10 Stories From 08/15/2014 Box Scores: Young Starters On Display (Wheeler, Nelson, Paxton) & More

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

It was just another ho hum, dominant performance for Corey Kluber (7.2 IP, 1 ER, 5 H, 2 BB, 10 K) though he settled for a no decision.  Alex Cobb dominated the Yankees, tossing 7.1 shutout innings with 8 K to earn the W.  Who else starred?  Who struggled?  Let’s take a look at everything we need to know from yesterday’s games:

 

1) James Paxton twirls another impressive outing…
Going 6.0 innings against the Tigers he allowed 1 ER on 5 H and 1 BB, striking out 2, to improve to 3-0 with a 2.20 ERA and 0.94 WHIP.  He entered the day with a career .218 BABIP and 88.9% strand rate, already telling us that there was a regression likely in his future.  That’s not to say that there isn’t upside, with a minor league K/9 of 9.70 since 2011, but his control is a potential issue (4.05 BB/9 since ’11).  Obviously he’s a must own option given the way he’s pitched and with is strikeout upside, we just need to be cautious moving forward.  There’s always the risk of a blowup from any young pitcher, especially one that has benefited from this much luck early in his career.  Keep that in mind before simply plugging him into your lineup.

 

2) Where is Houston’s outfield headed…
Both Robbie Grossman (3-5, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 R) and Jake Marisnick (2-5, 2 RBI, 1 R) enjoyed good games yesterday and will continue to see regular playing time while George Springer is on the DL.  Once he returns?  Money is on Marisnick due to a bit more upside, though the team could easily ride the hot hand.  Grossman is hitting .213 with 6 HR and 4 SB on the season, though he’s struggled with strikeouts (25.1%) for the second consecutive season (24.3%) and has had some poor luck (22.9% line drive rate, .273 BABIP).  He does have a bit of power and speed, but he’s likely not the long-term answer.  He can be streamed while hot, but Marisnick remains the better option to own in all formats.

 

3) Another impressive outing from Zack Wheeler…  Mostly…
Taking on the Cubs he got the W after allowing 2 ER on 4 H with 10 K over 6.2 IP.  The issue?  He once again struggled with his control, walking 4.  After it looked like he had corrected that issue, he’s now walked at least 3 in each of his past three outings (11 BB over 19.1 IP).  That obviously is a concern and something we need to keep a close eye on.  Overall he owns a 3.80 BB/9, helping to a mediocre 1.33 WHIP, and has been over 4.00 in three separate months (including a 5.12 thus far in August).  The strikeouts are obvious (8.88 K/9) and he also induces groundballs (52.9%), but he needs to find consistency in his control if he truly wants to become one of the better options in the league.

 

4) Will the A’s pull the plug on Jason Hammel…
He allowed 5 ER on 6 H and 1 BB, striking out 2, over 3.0 IP against the Braves but the biggest issue was the long ball.  He allowed 3 HR, with Justin Upton (1-4, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R), Evan Gattis (1-3, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R) and Freddie Freeman (1-4, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 R) all taking him deep.  He now owns a 6.75 ERA over 7 starts with Oakland and has allowed 9 HR over 32.0 IP (he allowed 10 HR over 108.2 IP with the Cubs prior to the trade).  Throw in the expected decline in strikeouts (5.91 K/9) and regression in control (4.78 BB/9) and it’s easy to understand why he’s struggling.  There’s still some upside, so he’s worth stashing, but if he’s removed from the rotation it will be easy to follow suit and cut bait.

 

5) Is Kole Calhoun living up to the hype…
He went 3-4 with 1 HR, 3 RBI and 1 R yesterday and is now hitting .294 with 13 HR, 37 RBI, 60 R and 4 SB over 327 AB.  He’s been even better of late, with a six game hitting streak (13-29 with 2 HR, 5 RBI, 3 R and 0 SB) including five multi-hit games.  While we envisioned a few more stolen bases, it’s hard to argue with the other numbers primarily hitting atop the Angels order.  With a .331 BABIP (courtesy of a 22.3% line drive rate) and a 14.9% HR/FB, there’s no reason to think that he can’t maintain these types of numbers.  As a potential five category contributor (though at this point it’s hard to count on speed), he remains a must own in all formats.

