10 Stories From 06/04/14 Box Scores: Has B. Hamilton Turned The Corner, Has Minor Become An Ace & More

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

Aramis Ramirez came off the DL to slide into the fifth spot of the lineup and deliver a three-run home run.  Who else impressed on the field yesterday?  Whose struggles do we need to take note of?  Let’s take a look at the biggest stories coming out of yesterday’s games:

 

1) Has Mike Minor officially evolved into a fantasy ace…
While Hisashi Iwakuma outpitched him (7.0 IP, 0 ER, 6 H, 0 BB, 7 K), barely, it is hard not to walk away impressed with Minor’s performance yesterday.  Over 7.0 IP he allowed just 1 ER on 5 H and 3 BB, striking out 10, leaving him with a 3.07 ERA and 1.23 WHIP on the season.  It would appear like there’s a lot to like, but when you look at the numbers there are some obvious concerns.  He entered the day with an 85.1% strand rate and, while his .282 BABIP looks realistic, a 23.0% line drive rate could lead to future failure.  There’s still upside, especially if he can continue generating strikeouts (12 swinging strikes yesterday) with excellent control, just be aware of the other underlying metrics as there likely is going to be a few bumps on the horizon.

 

2) Stick a fork in A.J. Burnett…
He got shelled by the Nationals, allowing 8 ER on 10 H and 4 BB, striking out 3, over 6.0 IP and now owns a 4.41 ERA and 1.51 WHIP.  He’s allowed 4+ ER in three straight starts (17 ER over 20.0 IP) and 3+ ER in six straight (29 ER over 36.0 IP).  We talked about him in detail recently (click here for the article), and this outing just hammered home the issues.  The strikeouts continue to suffer, the luck was bound to regress given his bloated line drive rate and he continues to struggle with his control.  Maybe he can turn things around, but if you are desperate for a lineup spot he can be cut in most formats.

 

3) Has Billy Hamilton finally turned the corner…
He went 3-4 yesterday and now has three straight multi-hit games (7-14, 4 R, 3 SB) and an overall six game hitting streak (10-25, 4 R, 4 SB).  We knew going in that he wasn’t going to be a source of HR or RBI, but that he could carry you in the SB department single-handedly.  The problem is that he hadn’t been getting on base enough to utilize his speed.  He now owns a .302 OBP, hardly enough.  Since 2011 he owned a 10.0% walk rate in the minors, so there’s hope in regards to his 4.7% mark entering the day.  We’d also love to see him cut down on the strikeouts, though with his speed you would expect a BABIP higher than .314 (especially with a 25.2% line drive rate).  There is still hope, especially considering he has 22 SB despite the issues.  Things could get better quickly.

 

4) Nick Markakis turning back the clock…
He was often overlooked entering the season, but he went 2-3 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 1 R yesterday to put him at .308 with 4 HR and 21 RBI on the season.  He now owns a 9-game hitting streak, going 15-38 with 1 HR, 5 RBI and 7 R in the process.  While he was always only going to chip in the occasional home run (he’s been between 10 and 15 each of the past four seasons), he’s always shown to be a good hitter who can get on base.  Hitting atop a good lineup, that’s going to lead to runs scored.  Obviously he’s not a Top 25-30 OF, but as a fill-in while he’s hot (in shallower formats) or as an option to fill out your team in five-outfielder leagues, he was always going to hold value.

 

5) Who’s hotter than Josh Willingham…
Not only does he have an 8-game hitting streak (11-25 with 4 HR, 11 RBI and 6 R), he also has a seven game RBI streak after going 203 with 1 RBI and 2 R yesterday.  There’s never been a question about his power, but does anyone really believe the .370 BABIP he entered the day with?  Ride him while he’s hot, but don’t be surprised when the bubble bursts and he comes crashing back to earth.

 

6) Garrett Richards impresses against the Astros…
Richards went 8.0 shutout innings allowing just 4 H and 0 BB, striking out 9 and now owns a 3.25 ERA and 1.15 WHIP on the season.  It was an important bounce back performance, after he allowed 5 ER in just 0.2 innings against the A’s in his last start.  He’s striking out batters at a career best rate this season, and an increase should not have come as a total surprise (9.5% career SwStr%) and he’s also throwing harder than ever (95.8 mph average fastball).  Couple that jump with solid groundballs and control and there’s an awful lot to like.  Continue to view him as a solid option in all formats.

 

7) Didi Gregorius returns to the Majors…
Playing for the first time since the series in Australia, Gregorius not only was in the lineup (thanks to the injury to Cliff Pennington) but also hitting in the leadoff spot (thanks to the injury to A.J. Pollock).  He thrived in the position, going 3-6 with 1 HR, 1 RBI and 3 R, though everyone looked good yesterday as the Diamondbacks racked up 16 R on 21 H.  Gregorius is no lock to play regularly, as he will have to battle Chris Owings, and while he was hitting .310 at Triple-A he did so with just 3 HR and 3 SB.  If he sticks in the leadoff spot there could be value as a two category performer (AVG & R), but otherwise he simply doesn’t bring enough to the table.

 

8) Francisco Liriano struggles with his control again…
He allowed 1 H with 7 K over 5.0 IP, so how could there be a problem?  Well he walked 6, leading to him yielding 3 R (2 earned).  He’s now 1-6 on the season with a 4.54 ERA.  He entered the day with a 9.23 K/9 and 52.2% groundball rate, while his .317 BABIP (20.7% line drive rate) and 70.8% strand rate hardly indicate a regression on the horizon.  He’s struggled with home runs (14.0% HR/FB), something that shouldn’t be a major issue.  The biggest thing is rediscovering his control, because if he can do that all the other numbers are still there for extreme success.  Don’t give up on him yet.

 

9) Should there be concerns regarding Jesse Chavez…
Yes, he did get the W yesterday but he also allowed 4 ER on 7 H and 2 BB, striking out 5, over 6.0 IP against the Yankees.  His ERA and WHIP are up to 3.04 and 1.20, hardly unimpressive numbers, but he’s also failed to go more than 6.0 innings in each of his past four starts.  At the same time, he does continue to show strikeout stuff with solid control and the ability to generate enough groundballs (47.0% entering the day).  He did enter the day with a 78.8% strand rate, so there’s a little room for regression, but there’s still a lot to like.

 

10) Eugenio Suarez makes his Tigers’ debut…
He was recalled yesterday and didn’t start, but got into the game once Austin Romine went down with an injury.  He certainly wasn’t recalled to sit on the bench, and he should assume the starting role from this point forward.  He was hitting .288 with 8 HR and 9 SB between Double and Triple-A this season, showing some increased power (though he did have 46 extra base hits in ’13) and continued speed.  He may not hit for as much power in Detroit, but there’s definitely potential to contribute for those in deeper formats.

 

Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs, MILB.com, Minor League Central

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