10 Stories From 07/12/14 Box Scores: Jimmy Nelson’s Inauspicious Return, Bradley Jr. Finally Hitting & More

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

Andrew McCutchen continued his push for a second consecutive MVP, going 3-5 with 2 HR, 2 RBI and 3 RBI, with the first HR being a game-tying shot in the ninth and the other a go ahead bomb in the 11th.  Who else enjoyed noteworthy days?  Let’s take a look:

 

1) Shane Greene impresses yet again…
Taking on the Orioles in Baltimore Greene was fantastic, tossing 7.1 shutout innings allowing 4 H and 2 BB, striking out 9.  He’s now made two starts, allowing 2 ER on 8 H and 2 BB over 13.1 IP.  It’s easy to get excited by those numbers, especially when he also generated 10 groundballs in yesterday’s outing.  Of course how can we ignore a 4.48 ERA and 1.58 WHIP at Triple-A this season, and minor league career marks of 4.39 and 1.48?  There was some poor luck behind the numbers, with a .362 BABIP this season, but he owns a mark of .343 since 2011 so it may not be as unlucky as it seems.  While there appears to be a little bit of upside (7.73 K/9, 3.53 BB/9, 47.7% groundball rate in ’14), he’s the type of pitcher to use while he’s hot but not to get too attached too.  There’s a blowup coming, and it’ll probably come sooner rather than later.

 

2) It was not a pretty performance, despite a W, for Mike Minor…
This is one of the reasons that the wins category is such a frustrating one.  Minor got the W, but it was due to the struggles of Edwin Jackson (3.2 IP, 9 ER, 7 H, 4 BB, 3 K) and not because he pitched well.  Minor allowed 6 ER on 11 H and 1 BB, striking out 5, over 6.0 IP against the Cubs to “improve” to 3-5 with a 4.86 ERA and 1.49 WHIP on the season.  He entered the day with an 8.61 K/9, though that number is slightly inflated due to a 7.5% SwStr%, and 2.68 BB/9.  The problem has been an inflated line drive rate, at 24.8% (after a 22.1% mark in ’13), and home runs, with a 1.63 HR/9.  While we would expect him to correct the latter, it’s hardly a guarantee.  There’s plenty of potential, making him worth owning, though for now you may want to simply keep him stashed on your bench until he fixes the issues.

 

3) The long awaited return of Jimmy Nelson doesn’t go according to plan…
We’ve all waited for him to get his opportunity in the Brewers rotation and it finally came, but he simply didn’t have it against the Cardinals.  Lasting just 4.1 innings, Nelson was tagged for 8 R (6 earned) on 8 H and 2 BB, striking out 5.  The big blow came from Kolten Wong, who continued his unexpected power surge (1-5, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 R).  After thriving at Triple-A, with a 1.46 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, 9.24 K/9, 2.59 BB/9 and 57.3% goundball rate, we can only hope that the Brewers give him more than one start to prove that he can help the spiraling ball club.  He’s worth owning in all formats, as the upside is there to be a must use option down the stretch, despite the rough outing.

 

4) Has Jackie Bradley Jr. finally figured it out…
We’ve long been waiting for him to get things going, and after going 2-4 with 1 R yesterday he now has a modest three-game hitting streak (5-11 with 1 RBI and 3 R) and is 12-31 with 1 RBI, 7 R and 1 SB in his past nine games.  With Shane Victorino closing in on a return, Bradley has certainly picked the right time to finally show signs of life.  Of course, he’s still hitting just .227 with 1 HR and 6 SB in 269 AB on the season, with 82 K vs. 26 BB.  It may take more than this, though time will tell.  Considering he entered the day with a .317 BABIP and 19.3% line drive rate, there may not be much reason to hold out hope.

 

5) Could the Twins’ Eduardo Escobar hold fantasy appeal…
Who, you ask?  Escobar is currently manning shortstop for the Twins and, after going 2-5 with 1 HR, 1 RBI and 2 R, is hitting .263 with 3 HR, 19 RBI, 29 R and 1 SB over 251 AB.  He never had more than 6 HR or 20 SB in a minor league season, to go along with a .269 average, so what exactly is there to catch our eye?  He has ripped 24 doubles already this season and entered play with a 26.8% line drive rate, so there appears to be some sort of an opportunity for him to produce (especially if he hits in the second spot, as he did yesterday).  He’s obviously nothing more than a low-end option for those in the deepest of formats, but he also isn’t a player to simply ignore.

