10 Stories From 04/24/14 Box Scores: Could Things Get Worse For Starling Marte & More

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

Compared to the past few days, Thursday was a “quiet” day at the ballpark.  No ejections for foreign substances…  No major DL returns…  However, that makes it that much more important for fantasy owners to pay attention and see what’s going on.  Let’s take a look:

 

1) Corey Kluber posts dominating outing…
It was against a struggling Royals’ lineup, but Kluber showed just how good he could be in the complete game victory.  He allowed just an unearned run on 4 H and 0 BB, striking out 11, while also generating 12 groundballs.  He entered the day with a 5.40 ERA and 1.71 WHIP, but it was generally poor luck (.390 BABIP, 67.2% strand rate) that had plagued him.  Maybe the strikeouts and groundballs were a bit excessive, but there was no question that he was better than his numbers entering the day.  He should be viewed as a viable option to fill out your rotation (our preseason projection had him with a 3.70 ERA and 1.29 WHIP).

 

2) Starling Marte continues to struggle, and amazingly things could actually get worse…
He was facing Tony Cingrani (6.0 IP, 1 ER, 6 H, 2 BB, 7 K, W), but that’s obviously not justification for an 0-4 day with 2 K.  He’s now hitting .245 and the strikeouts are piling up as he entered the day with a 31.7% strikeout rate.  That was a major concern entering the season, considering his 29.7% mark in the second half last season (24.4% overall).  While we want to consider this season’s mark a small sample size, when coupled with the 142 AB last season it simply isn’t.  He actually entered the day with a beneficial .383 BABIP, meaning things could actually get worse.  It’s great that he has power and speed, but he needs to make contact to utilize them.  While he’s not necessarily a sell candidate, he’s also not a recommended buy right now.

 

3) Gordon Beckham makes his season debut…
He went 0-4 with 3 K, though it’s not his return that is really fantasy relevant.  The question is what happens to Marcus Semien at this point?  He slid over to 3B yesterday, with Connor Gillaspie out of the lineup, but once he’s healthy and playing Semien could find himself in a utility role.  Considering the other options it may not last very long, but time will tell.  He went 1-4 and is hitting just .235 on the season, though he does have 3 HR, 13 RBI, 13 R and 2 SB.  He entered the day with a 28.0% strikeout rate, a number he needs to improve upon if he wants to have continued success.

 

4) Will Sam Fuld become relevant to those in deeper formats…
He went 3-5 with 2 RBI and 1 R yesterday, putting him at 5-10 with 3 RBI and 1 R in two games since arriving in Minnesota.  It remains to be seen if he will find regular AB once everyone is healthy, but it’s certainly not like Aaron Hicks has been impressive this season.  Speaking of Hicks, do you think the arrival of Fuld has caught his attention?  Hicks went 1-3 with 1 HR, 3 RBI and 2 R, while also drawing a pair of walks.  He has the far higher upside, but is still hitting just .182 on the season courtesy of a 25.3% strikeout rate and 13.6% line drive rate entering the day.  He does have 10/30 potential, however, and maybe this will provide the spark he needs.  Continue monitoring him.

 

5) Can Danny Espinosa maintain his bounce back campaign…
Espinosa went 3-5 with 1 HR, 1 RBI and 1 R and is now hitting .317 with 2 HR, 4 RBI, 7 R and 2 SB in 63 AB.  Always a potential source of power and speed, things had gotten so bad in 2013 that he spent a significant amount of time at Triple-A.  While there is a bit of luck involved in the average (.381 BABIP), there also is plenty of positives.  He entered the day with a 23.4% strikeout rate, a significant improvement over his career mark (26.9%, 28.7% & 28.1% the previous two seasons).  If he can maintain that type of number, along with his other talents, he is going to be well worth owning.  Will he overtake Anthony Rendon (0-5 with 1 RBI, .275 average) once Ryan Zimmerman returns?  It’s possible.  Don’t assume Espinosa is a set him and forget him type option, but also don’t shy away from him.

