10 Stories From 07/23/14 Box Scores: Liriano Worth Buying, Quintana Emerging & More

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

Aaron Sanchez made his Major League debut out of the bullpen, tossing 2.0 perfect innings with 2 K (unfortunately there’s little chance he makes an impact in 2014).  Mark Reynolds showed off his power, going 3-4 with 2 HR, 3 RBI and 2 R, but of course he is still hitting just .207.  Bartolo Colon flirted with perfection, ultimately allowing 2 ER on 3 H and 1 BB, striking out 5, over 7.1 IP against the Mariners.


1) Jose Quintana continues to get the job done…
It wasn’t necessarily his “best” performance, considering he managed just 3 K, but he allowed 1 R on 7 H and 2 BB over 7.0 IP and nearly matched James Shields pitch for pitch (7.0 IP, 1 ER, 6 H, 1 BB, 7 K).  Overall he owns a 3.15 ERA and 1.20 WHIP, but has been even better since June 19.  In seven starts since that date he is just 2-0, but owns a 1.72 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 9.34 K/9 and 2.48 BB/9 over 47.2 IP.  Granted, he has benefited from a .256 BABIP, but he has kept the ball in the ballpark (five straight starts without allowing a HR).  Also, his overall .300 BABIP and 22.2% line drive rate aren’t outrageous and his 68.1% strand rate is unlucky.  There will likely be bumps along the way, but he’s thriving right now and is a must own and must use in all formats.


2) Trevor Bauer solid again in defeat…
He was saddled with the loss, having allowed 3 ER on 6 H and 2 BB, striking out 7, over 6.0 IP against the Twins.  Over his past four starts he now owns a 2.86 ERA and 1.27 WHIP while striking out 28 batters over 25.2 IP.  They are impressive numbers, especially since he’s been plagued by a below average .348 BABIP as well.  He’s clearly found his strikeout stuff and control, entering the day with an 8.58 K/9 and 3.20 BB/9 overall.  As we’ve said before, with Bauer having as much upside as any of the current crop of starting pitching prospect filtering into the Majors and already having taken his lumps, now is the time to grab him.  He has the potential to make an impact over the final two months of the season in all formats.


3) Jorge De La Rosa has found his groove…
He was spectacular yesterday, allowing 2 R (1 earned) on 8 H and 0 BB, striking out 11, over 7.1 IP.  He also generated 9 groundballs vs. 2 fly balls.  Over his past four starts he’s allowed 5 ER over 25.1 IP, though this was the first time he had shown strikeout stuff (4 K or fewer in each of his previous 7 starts).  He wasn’t a big source of strikeouts last season either (6.01 K/9), though a 9.1% SwStr% this season (9.2% last season) does justify a bit of a better mark.  He also would benefit from a move outside of Coors Field and his name is certainly going to be bandied about in trade rumors.  Keep a close eye on the situation as, depending on where he lands, he could prove to be a viable option over the final two months.


4) It was an inauspicious return for Taijuan Walker…
He only allowed 2 ER on 2 H, with 5 K, over 5.0 IP against the Mets.  However, he walked 6 batters (as well as hitting Ruben Tejada) and now has 13 BB over 15.0 IP in three Major League starts.  Control has always been a question, though it’s never been this bad with a 3.5 BB/9 overall in the minors and a 3.8 mark at Triple-A.  Regardless of his stuff, if he can’t consistently throw strikes he is going to have a tough time excelling in the Major Leagues.  It shouldn’t come as a surprise that he was sent back to Triple-A after the game and it could be some time before he returns (barring a trade, as has been speculated).


5) Is this why Francisco Liriano is worth owning…
He was tremendous against the Dodgers, allowing 1 ER on 4 H and 2 BB, striking out 4, over 7.0 IP to earn the W.  Overall he owns a 4.18 ERA and 1.43 WHIP, though has been strong for two consecutive starts (1 ER on 7 H and 5 BB, striking out 12, over 12.0 IP).  Even over the entire season he’s shown strikeouts (9.48 K/9) and groundballs (52.3%) but has struggled with a career worst HR/FB (13.2%) and his control (4.79 BB/9).  The latter is going to be the biggest question, but if he can figure it out (and there is hope) he is going to continue to thrive and be the pitcher he was a year ago (3.02 ERA, 1.22 WHIP).  He’s worth buying in all formats.


