10 Stories From 06/18/14 Box Scores: Young Pitchers Shine (Arrieta, Gausman, Gibson) & More

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

The biggest story was obviously Clayton Kershaw, who was amazing as he needed just 107 pitches to strikeout 15 and no-hit the Colorada Rockies.  We also saw Tim Hudson have a rare poor outing (7 ER on 12 H and 1 BB over 4.2 IP), Gio Gonzalez come off the DL to mediocre results against the Astros (4 ER on 5 H and 3 BB, striking out 6, over 5.0) IP an Jenrry Mejia have to be pulled mid-save opportunity (1 ER on 2 H over 0.2 IP).  What else happened on the field that we need to know about?  Let’s take a look:


1) The Braves shuffled their lineup…
It was probably lost in the beating that they took, as Aaron Harang allowed 9 R (8 ER) on 13 H and 3 BB, striking out 4, over 5.0 IP.  However, Tommy La Stella was moved into the leadoff spot with B.J. Upton on the bench and Jason Heyward moving down to the fifth spot.  There was no question that something needed to be done, but it’s surprising that Heyward was moved off the leadoff spot.  While he hasn’t been great (.255with 8 HR, 27 RBI, 35 R and 9 SB), it’s also hard to label him the problem.  Moving down in the order will obviously reduce his opportunity to score runs, though his RBI opportunities will increase significantly.  As for La Stella, he went 0-4 hitting atop the order and is unlikely to stick there (he doesn’t offer much speed).  He’s much better suited to be hitting in the #2 spot, though time will tell how the Braves shape things.  As long as he’s not hitting at the bottom, his value is going to increase and make it him a potentially viable MI.


2) Another impressive outing for Jake Arrieta, so is it time to believe…
Impressive may not be the right word, as he dominated the Marlins allowing 1 ER on 5 H and 1 BB, striking out 11, over 7.0 IP to improve to 3-1 with a 1.98 ERA.  He has had a little bit of favorable luck, with an 81.8% strand rate, and also has had to work around a .325 BABIP courtesy of a 23.1% line drive rate.  That said, he’s been showing strikeouts (9.21 K/9), control (2.93 BB/9) and groundballs (52.1%).  Long considered a top prospect, he owned a minor league K/9 of 8.8 and BB/9 of 3.8, and his career groundball rate is 44.1%.  In other words there is no guarantee that he can maintain these numbers, though he also has changed his pitch mix (he’s throwing a cutter 19.7%, having almost completely ditched his slider).  That definitely could justify the improvement and makes him that much more intriguing.  Given the skills he’s showing, he’s well worth grabbing if he’s still available.


3) Kevin Gausman outduels Alex Cobb, to hopefully win a rotation spot…
Cobb was solid, allowing just an unearned run on 4 H and 4 BB, striking out 6, over 7.0 IP.  However Gausman was better, tossing 6.0 shutout innings allowing 5 H and 1 BB, striking out 5.  In three starts since returning to the Majors he’s allowed 2 ER on 14 H and 5 BB, striking out 14, over 19.0 IP.  You would think it’s enough to guarantee a rotation spot, though time will tell.  We all know how high his upside is, and hopefully he’s finally put it all together.  He’s worth adding in all formats at this point, as his upside is just as high (if not higher) than someone like Andrew Heaney.


4) Kyle Gibson fantastic once again…
He was matched pitch for pitch by John Lackey (9.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 H, 1 BB, 9 K) so he ultimately had to settle for a no decision.  Gibson went 7.0 shutout innings himself, allowing just 1 H and 0 BB while striking out 8.  He has now gone three consecutive starts (21.0 IP) without allowing a run.  He’s also been a groundball machine of late, with at least 10 in four straight starts and at least 9 in seven consecutive.  He entered the day with a 54.8% groundball rate, as well as a 2.96 BB/9 (2.5 over his minor league career).  What he hadn’t been showing was strikeouts (4.50 K/9), though he did have an 8.2% SwStr% and showed off his upside yesterday.  While he’s hardly a guarantee, there’s a lot to like with his upside.


5) Drew Smyly impressive, despite taking the L…
He allowed 2 ER on 7 H and 0 BB, striking out 6, over 7.0 IP.  He now owns a 3.48 ERA and 1.29 WHIP on the season and has allowed 4 ER over 19.0 IP in his past three starts.  That said, he did enter the day with an 81.6% strand rate and there is a chance that he regresses.  The Tigers also continue to skip his starts, when the opportunity arises, which is going to continue to frustrate fantasy owners.  He definitely owns upside, though he’s a tough to trust.


