10 Stories From 06/30/14 Box Scores: Arrieta Dominates, T. Walker Makes Season Debut & More

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

With Manny Machado suspended, Chris Davis shifted over to 3B.  Will he play there all 5 games?  If he does, that will be a significant boost to many fantasy owners (despite his struggles this season).  What else happened on the diamond that we need to know about?  Let’s take a look:


1) Jake Arrieta flirts with a no-hitter….
To say that he dominated the Red Sox would be an understatement, allowing 1 H and 1 BB, striking out 10, over 7.2 shutout innings.  He now owns a 1.81 ERA and 1.01 WHIP, as he continues to finally live up to the big expectations that were once bestowed upon him when he was with the Orioles.  We’ve spoken about him before, but it definitely is worth repeating, as he continues to show big strikeout stuff (10.30 K/9), elite control (2.23 BB/9) and groundballs (49.1%) at least in part due to the addition of a cutter to his repertoire (which he’s throwing 23.1% of the time).  There’s room for regression, given his 82.0% strand rate, but it’s hardly enough to be concerned about.  He’s a must use option in all formats.


2) Steven Pearce helps lead the assault on the Rangers…
The Orioles hit four home runs, with Pearce going 2-5 with 2 HR, 4 RBI and 2 R.  He continues to hit, currently at .327 with 9 HR and 25 RBI over 147 AB.  As we’ve said before, don’t mistake him for a youngster (31-years old) and he has also benefited from a .379 BABIP (likely unmaintainable despite his career best 24.1%) and an 18.0% HR/FB (8.7% for his career).  The Orioles are going to continue to find AB for him, as long as he’s hitting, and you should do the same.  Just don’t get too attached, because he will likely regress before we know it.


3) The Nationals give us a glimpse of their new lineup, though will it last…
The question of where is everyone going to play upon Bryce Harper’s return was answered, at least initially, yesterday.  Harper (1-3, 1 RBI, 1 R) was in LF with Ryan Zimmerman (3-4, 1 RBI, 2 R) back at 3B, Anthony Rendon (1-4, 1 R) at 2B and Danny Espinosa on the bench.  Is that the way things are going to stay moving forward?  Time will tell, but the player the pressure is on is Denard Span, who went 0-3 yesterday and is hitting .265 with 13 SB in 309 AB.  If he slumps he could easily find his way onto the bench, shifting everyone else back around.  Keep a close eye on the situation and see how it develops.


4) Jed Lowrie heating up for the A’s…
He was hitting seventh yesterday, though the A’s are a team that is constantly moving their lineup around.  He went 2-4 with 3 RBI yesterday and has now gone 5-15 with 5 RBI and 3 R over his past three games.  It isn’t a lot, but at least it’s a step in the right direction.  Overall he’s hitting .221 with 4 HR, 31 RBI and 40 R, but most of his issues are due to poor luck and nothing else.  He currently owns a 13.8% strikeout rate (13.7% in ’13) and 23.0% line drive rate (23.4% in ’13), yet his BABIP sits at just .246 (.319 last season when he hit .290).  This mini hot streak could easily just be the start of things to come, so if someone in your league gave up on him don’t be afraid to scoop him up.


5) Zack Wheeler was good…  Kind of anyways…
We spoke about him in detail yesterday (click here for the article), and yesterday’s performance didn’t do anything to hurt the potential we spoke about.  The problem, however, was his control once again.  Over 6.1 IP he allowed 1 ER on 4 H and 5 BB, striking out 4, as it took him 113 pitches.  He did induce 9 groundballs, which is good, but can he actually avoid the walks?  That’s the million dollar question and, until he does, he is going to continue to be an inconsistent option for fantasy owners.


6) Alcides Escobar continues to thrive, at the bottom of the lineup…
He went 2-4 with 4 RBI, putting him at .295 with 2 HR, 28 RBI, 38 R and 20 SB.  You can argue that he doesn’t draw enough walks to hit towards the top (4.8%), but that should hardly be a huge cause for concern.  He doesn’t strikeout (13.4%) and has been hitting the ball extremely hard (24.5% line drive rate, the third straight season he’s at 23% or better).  Why keep him hitting in the bottom three, while Eric Hosmer (1-4) is hitting .246 and was in the second spot yesterday?  While they’ve shown no indication that they could move him up, don’t be surprised if they do before long.


7) Taijuan Walker finally makes his season debut…
He pitched fairly well too, allowing 3 ER on 5 H and 2 BB, striking out 6, over 6.0 IP.  His problem were home runs, with George Springer (1-3, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 R, 1 SB) and Marwin Gonzalez (1-4, 1 HR, 2 RBI) taking him deep.  Walker was one of the most hyped prospects entering the season, as he owns a minor league career 3.48 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 9.8 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9.  There’s obviously a lot of upside, but the control is no guarantee (3.8 BB/9 over 17 starts at Triple-A) and he isn’t an elite groundball pitcher (42.9% in the minors since ’11).  Does that mean he shouldn’t be owned?  Of course not, just keep a close eye on him.  There will likely be a lot of inconsistency, as is normally the case with young pitchers early on (see Zack Wheeler earlier in this column).


8) Dan Haren outduels Corey Kluber…
Kluber was good (6.2 IP, 1 ER, 6 H, 1 BB, 5 K), but Haren was tremendous as he allowed 0 ER on 1 H and 1 BB, striking out 5, over 7.0 IP.  Haren is now 8-4 with a 3.57 ERA and 1.21 WHIP on the season.  There’s nothing concerning in the luck metrics (.276 BABIP, 71.4% strand rate), but does that mean he’s a lock to maintain the production?  He has struggled with home runs for the third consecutive season (1.39 HR/9) and a 6.01 K/9 is going to limit his appeal (his 6.5% SwStr% is by far his career low, so there is some hope).  Unless he can improve on the Ks, he’s not going to be anything more than a backend option.


9) Jesse Hahn dazzles against the Reds…
He did last just 5.0 IP, needing 97 pitches, but he didn’t allow a run while he gave up 3 H and 2 BB, striking out 9.  It was actually an odd start for him, with the monster strikeout number and the lack of a single groundball.  Over his minor league career he owned an 8.76 K/9 (7.75 at Double-A in 38.1 IP), 2.65 BB/9 and 58.6% groundball rate.  The start was extremely impressive, despite not being indicative of his actual talent.  Don’t start looking towards him as a strikeout pitcher, instead one that’s going to generate a lot of groundballs.  He should maintain to be a good option, just know what you are buying.


10) Chris Archer pitches well in a no decision…
Taking on the Yankees he allowed 2 ER on 5 H and 2 BB, striking out 4, over 7.0 IP.  He was in position for a W, but the team let Joel Peralta try to close it out and he quickly coughed up the lead.  Archer does own a 3.24 ERA and 8.10 K/9 over 100.0 IP, but a 1.30 WHIP offers a bit of a concern.  A 23.5% line drive rate is a red flag and backs up his .310 BABIP, and also has been above 20% each month this season (26.7% in June).  He’s got some appeal, but he’s going to also carry some risk unless he can get the line drive rate in check.


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


  1. Sawyer says:

    James Jones with 3 steals! What can we expect from him ROS?

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      He should be a decent option for SB, though not a great one (54 SB in in 79 attempts the previous two seasons). He also has the makeup of a decent average hitter and could score some runs.

      He’s hardly going to be a must own option, but in deeper formats he’s a nice under-the-radar target.

  2. Adam says:

    Would you prefer Jed Lowrie or Brad Miller the rest of the season in a 10-team roto league? I’m leaning towards Lowrie.

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