10 Stories From 07/09/14 Box Scores: Is Kipnis Finally Turning Things Around, Darvish’s Struggles & More

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

Troy Tulowitzki continued his impressive 2014 campaign, going 2-4 with 2 HR, 2 RBI and 2 R.  Arismendy Alcantara made his Major League debut, going 0-4 with 2 K, though it’s expected to be a short stint this time around (Darwin Barney is on the paternity list).  What else happened on the field?  Let’s take a look:

 

1) Marcus Stroman stumbles against the Angels…
He got torched for 6 R (5 earned) on 8 H and 1 BB, striking out 4, over 3.2 IP.  It’s the first time he has allowed more than 3 ER in a start since moving to the rotation on May 31 and while he has had success, it shouldn’t have come as a major surprise (the Angels are the second highest scoring team at home this season, behind only the Rockies).  As we have said rookie pitchers are going to have their ups and downs, and this was a tough situation for Stroman to thrive in.  Don’t let it discourage you in the least, as he should bounce back strong his next time out.

 

2) Nathan Eovaldi has strong start in Arizona…
He allowed 1 ER on 4 H and 1 BB, striking out 2, but was ultimately saddled with a no decision.  He now owns a 3.61 ERA and 1.21 WHIP, though while he entered with a 6.47 K/9 he hasn’t had more than 3 K in each of his past six starts.  Considering a 7.5% SwStr% and career 6.27 K/9, that’s a trend that could continue.  Couple that with potential regression in his control (1.76 BB/9 vs. 3.11 for his career) and modest 43.6% groundball rate and there isn’t a lot to get overly excited about.

 

3) Is Jason Kipnis finally turning things around…
The Yankees/Indians game went 14 innings, with plenty of storylines like Mark Teixeira hitting 2 HR (something we’re going to talk about in the next few days) and Brandon McCarthy’s first start for New York (6.2 IP, 1 ER, 9 H, 1 BB, 3 K).  It’s Kipnis, though, who may be the biggest story.  With Michael Bourn out he’s been moved to the leadoff role in recent days and has clearly responded.  He went 2-7 with 1 R and 1 SB yesterday, putting him at 4-11 with 2 R and 3 SB over the past two games.  In July (36 AB) he’s hitting .306 with 0 HR, 1 RBI, 8 R and 3 SB, so he’s obviously not fully there yet but he’s showing signs.  The speed is finally coming out, the real question is where the power has gone.  Considering his 4.9% HR/FB, compared to rates of 9.7% and 12.4% the previous two seasons, we have to think that the numbers will ultimately be there.  Don’t sell low or give up hope, these few days could easily just be the start of things to come.

 

4) Rubby De La Rosa returns to the Majors…
He went 5.0 innings against the White Sox allowing 3 ER on 6 H and 0 BB, striking out 3, and was burnt by home runs from Jose Abreu (2-4, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R) and Conor Gillaspie (2-4, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 R).  The control is the key, with more strikeout potential, though he has no allowed 5 HR in 6 starts in the Major Leagues.  Of course, he also owns a 47.6% groundball rate in the Majors this season and 50.9% in the minors.  Home runs should not be an issue and if he continues to avoid walks he should be successful.  With the youth movement on in Boston (the promotion of Christian Vazquez, who went 0-3, shows that), look for the Red Sox to try and open up a rotation spot for him.  Keep a close eye on him and, in deeper formats, he’s worth owning immediately.

 

5) Dillon Gee returns from the DL and doesn’t miss a beat…
He allowed 1 ER on 6 H and 1 BB, striking out 4, over 7.0 IP in his first start since 5/10 to improve to 4-1 with a 2.56 ERA and 1.06 WHIP.  While he does offer solid control (2.41 BB/9 this season, 2.85 for his career), his limited strikeout rate is down even further this season (5.58 K/9) and he’s benefited from a ton of luck (.233 BABIP, 84.8% strand rate).  In other words, there’s a good chance that he regresses as the season goes on.  It’s not really worth the investment at this point.

 

6) Is Kevin Kiermaier for real…
He went 4-4 with 1 HR, 4 RBI and 1 R yesterday, putting him at .297 with 8 HR, 21 RBI, 16 R and 1 SB.  It hasn’t just been the power, either, as he’s added 9 doubles and 4 triples, giving him a .574 SLG.  He’s never shown this type of power in the minor leagues, with 15 HR in 1,649 career PA and a SLG of .398 (though it was .434 at Double-A and .438 at Triple-A).  There’s a lot of luck behind his numbers, with a .324 BABIP and 14.4% line drive rate, and there’s also a good chance that his power implodes (20.5% HR/FB, 50.5% groundball rate).  Use him while he’s hot, but be prepared to quickly move on.

 

7) Oscar Taveras moved up to the second spot in the order…
He’s currently not playing every day, at least not yet, but as Allen Craig (0-4) struggles we could be heading in that direction.  Taveras went 2-5 yesterday and is now 4-9 over the past two days.  At least he’s starting to show signs, as he is making contact overall (17.4% strikeout rate).  He needs to do a better job of hitting the ball with authority (14.8% line drive rate, 13.0% since returning in July) and avoid burying the ball into the ground (53.7% groundball rate, 60.9% in July).  Hopefully the past two days is the start of things to come, but we’ll have to wait and see.  Given his upside he’s worth stashing, but he’s not a must use option quite yet.

 

8) The struggles of Yu Darvish continue…
He allowed 6 ER on 10 H and 0 BB, striking out 8, over 6.0 IP against the Astros (a team that he has always dominated) and has now allowed 10 ER over his past 11.0 IP against the Astros and Mets.  In fact, he’s now allowed 4+ ER in five of his past seven starts, sending his ERA from 2.08 to a still respectable 2.97.  Overall there’s nothing concerning in the numbers, with an 11.08 K/9, 3.04 BB/9, .323 BABIP and 77.3% strand rate.  In fact, his July line drive rate is just 18.8% and it’s been home runs (1.64 HR/9) that have been the biggest issue.  While it’s frustrating to see your ace taking some lumps, things should only get better from here.

 

9) It’s a tale of two starters in the Twins/Mariners game…
For Roenis Elias, it was another disaster as he allowed 7 R (6 earned) on 7 H and 3 BB, striking out 3, over 3.1 IP.  He’s now allowed 16 ER over 14.1 IP in his past three starts and you have to wonder if the league is catching up to him as well as the workload starting to wear him down.  There’s upside value, but at this point he’s hard to trust.

For Kyle Gibson, he got himself back on track by tossing 6.0 shutout innings allowing 7 H and 1 BB, striking out 3.  As we’ve said before, the lack of strikeouts is highly concerning (4.72 K/9) and while there is upside he’s not going to be anything more than an inconsistent backend option until he discovers it.

 

10) Jason Hammel’s first start for Oakland doesn’t go as planned…
He allowed 3 R (2 earned) on 6 H and 3 BB, striking out 3, over 5.0 IP.  There was nothing overly unlucky in his numbers while with the Cubs, though you knew the move to the AL could lead to a lower strikeout rate (8.61 in Chicago) and regressed control (1.90 in Chicago).  While he struggled in Baltimore last season, home runs (1.42 HR/9) were the biggest issue.  That shouldn’t be a factor in Oakland, so don’t panic off this first start.  While he could regress, he should remain a viable option.

 

Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs, Minor League Central, Baseball Reference, MLB.com

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