 

6) Charlie Morton struggles in final start of first half…
He allowed 5 ER on 6 H and 2 BB, striking out 6, over 6.0 IP and allowed a pair of home runs, including one from Todd Frazier (2-4, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 R).  Morton finishes at 5-9 with a 3.32 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and 100 K, and there’s a lot to like in his underlying metrics.  Maybe the strikeouts regress a bit (7.54 K/9), but the control is solid enough (3.17 BB/9), he generates groundballs (54.8%) and there’s no obvious good luck (.274 BABIP, 70.2% strand rate) though a 21.2% line drive rate could indicate a few more slight bumps.  He’s not an ace, but with a good team behind him he is worth owning as a back end option moving forward.

 

7) Don’t consider Jesse Chavez “safe” quite yet…
While the additions of Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel have not yet cost him a rotation spot, that’s not to say that it still won’t.  Chavez took a bit of a beating last night, allowing 3 ER on 10 H and 2 BB, striking out 6, over 5.2 IP.  While he pitched well in his last outing, he has now struggled in three of his past four starts 12 ER on 28 H and 11 BB over 21.2 IP (and that includes 6.0 shutout innings).  Oakland is in win now mode, obviously, and it looks like they are going to get pressure from both the Angels and Mariners inside their own division.  Chavez has upside and is worth holding onto, just have a Plan B in place just in case things continue to go south.

 

8) Jason Castro delivers a big day…
It’s been a disappointing first half, but he made a push yesterday going 2-4 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 1 R, with the other hit being a triple.  He’s hitting .231 with 8 HR and 36 RBI, though he has continued to hit the ball relatively hard this season (21.7% line drive rate compared to 24.4% for his career) and the power has still been evident (12.3% HR/FB).  The problem has been his strikeout rate, which currently sits at 29.1%.  However, that number has been trending down, with a 27.2% mark in June and 26.9% thus far in July.  While he’s not going to hit .276, as he did last season, the potential is there to further improve.  Don’t completely give up hope on him, as he should be a productive option in the second half.

 

9) Wade Miley finishes the first half strong…
He tossed 7.0 shutout innings allowing 4 H and 3 BB, striking out 4, against the San Francisco Giants.  While his 4.18 ERA isn’t impressive, he also has a 1.24 WHIP and 118 K.  Over his last three starts he’s allowed 3 ER on 13 H and 4 BB, striking out 22, over 21.2 IP.  His strikeouts are up this season, but so is his SwStr% (10.2% vs. 8.6% for his career), part of which can be due to an increased usage of his slider (25.1%).  When coupled with a 2.69 BB/9 and 48.8% groundball rate, there’s a lot to like.  As we’ve said before, he’s a pitcher worth owning in all formats for the second half.

 

10) Could Cody Asche soon be replaced…
The Phillies appear to be looking towards the future, and while Cody Asche could be part of those plans it is hardly a guarantee so going 1-5 with 1 R and 4 K certainly doesn’t help his cause.  It’s especially true when the Phillies have Maikel Franco at Triple-A, another player they are going to want evaluate for 2015 and beyond.  While there has been talk of Franco getting a look at 1B, that’s not to say that third isn’t also an option.  Asche is hitting .249 with 6 HR, 28 RBI and 22 R over 209 AB this season, and his biggest issue has been consistently driving the ball into the ground (48.7% groundball rate).  That number is down in July (41.4%), but the damage may have already been done.

 

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

4 comments

  1. Paul says:

    If you had to pick one of Nelson, Miley and Locke for the rest of the season, who would you pick?

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      Assuming Nelson is up, I’d probably say Nelson, Miley and Locke (partly because Nelson has more upside for W). The top two could really go either way, but it’s def. one of those two for me.

  2. Bryan says:

    In the June article Jacob deGrom enjoys another strong start, you felt “Don’t grow too attached.”
    After today, are you warming up to deGrom as a SP? How does he compare to other rookie SPs like Nelson, Walker, Haney, Gusman, etc.

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      I am warming to him, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t going to be risk in him moving forward. I’m going to be covering him in detail in tomorrow’s column.

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