10 Stories From 08/21/2014 Box Scores: Has Hughes Become An Ace, G. Gonzalez Shows Signs & More

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

There were some impressive pitching performances across baseball yesterday afternoon, highlighted by the matchup between David Price (8.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 H, 0 BB, 9 K) and Alex Cobb (7.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 H, 2 BB, 6 K, W).  How would you like to be Price who allowed one hit and took the loss, thanks to an unearned run?  Let’s take a look at all the rest of the action from yesterday:

 

1) Has Phil Hughes finally developed into a fantasy ace…
He went 7.0 innings against the Indians allowing 1 ER on 5 H and 0 BB, striking out 8, to improve to 14-8 with a 3.65 ERA and 1.19 WHIP on the season.  He’s now allowed 4 ER over his past four starts (27.1 IP), winning all four of those outings.  The biggest difference has been the reduction in home runs, entering the day with a 0.63 HR/9, though that’s not to say that we should take these numbers as a lock to be maintained.  While he’s always been a control artist, sooner or later we have to expect a regression from the 0.85 BB/9 he entered the day with.  Of course, you could also argue that his .343 BABIP, 23.6% line drive rate and 71.1% strand rate should all improve as well.  The bottom line?  As long as he’s keeping the ball in the ballpark, he’s going to have success.  In that regard there’s no reason for significant concern, so consider him a good start for the remainder of the season and beyond.

 

2) Should we be buying Zach Walters…
He was discussed a lot when the Indians acquired him at the Trade Deadline in exchange for Asdrubal Cabrera, but the Indians decided to first give him time at Triple-A.  Now in the Majors and operating as the DH, he’s been crushing the baseball.  He went 1-3 with 1 HR, 1 RBI and 1 R, giving him home runs in back-to-back games and four of his past seven.  He’s 7-33 since being recalled, however, and is striking out a lot (14 K).  It is a concern and would make us a little bit hesitant to depend on him.  The strikeouts were going to be a concern, with a 24.0% mark in the minors since 2011, though there’s no questioning the power upside.  He also has been hitting the ball relatively hard (23.8% line drive rate in the Majors entering the day, 21.7% in the minors this season), so if he can reduce the strikeouts he should get his average to where he doesn’t hurt you.  In deeper formats, that makes him worth investing in.

 

3) What should we do with Wil Myers…
He struggled yesterday, going 0-3 with 3 K against David Price and is now 0-6 with 4 K since coming off the DL.  Of course he was having issues even before he got injured, hitting .227 with 5 HR in 198 AB.  His strikeout rate wasn’t awful (23.2%), but he was pounding the ball into the ground (46.9%) or popping it up (9.8% IFFB).  What makes us think that there’s suddenly going to be a major improvement?  Before you point to last season’s .293 average, remember it came courtesy of a .362 BABIP.  That’s not to say that there isn’t upside or that he isn’t worth owning, because he is.  Just keep your expectations in check, especially since there’s no guarantee that the power is there after missing time with a broken wrist.

 

4) Did Gio Gonzalez actually show a flash of his old form…
He had to settle for a no decision, but Gonzalez finally appeared to get things back on track.  Taking on the Diamondbacks he tossed 7.0 shutout innings allowing 4 H and 3 BB, striking out 6.  He also did a good job generating groundballs, with 9 (he had 5 fly ball outs).  Obviously it’s going to take more than one outing, but it is encouraging after he entered the day with a 5.46 ERA and 1.65 WHIP in the second half.  He had struggled with his control (4.25 BB/9), while also being hit relatively hard (24.1% line drive rate).  Even with those elevated numbers, however, a .400 BABIP and 65.1% strand rate are extremely unlucky.  This should hopefully get him back on track, and with his next start coming against the Phillies he should be considered a viable option in all formats.