6) Has the bubble finally burst on Yangervis Solarte…
He went 0-3 yesterday and is now 0-21 over his past six games.  In June he’s hitting .167 with 0 HR, 2 RBI and 4 R.  While he should start hitting again, at some point, let’s remember that he was playing well over his head in May (.296 with 5 HR).  In the minor leagues he was a .286/.336/.397 hitter over 2,539 AB.  The Yankees don’t have many other options, so Solarte should continue to get some chances, but fantasy owners don’t need to necessarily stick with him.  He has little power, no speed and is no guarantee to fully turn this thing back around.


7) Anthony Rendon’s making an impact…
He went 2-5 with 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R and 2 SB yesterday, putting him at .273 with 10 HR, 38 RBI, 44 R and 5 SB.  We all knew there was potential in the average department, and there’s room for improvement (after line drive rates of 14.8% and 15.8% the first two months, he’s at 22.8% in June), but it’s the power that has caught many by surprise.  He did have a total of 35 doubles a year ago and his HR/FB is a realistic 11.1% (7.2% in ’13).  At 24-years old, the growth is certainly not impossible.  As it is he’s shaping up to be one of the better 3B options in the league.  At 2B?  He could be even better.  He’s certainly not a sell high candidate at this point.


8) Kyle Parker makes his first start…
It wasn’t fair, considering it was against Clayton Kershaw to begin with (the fact that he was as dominant as ever just added to it), but it was still noteworthy.  With Michael Cuddyer out of the lineup until August, there’s a chance Parker fills his role, both in the outfield and at first base, making him an intriguing player to look at.  Parker had hit 20+ HR each of the past three seasons in the minors and, while he had just 7 HR in 253 AB in the PCL this season, he was slugging .482 thanks to 21 doubles and 3 triples.  The owner of a minor league career .293 average, we’ll take a closer look at him in the coming days but he belongs squarely on your radar.


9) Curtis Granderson moved back to the cleanup spot…
He was in the leadoff spot a few times recently, but the Mets moved Eric Young Jr. (2-4, 2 RBI, 1 R) there yesterday (he had hit ninth the previous two games).  It remains to be seen if Granderson will move back atop the lineup on days where the Mets chose to hit the pitcher eighth, but the fact is that they desperately need his bat in the middle of the lineup (though if Young is batting ninth the RBI opportunities should be better than for most NL leadoff hitters).  He went 0-1 with 3 BB yesterday, putting him at .226 with 9 HR, 32 RBI, 31 R and 5 SB.  The numbers aren’t terrible, and there is still upside in the average department (24.3% strikeout rate, .275 BABIP, 20.8% line drive rate).


10) What’s wrong with Jed Lowrie…
He went 0-4 yesterday and is now hitting .222 on the season.  He was never going to be a major source of power (16 in ’12, 15 in ’13), but he has been hitting the ball in the air far too much (47.7%).  That’s not to say that he shouldn’t improve, with a 13.0% strikeout rate and .242 BABIP (despite a 22.4% line drive rate).  Still, he needs to cut down on the fly balls a little bit.  Don’t sell low on him, as there should be a hot stretch coming.


Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs, Minor League Central, Baseball Reference


  1. Marky Mark says:

    I’m selling off pieces this year to get some nice keepers going forward and Rendon is one of my targets. But I have my concerns about whether or not this power is a fluke and I’ll end up with a pumpkin.

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      That’s a fair concern, though it’s hard to call the underlying numbers unbelievable. Who would you have to give up to get him?

      • Marky Mark says:

        I don’t know at this point. Don’t even particularly care. Depends on what they want/need to fill the holes on their rosters so they can make a run for the title.

        I don’t have a problem ‘overpaying’ a little bit if it means I get my target. Since we can keep players forever without any penalty or cost, all that really matters for me at this point is that I’m acquiring the type of guys that could legitimately be top-5 or better at their position every year for the next 5-6 years. I know there’s no guarantees of such a thing, but that’s where I’m putting my bets right now…and I’m on the fence as to whether or not Rendon qualifies as that. (I suspect it may even be possible that a Rendon and Jimmy Nelson package could be had)

        • Rotoprofessor says:

          Well, as a reader here you know I love Nelson. Is Rendon going to be a Top 5 at either 2B or 3B? That may be a stretch, but he definitely could be in any season and should be a Top 10 at either spot.

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