 

6) Nolan Arenado goes deep, but is he worth buying…
He went 2-4 with 1 HR, 1 RBI and 1 R, putting him at .288 with 12 HR and 47 RBI on the season.  He’s also settled into the cleanup spot, with both Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez lost for the season.  He continues to show a strong strikeout rate (12.3%) and hit the ball hard (21.4% line drive rate).  That could easily yield a mark better than his current .297 BABIP, meaning his average could improve (though we’d like to see him improve on a 13.4% IFFB).  He also has the potential for more power, with 28 doubles, so there’s a lot to like.  The bigger concern is his home road split, as he has 11 HR at home and just 1 on the road.  Last season he had 5 HR at home and 5 on the road, so there is hope there as well.  Plus he actually has a better average on the road, where he’s hitting .299.  Consider him a must add in all formats if you have an opportunity.

 

7) Jimmy Nelson steps up against LA…
It was a tough matchup, but Nelson pitched well allowing 2 ER on 6 H and 1 BB, striking out 4, over 6.0 IP.  Unfortunately for him it wasn’t enough to get a W, despite the Brewers ultimately winning, as Zack Greinke pitched well himself (5.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 H, 5 BB, 6 K).  Over his past five starts Nelson owns a 3.38 ERA and 1.09 WHIP, based on a realistic .287 BABIP.  Overall he owns a 7.29 K/9, though he was at 9.24 at Triple-A and has a 9.3% SwStr% so the upside is clearly there.  Control was always his biggest question, but he owns a 2.36 BB/9 in the Majors this season to go along with a 53.9% groundball rate.  In other words he has the perfect makeup and is a must own option in all formats.

 

8) A disastrous outing for Marcus Stroman…
He failed to get out of the first inning, allowing 5 ER on 5 H over 0.2 IP.  It’s the second time in his past three outings where he’s allowed 5 ER, though they were sandwiched around a gem against the Tigers (2 ER over 9.0 IP).  We all know he’s been tremendous since being recalled and also has unlimited upside, but this is a prime example of why it’s tough to trust rookie pitchers.  While there are exceptions to the rule (and we aren’t saying they aren’t worth owning), there’s a little bit of a higher risk for disaster.

 

9) Tommy Medica has an awful showing…
He’s been playing every day and should continue to see regular AB with Yonder Alonso on the DL, but it wouldn’t be shocking to see him get the day off today after he went 0-4 with 4 K yesterday (much of the damage came courtesy of Lance Lynn, who allowed 1 ER on 6 H and 1 BB, striking out 6, over 6.0 IP).  He’s now 1-13 over his past three games, with 7 K, and is also just 2 for his last 20.  Everyone goes through slumps and we’ve discussed his upside before, so don’t give up on him due to this rough stretch.  The AB are going to be there (though Yasmani Grandal could also see time at 1B) and so is the upside.  Keep him stashed until he finds things once again.

 

10) Has the time come to give up on Charlie Morton…
He allowed 5 ER on 7 H and 3 BB, striking out 3, over just 3.0 IP and has now allowed 10 ER over his past 8.0 IP.  Overall he continues to show a strong groundball rate (55.2%), but the control has only been average (3.13 BB/9) and the strikeouts could easily regress (7.05 K/9 courtesy of a 7.7% SwStr%).  In the second half both numbers have fallen (3.55 and 5.45, respectively), helping lead to a 5.73 ERA and 1.58 WHIP.  With Gerrit Cole working his way back and Nick Kingham waiting in the wings, is it a guarantee that he sticks in the rotation the rest of the way?  It’s not a guarantee for a team fighting for the playoffs and he should only be considered a matchup play, at best, right now.

 

Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs, Minor League Central

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