10 Stories From 08/18/2014 Box Scores: Has Starling Marte Finally Emerged, Roenis Elias Returns & More

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

It was a small set of games last night, but that doesn’t mean that there weren’t ample performance worth discussing.  In addition to the return of Mookie Betts (1-3, 1 R), let’s take a look at some of the important notes from yesterday’s action:

 

1) Roenis Elias struggles with his control in his return…
Freshly back up from Triple-A, it took Elias 90 pitches to get through 4.0 innings as he allowed 1 ER on 3 H and 6 BB, striking out 4.  Control has never been a major issue for him, with a 3.1 BB/9 in the minor leagues and 3.50 in the Majors (even with yesterday’s struggles), so we can write that off as a fluke.  Overall he continues to show that he’s worth utilizing, with believable luck metrics (.285 BABIP, 71.1% strand rate) and a solid strikeout rate (8.18 K/9).  Of course, the team does have Taijuan Walker waiting in the wings and if he posts another one or two outings like this he’s going to be removed.  The Mariners are in a fight for a playoff spot and they need to give themselves their best chance to win.  Keep a close eye on him, but consider him worth using.

 

2) Ender Inciarte is starting to show his value…
He’s been playing regularly at the top of the lineup, but he’s finally starting to show that there’s value in him.  He went 1-4 with 1 SB yesterday and now has 3 SB over his past 7 games.  He’s also on a 17 game hitting streak, going 24 for 75 with 1 HR, 5 RBI, 11 R and 3 SB.  He stole 44 bases in ’12 and 42 in ’13, so the upside is clearly there in that department and he’s finally showing signs of running a bit more in the Majors (9 SB on the season).  Given his speed you’d also expect better than a .299 BABIP, so buy in now before it’s too late.

 

3) Has Starling Marte finally turned the corner…
He went 3-4 with 2 HR, 2 RBI and 2 R yesterday, putting him at .271 with 8 HR, 42 RBI, 53 R and 23 SB on the season.  We all knew that there was some power and ample speed, but the average was going to be the biggest concern.  He has benefitted from a .363 BABIP, though his speed and a 23.1% line drive rate doesn’t make it completely unrealistic.  The real key, however, is the strikeout rate.  In the first half of the season he carried a 27.7% mark, but since the All-Star Break he has that down to 17.9% leading to a .351 mark (he hit .256 in the first half).  He’s obviously not a .350 hitter, but he posted a 19.4% strikeout rate in the minors since ’11 and an improvement there is not impossible.  If he can continue making contact at this type of rate, he’s going to be a force to be reckoned with.

 

4) Brandon Workman showing why W not always telling…
He allowed 2 ER on 6 H and 2 BB, striking out 5, over 7.0 yesterday and owns a 4.26 ERA and 1.25 WHIP in the Majors.  Of course, he also has a miserable 1-7 record to show for it.  The luck metrics are a bit split, with a 66.3% strand rate but also a .254 BABIP (courtesy of a 20.9% line drive rate).  In other words, it’s hard to expect a dramatic improvement in the ERA department.  He’s also struggled a bit with his control (3.49 BB/9) and strikeouts (6.85 K/9), despite marks of 2.2 and 8.5 over his minor league career.  He’s simply not generating many swings and misses (7.6% SwStr%), which is a major issue.  While there’s upside, it’s impossible to trust him for the remainder of ’14.

 

5) Has Steve Pearce rediscovered things…
He fell off the map after a poor July (.231 with 2 HR), and could even be sitting on your waiver wire once again.  He’s obviously not quite as good as he showed in May/June, but he went 3-5 with 1 RBI yesterday and is now 5-10 with 1 HR and 2 RBI over his past two games.  Obviously that’s not enough to run to the wire to pick him up and we need to be extremely careful.  It’s possible that he’s started swinging for the fences a bit, with a 52.9% fly ball rate in August.  If he maintains that, the average could prove to be a significant issue (line drive rates of 17.7% and 17.6% over the past two months).  He could prove to be a plug and play, short-term, but he also could ultimately be a disaster.  It all depends on your need.