 

5) The Angels get a needed gem from Matt Shoemaker…
Obviously he’s not Garrett Richards, who we learned may not even be ready for the start of 2015.  However the Angels needed something and got it from Shoemaker last night as he tossed 7.2 shutout innings allowing 1 H and 1 BB, striking out 9, to improve to 12-4 with a 3.56 ERA and 1.12 WHIP.  He now owns a 1.65 BB/9 on the season, and with a 2.3 mark in his minor league career it’s obvious that he does have control.  He’s also generated an 8.86 K/9 courtesy of an 11.3% SwStr%.  Throw in a .297 BABIP, 74.4% strand rate and 20.9% line drive rate and there’s no reason to think that he can’t maintain his current numbers.  Obviously a 4.52 ERA and 1.36 WHIP in his minor league career paint a different picture, but until something changes keep running him out there.

 

6) Who is Phil Gosselin…
He appears to be platooning with Tommy La Stella at second base for the Braves, slotting into the lineup against left-handed pitchers.  Obviously that doesn’t necessarily mean a lot of opportunities, but after going 2-5 with 1 R yesterday (while hitting second in the order) he’s hitting .293 with 1 HR, 2 RBI, 6 R and 1 SB in 41 AB.  Is there any upside or a chance that he overtakes La Stella for full time duties?  In 635 PA at Triple-A he’s hitting .315 with 7 HR and 7 SB, so outside of average and possibly runs there’s little to get excited about.  His Triple-A average in 2014 (.344) also came courtesy of a .344 BABIP and he owns a 6.6% walk rate in the minors since ’11.  In other words, don’t bother.

 

7) Can Justin Ruggiano still develop into the sleeper we hoped for…
He was hitting fourth yesterday, with Starlin Castro out of the lineup, going 2-3 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 1 R, putting him at .283 with 6 HR and 28 RBI in 223 AB.  The biggest problem is playing time, as he’s not playing regularly as it is and the team figures to recall Jorge Soler for September.  Of course, he also owns a 27.7% strikeout rate and .375 BABIP (despite a 19.9% line drive rate).  While there’s upside, it’s likely not going to be for more than a short-term spurt and he could ultimately find himself on the bench.

 

8) Justin Turner continues to produce…
Filling in for Juan Uribe at 3B, Turner went 2-3 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 1 R yesterday, giving him a five-game hitting streak (7-17 with 1 HR, 5 RBI, 3 R and 1 SB).  We all know what Turner is, but is it possible he becomes more than a short-term fill-in down the stretch?  Uribe was hitting .293 with 6 HR in 304 AB prior to getting hurt, while Turner is at .314 with 4 HR in 220 AB.  He’s also out slugging Uribe, .441 to .411.  Obviously defense is going to play a role, but with Turner’s ability to play across the diamond he’s worth considering in deeper formats, both for now and the potential that he gets regular AB down the stretch (just continue to monitor him).

 

9) Rubby De La Rosa pitches fairly well in defeat…
He allowed 2 ER on 8 H and 3 BB, striking out 8, over 6.2 IP against the Angels to fall to 4-5 with a 3.69 ERA and 1.42 WHIP.  His control has started to waiver a bit, with at least 3 BB in each of his past four starts leading to a 4.94 BB/9 in August.  There has also been some poor luck, with a .371 BABIP, but that’s not of as much concern.  As we’ve repeatedly said, control is going to be his ultimate key.  It’s always been the biggest concern and, while it looked like he had overcome the issue, it’s rearing it’s head again.  He’s worth owning, but if he continues to issue this many walks he’s likely going to struggle.

 

10) Brandon McCarthy puts on a clinic…
Dallas Keuchel, who started for Houston, was no slouch (8.0 IP, 3 ER, 7 H, 0 BB, 5 K), but the numbers paled in comparison to McCarthy’s who tossed a complete game shutout allowing 4 H and 0 BB, striking out 8.  He also generated 11 groundballs while throwing first pitch strikes to 24 of the 31 batters he faced.  McCarthy has been a much hyped pitcher all season long, as the underlying metrics indicated significant success, but it took a move to New York to finally realize it.  Overall he entered the day with an 8.02 K/9, 1.59 BB/9 and 54.3% groundball rate, with home runs (16.8% HR/FB) being the biggest issue.  Considering the groundball rate you wouldn’t expect that, even in Yankee Stadium, so continue to view him as a solid option in all formats for the remainder of the season.

 

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

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