by Ray Kuhn
As we embark on the last full week of June, let’ take a look at some of the storylines you should be aware of from Monday’s action.
1) How Much Longer Does Ronald Belisario Have as Closer?
For starters, I feel like I am a broken record asking this question. Belisario blew his fourth save of the season, while also taking his fourth loss of the season, Monday night against the Orioles and I have to think that his time has to be limited at this point. So far Robin Ventura has, at least publically, stated that Belisario is his closer, but after Chris Davis’s three run home run to defeat Chicago, I would not be shocked to see a change made. Belisario’s ERA now sits at 5.50 and his stint as closer has been stressful and ugly to say the least. New addition Javy Guerra pitched a scoreless 7th inning against the Orioles to bring his ERA down to 2.19 on the season, and he is a name I would have on my radar as we wait to see how Ventura handles this situation.
2) Is This What Chris Davis Needed?
Yes, we know that Davis that has been slumping, that is an understatement. And we also preach not to read much into single games, so here I am talking about just one at bat. Davis got the day off on Monday as the Orioles look to get him right, and he came up big with a game winning, three run home run. That brings Davis’ average up to a robust .219 on the season. But for as much as Davis has struggled, and battled injury problems this season, he does have 13 home runs and 40 RBI’s which could be worse. Prior to Monday night, Davis’ average in his last 10 games was just .150, so this is not the time to sell low on him as it can’t get any worse than this.
3) Edinson Volquez Bounces Back in a Big Way
After a horrific outing in his last start that saw Volquez’s ERA rise by close to a run as he allowed eight runs in 2.1 innings, the right-hander rebounded against Tampa Bay rewarding fantasy owners who stuck with him. Volquez is another example of a pitcher who has found success in Pittsburgh, and while I would not classify him as an every week starter, he is certainly a very useful matchup play. Making the first of his two starts this week Volquez allowed just one run in eight innings lowering his ERA to 4.35 while giving up just five hits and two walks. What was interesting is that Volquez only struck out one batter as he earned his fifth win of the season giving just 56 in 2014.
4) Jeremy Guthrie Continues His Winning Ways
If you read the article about Two-Start Pitcher’s for this week, then Guthrie’s performance should not have come as a shock. Guthrie and the Royals did not miss a beat as they defeated the Dodgers 5-3 Monday night with the right-hander earning his fifth win of the season. The right-hander allowed just two runs in 7.2 innings, both coming in the eighth inning, while seeing his ERA fall to 3.75. Guthrie scattered seven hits while striking out five batters and allowing no walks on the night. After a mediocre start to the season Guthrie has pitched to an ERA just about three in his last 10 starts and should be working his way onto everyone’s radar.
5) Casey McGehee Is an RBI Machine
After spending a season in Japan, McGehee has come back with vengeance. But at this point, that is old news and owners that did not buy into the third baseman early in the season have missed out. Against the Phillies McGehee had two more doubles, giving him 19 on the season, while also driving in his 45th and 46th runs of the season to go along with a .309 average. Much has been made about the lack of power, he has just one home run on the season, but you should not let that effect you. Batting behind Giancarlo Stanton, McGehee has been a great, albeit surprising, source of run production that cannot be ignored.
6) Marcus Stroman Looks to be Living up to His Potential
It wasn’t an easy beginning to his major league career for Marcus Stroman, but it looks like he has certainly found his groove. Monday night was the fifth start of Stroman’s career, and it was also his best. And that is saying something considering that the first three starts of his career were classified as quality starts, six innings in each start and five earned runs total. After tonight’s start, Stroman’s ERA now sits at 4.25 on the season, and the majority of that damage was done when he was a reliever earlier in the season. Facing the Yankees, Stroman pitched eight innings of one run ball with the lone blemish being a Mark Teixiera solo home run. Stroman allowed just two other hits and one walk while striking out seven batters. At this point if Stroman is not owned, then he needs to be.
7) Ryan Braun’s Ankle is Alright
It has not been an easy season for Braun as he has battled injury, but it appears there is nothing to worry about with his ankle. Braun batted second against the Nationals, continued with his subpar season going 1-4 while striking out twice and leaving runners on base as his average fell to .278. While batting second certainly limits his RBI opportunities, I don’t think this will continue, it should allow him to see better pitchers to hit. Braun might be a player to buy low on.
8) Gio Gonzalez Looks to be Back to Normal
Gonzalez said that his shoulder was healthy and there was nothing to worry upon his return. After Monday night’s start against the Brewers, he appears to be correct. While I still believe that Gonzalez has some strides to make as he shakes off some rust, I think you can move forward with the southpaw without issue. Gonzalez needed 114 pitches to get through six shutout innings as he allowed three hits and four walks while striking out five batters to lower his ERA to 4.38.
9) Matt Adams is in a Groove
Adams got off to a slow start this season, especially in the power department, but after returning from disabled list he is certainly making up for that. The first basemen went into Coors Field on Monday and hit two home runs, giving him eight on the season (five in June), while driving in six runs to bring his season total to 31 along with his .328 average. With Adams continuing to hit like this, playing time for him will not be an issue, and he is proving that last season was not a fluke.
10) Who is Odrisamer Despaigne, and Where Did he Come From?
Despaigne got the call, only because Andrew Cashner had to go back on the disabled list with a shoulder injury, to pitch Monday night against the Giants. To say that Despaigne came out of nowhere would be an understatement as he only has seven minor league starts on his resume, all in 2014. He made two starts in AA pitching in just 7.2 innings and then made five starts logging 23.2 in AAA prior to his promotion. Despaigne struggled allowing 19 earned runs but also had success in striking out 41 batters. Other than that, what we know about the Cuban hurler is fuzzy to say the least. But as far as debut’s go, Despaigne had a pretty good introduction to the major leagues. The right hander pitched seven shutout innings while allowing just four hits and no walks. What was surprising is that for all the strikeouts he had in the minor leagues, he only struck out one Giant while needing just 86 pitches, 59 of which were strikes. Obviously we can’t expect Despaigne to continue this dominance, but he might be someone to keep an eye at the very least.