10 Stories From 06/20/14 Box Scores: Minor Dominates, Has Mesoraco Emerged & More

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

It was a crazy day of baseball, with many of the best closers in the game struggling (Craig Kimbrel and Kenley Jansen among them).  Throw in a few impressive pitching performances and some hitters trying to prove they are for real and there’s a lot to cover.  Let’s get to it:

 

1) It’s time to take J.D. Martinez seriously…
He went 3-4 with 1 HR, 3 RBI and 1 R yesterday, putting him at .317 with 7 HR and 25 RBI on the season.  We may not want to believe the impressive numbers, but should we?  Obviously he’s benefitting from a .377 BABIP, though he’s also hitting the ball hard with a 27.6% line drive rate.  How about his current 26.9% HR/FB?  He did have 10 HR in 65 AB prior to being recalled, so we have to wonder if he has suddenly figured something out?  Jason Beck of mlb.com (click here for the article) posted yesterday saying, “He changed his swing over the offseason to give himself a chance at more solid contact. It’s paying off, albeit in streaks.”  It doesn’t appear like the power is going to disappear and, at this point, he’s hard to ignore.  He’s more of a platoon player (he’s hitting .094 against LHP and .417 against RHP), so if there’s a week with a slew of righties he’ll be worth using.

 

2) Mike Minor dominates, despite settling for no decision…
You couldn’t ask for much more from Minor, who allowed 2 ER on 7 H and 2 BB, striking out 11, over 7.0 IP but ultimately settled for a no decision after Craig Kimbrel (2 ER in his IP) blew his fourth save of the season.  Minor had been struggling of late, allowing 11 ER on 22 H and 4 BB over his past 9.0 innings.  His biggest issues this season has been getting hit hard (26.7% line drive rate) and the long ball (16.4% HR/FB).  Are those things he can correct?  Hopefully (though the home runs could continue to plague him), but his current 9.00 K/9 is likely to regress (7.7% SwStr%).  There should be improvements to his 4.20 ERA and 1.48 WHIP, but don’t consider him a lock to be a tremendous option.

 

3) Has Devin Mesoraco emerged as a must use catcher…
He went 2-4 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 1 R yesterday, and he now owns home runs in back-to-back games and has a modest four-game hitting streak (7-16, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 5 R).  Overall he’s hitting .310 with 11 HR and 31 RBI in 142 AB.  He’s always had power, but a 26.8% HR/FB?  How about a catcher maintaining a .347 BABIP?  Both are unlikely, so while he’s must use at the moment it wouldn’t be surprising to see him regress as the season moves on.  While things are different for those in keeper formats, now may be the time to try and sell high.

 

4) Jarred Cosart stellar in defeating the Rays…
David Price was excellent for Tampa Bay (8.0 IP, 2 ER, 6 H, 3 BB, 12 K), but Cosart was better.  He tossed 8.0 shutout innings allowing 6 H and 1 BB, striking out 2, to improve to 7-5 with a 3.78 ERA and 1.32 WHIP.  The underlying metrics are realistic, with a .281 BABIP and impressive 56.7% groundball rate.  The problem is that it also indicates not much upside, with a 6.14 K/9 (6.3% SwStr%) and 3.58 BB/9.  In fact, would it surprise anyone if his control regressed (4.7 BB/9 in 120.2 IP at Triple-A)?  He’s nothing more than a back end option.

 

5) Has A.J. Burnett finally turned things around…
He tossed a complete game gem against the Cardinals, allowing 1 ER on 7 H and 1 BB, striking out 3.  He also generated 17 groundballs, which definitely was a big part of his success.  He’s now allowed 6 ER over his last 24.1 IP, though he’s continued to struggle generating strikeouts with just 10 over that span.  In fact, he’s struck out 4 batters or fewer in 5 of his past 6 starts and 6 or fewer in 8 of his past 9.  Overall he owns a 6.66 K/9 and his 6.9% SwStr% continues to be a concern.  Unless he can get that number up he’s going to be destined to disappoint fantasy owners.