6) Darin Ruf gets start at first base…
He went 0-2, but the impact of this could be significant as it meant Ryan Howard was planted securely on the bench.  Is this heading towards a platoon situation?  It’s not impossible, but that’s something we are going to discuss in detail in the next day or two.  As for Ruf, he showed significant power two years ago (41 total HR between Triple-A and the Majors), though it’s paled in comparison ever since.  He did hit 21 HR last season, but was .265 with 1 HR in 83 AB at Triple-A this season as his HR/OFB fell to a miniscule 2.9% (27.1% during his breakout season).  There obviously is power potential, but he needs to start showing it once again and will at least start off on the short side of the platoon.  He’s worth monitoring, but right now just from a distance.


7) Shane Victorino hits atop the lineup…
He was only there because Brock Holt was finally given a day off, but it’s not impossible that he rises up the batting order before long.  He went 1-5 with 1 R and now has hits in all four games since returning from the DL (7-16 with 3 R).  He’s shown a good command of the strike zone, with 2 BB, but he hasn’t walked and hasn’t been hitting for any type of power (just 1 double over that span).  We all know he’s been a major disappointment this season, but he still owns potential in both the power and speed departments and finally appears to be healthy.  If you are looking to bolster your outfield at a fraction of the cost, he’s a player worth kicking the tires on because you should be able to acquire him for pennies on the dollar.


8) Oscar Taveras actually gets a start…
It’s become shocking when he’s in the lineup, as the Cardinals have the top prospect on the Major League roster to be sitting on the bench most of the time.  Since July 10 he’s started just three games and, after going 1-3 yesterday, is 3-14 with 1 RBI and 1 R over that span.  You have to start to wonder why he’s on the roster if he’s going to play, instead of getting regular reps at Triple-A.  The team is giving Allen Craig a lot of rope, yet he’s just getting worse and worse (.146 in July).  There’s no reason for Taveras not to be getting an opportunity to play and hopefully the team finally awards him that chance.  He’s worth stashing in all formats.


9) Tsuyoshi Wada struggles in his return to the Majors…
The Cubs continue to try and fill the voids in their rotation after the trade of Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel, but Wada didn’t help his cause to permanently fill one of them.  Taking on the San Diego Padres he allowed 5 ER on 5 H and 4 BB, striking out 4, over 4.0 IP.  He had shown significantly better control at Triple-A this season, with a 2.22 BB/9, so we have to hope that this is just a blip on the radar.  At the same time, is there any guarantee Wada gets another opportunity in the immediate future?  Time will tell, but until he shows he can consistently do it in the Majors he isn’t going to be worth the risk.


10) Christian Yelich is on fire…
He went 2-3 with 1 RBI and 1 SB yesterday, his third consecutive two-hit game.  Since the All-Star Break he’s 9-23 with 2 RBI, 5 R and 1 SB and overall in July he’s hitting .360 with 2 HR, 9 RBI, 14 R and 2 SB.  There is no questioning his potential overall, though we can argue that the power is going to slow down significantly (17.8% HR/FB, 18.3% fly ball rate).  He also hasn’t been stealing as many bases as we’d like to see (12 SB), which is going to limit his overall appeal.  Is he worth owning and having in your lineup?  Absolutely, just don’t overvalue him.


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

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  1. Mike says:

    Professor who will have the better career? Spinger or Polonco? As always you thoughts are appreciated.

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      A little too early to tell, but both should be stars. Springer is going to hit for more power, but is always going to be a risk to hit for a sub par average. Polanco, meanwhile, should produce across the board.

      I’d lean Springer, by a hair, but it really could go eithe way.

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