10 Stories From 06/15/14 Box Scores: A New Closer Emerging, Estrada Pitching Way Out Of Rotation & More

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

We saw a few potentially key lineup changes (Curtis Granderson & Brian Dozier), a starting pitcher potentially lose his grip on his rotation spot and a new closer emerge.  Let’s take a look at these stories and all the rest from yesterday’s games:

 

1) Curtis Granderson moved to the leadoff spot…
After missing a few games with a calf injury, not only did Granderson return to the lineup yesterday but he was moved to the leadoff spot for the first time in 2014.  He went 2-3 with 1 HR, 1 RBI and 1 R, so you would think that he could stick in the spot.  However Eric Young Jr. is due back at any time this week, and you would think the Mets would utilize him atop the order once again.  The hope was that Granderson would get back to the type of hitter he was while in Detroit, but instead he entered the day with a 25.5% strikeout rate and 19.0% line drive rate.  While there should be better days ahead, he simply isn’t likely going to be a source of average.

 

2) Is Brandon Workman a viable fantasy option…
He took a no decision against the Indians yesterday, allowing 2 ER on 5 H and 2 BB, striking out 7, over 6.0 IP.  He now owns a 2.88 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 28 K and 12 BB over 34.1 IP for the Red Sox.  Since 2011 in the minors he owned an 8.51 K/9 and 2.15 BB/9, so there is some obvious appeal, though a 38.6% groundball rate does cost him from being a starting pitcher that we would declare a must target option.  That said, he also entered the day with a .215 BABIP (courtesy of a 23.1% line drive rate), so there clearly is the potential for a regression.  Overall there’s upside, but in the short-term he feels like a blowup waiting to happen.  Consider him a viable streamer, though not this week with Oakland on the schedule.

 

3) Is Marco Estrada finally going to be replaced in the Milwaukee rotation…
Another start, another home run fest for Estrada.  Taking on the Reds he allowed 5 ER on 8 H and 0 BB, striking out 3, over 5.0 IP.  Once again it was the long ball that did him in, giving up 3 HR (Billy Hamilton, Brandon Phillips and Todd Frazier), and has now allowed 23 HR in just 84.0 IP this season.  Over his past three starts he’s allowed 15 ER over 17.0 IP and has allowed 4+ ER in six of his past eight starts.  With a viable replacement behind him in Jimmy Nelson, how much longer can the Brewers really continue to run him out there?  For a team battling for a division title the answer should be not much longer.  Nelson last pitched on June 11, so today will tell us a lot.  If the team limits him to only an inning or two, it’s clear that they are at least considering a move.

 

4) Jake McGee earns his first save…
After David Price went 8.0 strong innings (3 ER on 5 H and 0 BB, striking out 10), it was McGee who was called upon to protect a one run lead.  McGee proceeded to allow just 1 H with 1 K to lock down the save.  Long considered a potential closer of the future, McGee now owns a 1.47 ERA, 0.78 WHIP and 35 K over 30.2 IP.  You could argue that there’s been some luck on his side this season (.239 BABIP, 79.2% strand rate), and a 21.2% line drive rate helps to support that.  However there is no questioning his stuff and he has the potential to run with this opportunity.  At this point he’s a must own option in all formats.

 

5) Derek Norris moved into the cleanup spot…
It’s probably not a full-time move, as part of the reason for his promotion was the struggles of Josh Donaldson (who finally got a hit, going 1-4 with 1 RBI hitting sixth).  That said, it’s hard to argue that Norris isn’t deserving of the move.  He went 3-5 with 1 HR, 3 RBI and 1 R yesterday, putting him at .305 with 7 HR and 29 RBI on the season.  There was a time that the A’s viewed him more as just an option against southpaws, and that may still be the case to an extent.  He entered the day with a highly impressive 16.0% strikeout rate and 15.4% walk rate, though he owned a .364 average against LHP and a .238 mark against RHP.  He obviously is a better option in weeks when the A’s have a slew of southpaws on the schedule.

 

6) Rafael Furcal showing signs of life…
Hitting atop the Marlins lineup he went 2-5 with 1 R yesterday.  It’s the first true positive performance since returning from the DL, as he’s 3-16 with 2 R over his first three games.  Of course the fact that he was lifted for a pinch runner late in the game is a bit of a concern, as is the fact that he has a total of 21 SB over the past two seasons.  A major injury risk, it’s hard to imagine him making much of an impact.  As it is, does anyone really believe he’s going to stick in the leadoff spot long-term?  Maybe he’s a short-term fill-in, but don’t consider him much more than that.

 

7) Vance Worley impresses in his return to the Majors…
Taking on the Marlins he tossed 7.0 shutout innings, allowing 5 H and 0 BB, striking out 5.  He had to settle for a no decision, however, as the bullpen gave up 3 ER in just 2.2 IP.  It was an impressive outing, and he actually had posted 43 K vs. 4 BB in 46.0 IP at Triple-A prior to his recall.  He also was generating a significant number of groundballs, with a 55.1% mark (far better than he’s shown, with a 46.0% mark in the minors since 2011 and 43.7% in the Majors).  He’s always had some upside, and if he has figured out how to generate groundballs there could be some upside (though he had 6 groundballs vs. 10 fly balls yesterday).  For now he’s more of a player to watch from a distance instead of actually laying some trust in him prematurely.

 

8) Jaime Garcia posts another impressive outing…
He allowed 1 ER on 5 H and 2 BB, striking out 6, over 7.0 IP to improve to 3-0 with a 3.72 ERA and 0.96 WHIP.  He had faced a bit of bad luck entering the day (68.0% strand rate), as he continues to prove to be one of the elite groundball pitchers in the league (59.1%).  Throw in a solid strikeout stuff (7.15 K/9 for his career) and strong control (2.63 for his career, 0.85 entering the day in ’14) and there’s an awful lot to like.  If he happens to still be sitting on your waiver wire, don’t hesitate.

 

9) Brian Dozier moved to the #3 spot…
While he went 0-4, it would definitely be an interesting development if he was able to stick in the spot (Danny Santana was in the leadoff spot and Joe Mauer hit second).  While Dozier continues to struggle with a .242 average, he has 15 HR, 35 RBI, 55 R and 14 SB on the season.  Hitting third would offer him more RBI opportunities, while he should still be able to score plenty of runs and shouldn’t be handcuffed from trying to steal a base.  In regards to his average, you’d think there would be more upside given his 17.6% strikeout rate and .250 BABIP.  Continue to view him as one of the better 2B options in the league.

 

10) Tommy La Stella producing thus far…
He went 3-3 with 2 RBI and 1 R yesterday, putting him at .411 with 0 HR, 6 RBI, 6 R and 1 SB over 56 AB.  It’s not a surprise that he’s failed to put power or speed up, and his .451 BABIP is obviously going to regress.  That’s not to say that he isn’t going to continue hitting for a strong average, as he has consistently proven capable of in the minors, and hopefully the Braves finally decide to push him up towards the top of the lineup.  He certainly makes sense as a #2 hitter, where B.J. Upton went 1-4 with 2 R and 1 SB yesterday, putting him at .210 for the season.  When they finally make that change, we’d be a lot more positive of his outlook.
Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs, Minor League Central, MILB.com

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