 

6) Is this finally the last straw for Marco Estrada…
It was a shootout at Coors Field, with the two teams combining for 23 runs on 35 hits.  Plus, in all fairness to Estrada, he settled down after allowing 6 ER over the first two innings (Justin Morneau did the bulk of that damage, finishing 2-5 with 1 HR, 5 RBI and 1 R).  Still, he allowed 7 ER on 10 H and 1 BB, striking out 7, over 5.2 IP and now owns a 5.22 ERA.  He’s 4+ ER in six of his past seven starts, including 22 ER over his past 22.2 IP.  Amazingly he’s allowed at least 1 HR in 12 consecutive starts and 14 of his 15 outings this season (24 HR total).  With these types of problems, how can the Brewers really continue to let Jimmy Nelson continue to marinate at Triple-A?  A change should be coming, and you can argue that it should’ve already.

 

7) Felix Doubront’s return doesn’t go as planned…
With Brandon Workman suspended, Doubront came off the DL and returned to the Red Sox rotation.  However he didn’t fare well against the A’s, allowing 3 ER on 2 H and 4 BB, striking out 4, over 4.2 IP.  Control has always been his biggest issue, and the big blow yesterday was a home run from Josh Donaldson (1-3, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 R, 1 SB).  With both Workman and Rubby De La Rosa pitching well, and Clay Buchholz also closing in on a return, it’s hard to imagine Doubront not getting pushed to the bullpen.  There’s no fantasy appeal at the moment.

 

8) Seth Smith enjoys a big day…
He went 3-3 with 2 HR, 2 RBI and 2 R, with both home runs coming against Dan Haren (5.2 IP, 3 ER, 5 H, 2 BB, 5 K).  Smith continues to be an extreme platoon player, with a .304/.400/.554 slash against RHP and a .158/.360/.263 against LHP.  In fact, the Padres hardly allow Smith to play against southpaws with just 19 AB against them this season.  He’s a much better fit for those in daily formats and only usable in weekly leagues when the Padres are set to square off with mostly righties.

 

9) Is Starlin Castro officially “back”…
He went 1-4 with 1 HR, 3 RBI and 1 R yesterday, putting him at .290 with 11 HR and 43 RBI on the season.  He’s clearly settled in as the Cubs’ cleanup hitter, which may not be an ideal lineup spot for him (though it’s clearly not hindering him).  He has his strikeouts down (16.4%), his line drives up (22.5%) and there’s nothing unrealistic about his luck (.320 BABIP).  The biggest question is whether the power is for real, with a 14.7% HR/FB (6.8% for his career).  At 24-years old is it really a stretch to see him add power, though?  Even more interesting is that 8 of his 11 HR have come on the road, so it’s fair to think he could produce better at home as the weather warms and the wind starts blowing out.  While he’s stolen just 2 bases thus far, there’s a lot to like overall.

 

10) It was a rough day to be a closer…
There were numerous closers that had poor days, though in most cases there’s little concern overall:

  • Zach Britton (0.2 IP, 4 ER, 3 H, 1 BB, 1 K, BSV) – It was a terrible outing, but he’s earned enough rope that one poor outing shouldn’t hurt his job status
  • Craig Kimbrel (1.0 IP, 2 ER, 1 H, 2 BB, 0 K, BSV) – It’s amazing that he’s blown 4 saves already, isn’t it
  • Aroldis Chapman (0.2 IP, 4 ER, 2 H, 2 BB, 1 K) – He entered in a tie game and had gotten 4 outs the day before
  • Greg Holland (1.0 IP, 2 ER, 3 H, 2 BB, 1 K) – He was saddled with the L after entering in a non-save situation.  Rough outing, but no concern
  • Glen Perkins (1.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 H, 1 BB, BSV) – He was ultimately rewarded with a W, but having missed time recently with a back injury you have to wonder if it’s still an issue
  • Kenley Jansen (0.2 IP, 3 ER, 3 H, BSV) – He’s now allowed runs in three of his past four outings, seeing his ERA balloon to 4.55.  He remains one of the elite in the game, however, and shouldn’t be in any sort of jeopardy

 

Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs, Baseball Reference, MLB.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *