games…
He went 1-4 with 1 R and 1 SB and has just 1 hit in 6 of the 7 games, he still has the streak and showed his speed to boot.  He has a stolen base in back-to-back games and has been hitting in the second spot of the order (helping him to 6 R, as well as 1 HR and 4 RBI).  He had 19 HR and 24 SB in the minors last season (after having 14 HR and 11 SB in ’12).  In other words, the power/speed should be considered highly intriguing, the only question is if he is going to remain in the lineup every day.  At the same time, how can he not?  Is Gordon Beckham really a better option when healthy?  Is Conor Gillaspie?  At this point he’s well worth owning in all deeper formats.

 

5) Pitching reigns supreme in Padres/Indians double-header…
The two teams combined for 5 total runs in the two games, courtesy of same impressive performances:

  • Robbie Erlin (6.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 H, 0 BB, 6 K, W) – He’s more of a control artist than anything, as his strikeouts fell as he rose to the Majors.  Considering the depth of options that the Padres have, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him return to the minors at some point.
  • Trevor Bauer (6.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 H, 2 BB, 8 K) – He was up as the 26th man for the double-header, but his performance is incredibly important.  He’s consistently struggled to find the strike zone in the Majors, but he was highly impressive while throwing 65 of 99 pitches for strikes.  He will be back in the Majors at some point and certainly has the upside that makes him well worth stashing in the deepest of formats.
  • Eric Stults (5.2 IP, 1 ER, 5 H, 2 BB, 1 K) – Solid performance, but there’s simply not enough strikeout potential to consider.
  • Zach McAllister (7.2 IP, 0 ER, 5 H, 0 BB, 7 K, W) – There’s potential to be usable, but little else really.  Prior to the season we said this in the Rotoprofessor Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide, “McAllister has shown signs over the past few seasons, making 50 starts for the Indians and posting a 4.12 ERA, 7.30 K/9 and 3.05 BB/9.  The WHIP has never been pretty (1.36 in ’13) and there’s nothing that screams obvious improvement (.295 BABIP, 21.5% line drive rate).  He did own a 1.25 mark in the minors (though 1.33 at Triple-A), but unless he can reduce the line drive rate there’s not going to be an improvement.”

 

6) Bryce Harper dropped to seventh in the lineup, but starts waking up…
He went 2-4 with 1 HR, 3 RBI and 1 R, his first HR and RBI of the season.  We all know the talent he has, the question is where (and how quickly) he is going to be pushed up the lineup.  With Ryan Zimmerman returning (2-4, 2 R), it is an extremely deep lineup with plenty of pop (they bailed out a horrific start from Jordan Zimmermann, who allowed 5 ER on 7 H and 2 BB over 1.2 innings).  Time will tell where he fits long-term, but in the short season he’s already hit #2, 5, 6 and 7.

 

7) What do we take from Zack Wheeler’s outing…
It was a mixed bag for Wheeler, whose control was the big question entering the season.  He fell to 0-2 with a 5.73 ERA after allowing 4 ER on 8 H over 5.0 IP, but he didn’t walk a batter, struck out 6 and generated 6 groundballs.  In 11.0 innings this season he has 12 K vs. 2 BB, but he’s allowed a pair of home runs and owns a .394 BABIP (extremely small sample).  The bottom line?  There’s actually a lot of hope that he can build off these outings, with a fastball averaging 94.0 mph and a 10.0% SwStr%.  Simply put, don’t panic.

 

8) Garrett Richards silences the Mariners…
He tossed 7.0 shutout innings allowing just 1 H and 3 BB, striking out 6, to improve to 2-0 with a 0.75 ERA over his first two starts.  While his first outing came against the Astros, you can’t take anything away from this matchup.  That said, there are a few red flags as he continues to struggle with his control (8 BB) and the line is obviously luck related (.148 BABIP, 91.7% strand rate).  You also have to wonder if he can maintain the strikeout rate (13 K over 12.0 IP) given his 7.8 K/9 in the minors (though he is generating swings and misses, with a 9.8% SwStr%).  He’s bringing the heat with a 95.9 mph fastball, but he’s also throwing it 74.0% of the time bringing yet another concern.  The bottom line?  Maybe he puts it together, but you have to think that a blowup is on the horizon so proceed with caution.

 

9) Brandon Morrow shows his strikeout stuff…
Sure it was against the Astros, but he earned the W by allowing 3 ER on 5 H and 1 BB, striking out 9, over 6.0 innings of work.  While his strikeout rate had fallen in recent seasons, you have to wonder if he’s simply finally healthy once again?  He currently owns a 12.1% SwStr% and has shown a good mix of his fastball (51.7%), slider (25.3%) and change-up (13.8%), while also mixing in a curveball.  There’s no questioning the upside as long as he’s healthy.

 

10) Tim Lincecum takes another beating…
Maybe the Giants should just sit him down against the Diamondbacks, as Paul Goldschmidt (1-4, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 1 R) simply owns him.  He wasn’t the only one yesterday, though, allowing 7 ER on 7 H and 1 BB, striking out 5, over 4.0 innings of work.  There’s hope, obviously, but let’s see what he can do against another lineup.

Sources – ESPN, CBS Sports, Fangraphs, Baseball Reference

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11 comments

  1. bbboston says:

    Rotoprofessor,

    Time to bail on Eric Johnson?

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      Depending on the league size it would appear so. One more poor start and he could be ticketed for Triple-A

  2. bbboston says:

    Deep AL

  3. S says:

    No love for Billy Hamilton’s breakout day?

  4. Milo says:

    Lincecum got rocked big time…is he fantasy usable anymore..maybe a possible streamer?

  5. Rotoprofessor says:

    S – Hamilton was on the list of possibilities, but it is one game and he’s still sitting atop the lineup so I figured it didn’t change many outlooks.

    Milo – Given how Paul Goldschmidt owns him, I want to see how he does against someone besides Arizona. He has shown a little bit, despite the gaudy numbers.

  6. Matt says:

    If Nathan continues to struggle, who is his most likely replacement?

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      Would’ve said Joba, but he’s not pitching exceptionally well.

      Al Alburquerque appears to be the popular choice, but don’t be surprised if it’s actually Ian Krol…

      Bottom line, the Tigers are going to give Nathan every opportunity to straighten himself out because the alternatives aren’t pretty.

  7. Bbboston says:

    Rotoprofessor,

    Thoughts on conor gillalespe?

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      I actually liked him as a sleeper prior to the season. At the time I said:

      “Could be an ideal platoon candidate having hit well against RHP in ’13 (.261 with 12 HR in 345 AB); Needs to take a step forward in the power department which is possible (74 extra base hits in 841 AB in the minors over the past three seasons)”

      He’s not going to be a source of power, but hitting third he should be a player to own.

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