7 Stories From 05/19/14 Box Scores: Closer Questions In Cleveland & Chicago, Keuchel Shines & More

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

It was a short slate of games, but that didn’t mean that there weren’t plenty of stories to discuss.  From Dallas Keuchel’s continued success, bullpen questions in Cleveland and Chicago, Victor Martinez’ power surge and so much more, let’s take a look at everything fantasy owners need to know from yesterday’s games:

 

1) Cody Allen gets a save chance…  And promptly fails…
There’s been a lot of debate regarding Allen and if he would get an opportunity to close given the struggles of John Axford.  It had appeared like Bryan Shaw was going to slide into the closers role, getting the first save opportunity post Axford, but he came in for the eighth yesterday with Allen getting the ninth.  Unfortunately for Allen he allowed 1 ER on 2 H (one of which was a home run to J.D. Martinez) and 0 BB, striking out 1, over his inning of work to blow the save.  Allen now has back-to-back poor outings (he failed to get an out on Sunday, ultimately being charged with 3 ER on 2 H and 2 BB).  While we can’t rule out Allen getting another shot, at this point all bets would be on Shaw getting the next save chance.

 

2) Devin Mesoraco hits cleanup…
After hitting fifth on Sunday, with Todd Frazier in the cleanup spot, the two flip-flopped on Monday against Stephen Strasburg.  While Frazier had a big day (3-6, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 R), the same couldn’t be said for Mesoraco.  Over the course of the 15 inning affair with the Nationals, Mesoraco went 0-6 with 1 BB.  Obviously hitting in the middle of the lineup is going to help his production potential, and it’s hard to imagine him going anywhere given the injuries the club has endured.  He has been fantastic, when healthy, but we all have to know that a regression is going to come.  He owns a 32.7% line drive rate, .511 BABIP and 25.0% HR/FB.  That’s not to say that he’s not a viable option, just don’t be surprised to see him have more days like this.

 

3) Is Jason Heyward finally waking up…
He had a big day at the plate yesterday, going 3-4 with 2 R and 2 SB, extending his hitting streak to five games (8-21 with 0 HR, 0 RBI, 4 R and 2 SB).  It’s nice to see him getting the opportunity to run once again (8 SB), but he continues to fail to deliver the power production with 3 HR courtesy of a 6.0% HR/FB and is struggling to score runs atop the Braves lineup (just 18 R).  You would think it wouldn’t be a problem, but he’s hitting just .228 courtesy of a .274 BABIP (after posting a .281 mark a year ago).  We all know the talent level, but as we’ve said before these struggles have been going on far longer than just this season.  It’s starting to become highly concerning at this point, but all owners can do is stick with him and hope he can finally get things back on track.

 

4) Matt Lindstrom pulled due to injury…
According to Jackson Alexander of mlb.com (click here for the article http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article/cws/white-sox-closer-matt-lindstrom-limps-off-with-lower-leg-injury?ymd=20140520&content_id=76088108&vkey=news_cws), “Matt Lindstrom left Chicago’s 7-6 win over the Royals on Monday after he sustained an injury to what appeared to be his left ankle area in the ninth inning.”  While Scott Downs and Jake Petricka came in to get the final three outs, with Petricka earning the save, Ronald Belisario would be the favorite to grab save chances if Lindstrom is forced to miss time.  If you are in need of saves, don’t hesitate to scoop him up.

 

5) Dallas Keuchel continues to roll and has become a must use option…
He carried a shutout into the ninth inning, but ultimately was charged with 2 ER on 5 H and 1 BB, striking out 8, over 8.2 IP against the Angels to improve to 5-2 with a 2.92 ERA and 1.05 WHIP.  You would think that the numbers may not be maintainable, but that’s hardly the case.  As we have been saying for over a week now, his newfound slider has helped him to generate strikeouts (8.03 K/9), while he is showing tremendous control (1.75 BB/9) and elite groundball stuff (67.7% in ’14, 56.8% for his career).  You put those three numbers together and there is no wonder why he’s thrived.  With a .290 BABIP and 76.6% strand rate, there’s also nothing unbelievable in the luck.  Sure, his line drive rate could regress (12.6%), but there’s no reason to think that he’s not going to remain a must use option.  Keuchel has reinvented himself with the slider and at this point is a must use option regardless of the matchup.

 

6) It was not a good day for Garrett Richards…
He went 7.0 innings against the Astros allowing 5 ER on 10 H and 2 BB, striking out 1, to be saddled with his first loss of the season.  It was a major surprise to see him lack strikeouts, considering the opponent and his 8.39 K/9 (based on a 10.2% SwStr%).  While it was a small step backwards, there’s no reason to be concerned at this point.

 

7) Victor Martinez continues to hit home runs…
Where did this power surge come from?!  He went 1-4 with 1 HR, 1 RBI and 1 R, putting him at .329 with 11 HR and 26 RBI on the season.  He hit just 14 all of last season and had 12 in 2011 (remember, he missed all of 2012 due to injury).  It’s hard to imagine him maintaining this pace (19.35 HR/FB vs. a career mark of 10.3%), but let’s not forget that he was once a consistent 20+ HR threat so he certainly could continue to thrive.  He also should start striking out a little bit more (5.3%), but that’s not the biggest concern either.  The biggest negative against him entering the season was being eligible at only U, but depending on your league format he’s already earned 1B eligibility (9 games played).  Even with a regression, he should remain a good option moving forward.

 

Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs, CBS Sports, MLB.com

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