10 Stories From 05/26/14 Box Scores: George Springers Mashes, Starters Struggle (Tillman, Smyly) & More

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

On the day when Jeff Samarzija finally got a W (despite allowing a season high 3 ER), there was plenty of intriguing stories fantasy owners need to follow.  Let’s take a look at all the on-field performances that we should know about:

 

1) Clay Buchholz implodes once again…
While Ervin Santana was not very good in his own right (5.0 IP, 6 ER, 5 H, 3 BB, 6 K), his struggles were overshadowed by the disastrous start from Buchholz.  He lasted just 3.0 IP allowing 6 ER on 4 H and 8 BB, striking out 4, and now owns a 7.02 ERA and 1.98 WHIP on the season.  Control hasn’t been his biggest issue this season (3.06 BB/9 entering the day), as it seemed to be more just poor luck (.381 BABIP, 65.2% strand rate, 21.4% line drive rate) and an elevated home run rate (1.34 HR/9).  Whatever it is, he’s now worked less than 5.0 innings in three of his last four starts and the Red Sox need to figure out a way to get him right or replace him.  While they did ultimately get the W yesterday, they are sinking in the AL East and need to right the ship.

 

2) Conor Gillaspie enjoying his time hitting third…
With Jose Abreu on the DL it’s been Gillaspie who has assumed the role of hitting third in the lineup.  He had a big day yesterday, going 4-4 with 1 RBI and 2 R.  He’s now 25-76 while hitting third, with 0 HR, 7 RBI and 9 R.  While he has yet to hit a home run this season, he has hit the ball incredibly hard (30.7% line drive rate entering the day) while making good contact (14.6% strikeout rate).  While the line drive rate could easily fall, he owns a 22.7% career mark and should be a source of average.  Despite that, he needs to tap into a little bit of his power (13 HR in ’13) for him to hold any type of fantasy appeal.  As of right now he’s more of just a CI option for those in deeper formats.

 

3) Should fantasy owners remain faithful to Chris Tillman…
He took a bit of a beating at the hands of the Brewers yesterday, allowing 6 ER on 7 H and 4 BB, striking out 7, over 5.2 IP.  He now has a 4.69 ERA and 1.44 WHIP as he entered the day with his strikeout down (6.87 K/9) and his walks up (3.59 BB/9) from a year ago (7.81 and 2.97, respectively).  Remember, last season’s numbers were buoyed by a strong second half (8.56 K/9, 2.57 BB/9), so these marks aren’t unbelievable.  There is still upside, but between getting rocked in his previous outing (6 ER in 1.0 IP) and now this it’s fair to be concerned.

 

4) Is Nick Tepesch a pitcher we should be buying…
He improved to 2-0 with a 2.95 ERA and 1.04 WHIP after defeating the Twins yesterday.  Over 6.2 IP he allowed 2 ER on 7 H and 0 BB, striking out 4.  It’s been just three starts, and he also hasn’t drawn the toughest opponents with starts against the Astros, Mariners and Twins, so we don’t want to get overly excited.  He’s not a big-time strikeout pitcher (7.41 K/9 in the minors since 2011), but should bring solid control (2.22 BB/9 since ‘11) and groundballs (48.6% since ’11).  That nearly mirrors the numbers he posted in 19 appearances (17 starts) with the Rangers in ’13 (7.35 K/9, 2.61 BB/9, 47.3% groundball rate), so there likely isn’t much there.  He’s more of a matchup play and nothing more.

 

5) Are the Tigers mishandling Drew Smyly…
He made the start against the A’s yesterday and allowed 6 ER on 8 H and 2 BB, striking out 3, over 5.0 IP.  The A’s tagged him for four home runs, highlighted by Kyle Blanks (2-3, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 3 R) and they hit five on the day (Derek Norris added a grand slam).  The A’s have proven willing to skip Smyly’s spot in the rotation, when the option has been there, and have thus used him out of the bullpen at times (he pitched a perfect inning in relief on 5/22).  He has pitched fairly well, in general, with a 3.86 ERA and 1.33 WHIP, so maybe it’s more of a frustration for fantasy owners (though we had a solid month of starts, with his last relief outing coming on 4/18).  It’s going to be something to monitor, though, as the Tigers continue to limit his workload.

 

6) Ryan Howard turns back the clock with a big day…
He went 3-4 with 1 HR, 5 RBI and 2 R, but it’s just one day.  It was his first home run since May 8 and he’s still hitting just .236 on the season.  He’s hitting the ball hard, with a 23.8% line drive rate, so it’s easy to say that his .298 BABIP is a little unlucky.  At the same time, he has no speed and continues to strikeout way too much (28.9% overall, 30.0% in May).  He would be a lot more palatable if he could get his average up into the .250-.260 ranger, as he’s going to be a source of power and RBI hitting in the middle of Philadelphia’s order.  Just know what you are buying.

 

7) Is Dioner Navarro a viable option in two-catcher formats…
He enjoyed a good day at the plate yesterday, going 2-5 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 2 R and now has back-to-back two hit games (and three in his past five).  He has been catching regularly and is hitting .271 with 2 HR, 20 RBI and 15 R over 144 AB (41 games).  There’s actually more upside in the average department, with an 8.9% strikeout rate (13.4% for his career), 24.1% line drive rate (21.3% for his career) and .282 BABIP.  There’s also a little bit more pop in his bat, with a 4.5% HR/FB (after posting marks of 8.3%, 10.0% and 18.8% the previous three seasons).  While 2013 likely will prove to be the aberration, in a high-powered offense there’s a lot to like.  In deeper formats, there is a lot to like and a reason to be buying at this point.

 

8) George Springer continues to hit and hit and hit…
He’s earning a daily spot in these columns, isn’t he?  It’s hard not to discuss him when he’s pounding the baseball the way he is.  He went 4-4 with 1 HR, 3 RBI and 5 R yesterday as the Royals took it to Yordano Ventura (2.2 IP, 5 ER, 7 H, 3 BB, 3 K, though he left with an injury).  He’s now homered in four straight games (8-16 with 5 HR, 11 RBI and 9 R) and has an 8-game hitting streak (13-30 with 5 HR, 13 RBI and 13 R).  The concern about his average is going to be there, despite the recent stretch, given his 31.6% strikeout rate and .358 BABIP.  He’s currently hitting .268, which may be his upside this season (and he easily could hit under .250), so just keep that in mind.  It takes nothing away from him, given his obvious power and speed, it’s just not something that can be ignored.

 

9) Andre Ethier underwhelming while getting his opportunity…
He started his fourth consecutive game, going 1-4 with a double.  Over this stretch he is 5-15, so the average isn’t terrible, but he also has 0 HR, 0 RBI and 0 R.  We all knew he wasn’t going to be a big power threat, when in the lineup, but he’s slugging just .372 in his 137 AB this season.  At this point does he even warrant a starting role for LA?  It would appear like, once his benching is over, the Dodgers should be prepared to roll out an outfield of Matt Kemp, Yasiel Puig and Carl Crawford moving forward.

 

10) Everth Cabrera breaks out at the plate…
He had been struggling of late, but broke out in a big way yesterday by going 2-4 with 1 HR, 4 RBI, 1 R and 1 SB.  Power isn’t really his game, but we all know the speed and there’s upside in his average department.  He should be able to carry a BABIP better than his current .306 mark and the strikeouts are trending in the right direction (23.8% in April, 19.6% in May).  In other words, don’t give up hope.

 

Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs, CBS Sports, Minor League Central

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