 

6) Drew Hutchison pitches well again…
When you look at the box score quickly and see that the Orioles scored 11 runs on 14 hits, you would think that the starting pitcher got pounded.  However, Hutchison actually allowed just 2 ER on 6 H and 1 BB, striking out 9, over 6.0 IP.  He now has 9 K in back-to-back outings and has allowed 4 ER over his past 17.1 innings.  In fact, he had just one poor outing against the Yankees (6 ER over 3.1 innings), but otherwise has pitched extremely well.  He entered the day with a .365 BABIP, which has been his biggest issue.  Obviously pitching in the AL East is going to make him a risk, but as we’ve been saying since Spring Training he is an option well worth owning.

 

7) CC Sabathia/Felix Doubront head in different directions…
Sabathia posted his second consecutive strong outing, allowing 2 ER on 3 H and 3 BB, striking out 8, over 6.0 IP to improve to 3-2 on the season.  Obviously the risks remain, but the fact that he is proving that he can get the job done with the stuff he currently has is promising.  We aren’t prepared to call him a lock to produce, however, so proceed with caution.

As for Doubront, as opposed to take the next step forward he instead once again showed his inconsistent ways.  He lasted just 2.2 innings allowing 7 R (3 earned) on 6 H and 2 BB, striking out 1.  Despite showing flashes of viability, until he proves he can put it together he’s impossible to trust.

 

8) Josh Donaldson continues to prove his doubters wrong…
Few people thought that Donaldson could replicate his 2013 success, but through the first month he has proven that it was hardly an aberration.  He went 3-4 with 2 HR, 4 RBI and 3 R yesterday, putting him at .289 with 6 HR and 18 RBI on the season.   He entered the day with a 12.1% HR/FB and 45.2% fly ball rate, the latter of which was elevated from 2013 (35.6%).  It’s something to monitor, in case he has gotten infatuated with the home run, but thus far it obviously hasn’t caused an issue.  There’s no reason to consider him anything but one of the best 3B in the league.

 

9) Cody Asche continues to struggle, but is his job in jeopardy…
He batted eighth yesterday, going 1-5 with 1 R.  That drops his average to .192 with just 1 HR and 3 RBI.  Lucky for Asche is that Maikel Franco, who proved to be one of the elite slugging prospects in the game in 2013, is struggling to adjust at Triple-A hitting just .184 with 1 HR and 5 RBI over 76 AB.  However, Franco may finally be turning things around (5-9 with 1 HR, 1 RBI and 2 R) and could quickly force the Phillies hand (assuming he can handle the spot defensively).  Don’t be surprised if a change comes at some point, especially if Franco starts hitting.

 

10) Bullpen Notes…

  • Daisuke Matsuzaka picks up a save for the Mets – With Kyle Farnsworth unavailable it was Matsuzaka who got the call, pitching a perfect inning en route to the save.  He’s actually pitched well in a relief role (1.69 ERA) and there had been rumblings that he could be in the mix if a change was needed.  We keep thinking the Mets will turn to a youngster, but instead they keep finding veterans to plug in.  If you are desperate, why not.
  • Don’t look for Veras-time in Chicago – If there was a chance for Jose Veras to get back into the closer’s role, he certainly isn’t helping his cause.  He allowed 2 ER on 2 H and 1 BB in his inning yesterday, the third straight outing where he has allowed multiple runs (7 ER over 3.0 IP).  If you were holding onto him hoping, move on.

 

Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs, Minor League Baseball

3 comments

  1. Adam says:

    In a 16-team H2H league, is Danny Espinosa a decent replacement for Gyroko until Gyorko gets things figured out? Would dropping Norichika Aoki for him be too much? I only have 3 OF spots and Aoki is behind CarGo, Holliday, Hamilton, Springer, and Morse.

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      I’d obviously prefer to trade Aoki, especially in a 16-team league. The answer is that Espinosa is a viable replacement, though.

  2. Paul says:

    Hey Prof,

    Who do you like the most going forward out of this group:

    Niese, Dickey, Hutchinson, McAllister, M. Harrison

    Thanks,

    Paul

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