 

6) Trevor May struggles with his control once again…
He allowed 3 ER on 7 H and 4 BB, striking out 1, over 4.2 IP against the Royals and has walked 6 batters with 3 K over 7.0 IP as a starter in the Majors.  He owned a 3.49 BB/9 at Triple-A this season and a 4.4 mark coming up through the minors, so seeing that be an issue is no surprise.  Failing to generate strikeouts is a bit concerning, but it is a small sample size so we don’t want to read too much into it.  The bottom line is going to be throwing strikes, and if he can’t continue to do it he’s not going to remain in the rotation.  At this point he’s a pitcher that we need to stay away from in all formats for 2014.

 

7) Oswaldo Arcia homers once again…
He went 2-4 with 1 HR, 1 RBI and 2 R, giving him home runs in back-to-back games and 12 HR on the season.  Of course, he’s also hitting .230 on the year so it’s not all positive.  The obvious problem is his strikeout rate, currently sitting at 30.5%, with the mark actually increasing since the All-Star Break (32.6%).  While he’s hit the ball hard overall, with a 23.2% line drive rate, and we’d expect better than a .296 BABIP, the strikeouts are going to keep him from hitting for a strong average.  The power is nice, but he’s still not going to be a highly recommended option outside of the deepest of formats.

 

8) Mike Leake not terribly impressive, but is he worth owning…
He allowed 4 ER on 8 H and 1 BB, striking out 5, over 7.0 IP and has now allowed 9 ER over his past 12.0 IP.  Overall he owns a 3.65 ERA and 1.26 WHIP, so it’s tough to be overly critical.  In fact, he’s showing a career best groundball rate (53.7%) and increased strikeouts (6.98 K/9) to go along with his always impressive control (2.03 BB/9).  He’s just generating significantly more swings and misses, with a 7.0% SwStr%, so it’s hard to say that the strikeout number is going to continue despite his consistency thus far (7.29 K/9 since the All-Star Break).  If he can maintain his current mark, he’s going to be a successful pitcher and worth using in all formats for the remainder of the season and beyond.

 

9) Is it time to believe in Vidal Nuno…
He was strong against the Nationals, allowing 2 ER on 5 H and 2 BB, striking out 7, over 7.0 IP but had to settle for a no decision.  He has shown more strikeouts since the trade (38 K over 46.0 IP) to go along with a 3.72 ERA and 1.11 WHIP.  He has always shown great control (1.7 BB/9 over his minor league career), including a 2.1 mark in 20 starts at Double-A.  Remember he spent time working out of the bullpen coming up through the minors, but he did have a 7.9 K/9 at Double-A so what he’s showing in the NL is not unreasonable.  He has been plagued by the long ball in the Majors (21 HR over 124.0 IP), something that is likely going to continue.  He does own value in deeper formats, but is hardly a must own option.

 

10) Kyle Hendricks impresses again, but is it for real…
Of course the outing came against the Mets, who failed to hit all weekend against the Cubs, so you have to take things with a slight grain of salt.  That said he still allowed 1 ER on 3 H and 2 BB, striking out 3, over 7.0 IP to improve to 5-1 with a 1.66 ERA and 0.97 WHIP on the season.  He entered the day with a fastball that averaged 88.0 mph and hasn’t posted an impressive strikeout rate (29 K over 48.2 IP).  While he has shown control (1.94 BB/9) and groundballs (51.2%), which are strong, we all know he’s not this good given his .252 BABIP (22.0% line drive rate) and 85.0% strand rate entering the day.  While he’s worth owning, the lack of strikeouts and the impending regression are extremely worrisome for the remainder of the season.  Keep that in mind before simply penciling him into your lineup.

 

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

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