10 Stories From 08/25/2014 Box Scores: Is Domonic Brown Poised For a Breakout, Liriano Shines & More

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

Jake Odorizzi took a beating, allowing 8 ER over 4.0 IP courtesy of four home runs.  A.J. Burnett suddenly awoken, allowing 1 ER with 12 K against the red hot Washington Nationals.  Jeff Samardzija bounced back strong, albeit against the Astros, allowing 2 ER with 10 K over 8.0 IP.  Let’s take a look at the rest of the stories from yesterday’s games:

 

1) Is Domonic Brown finally primed to breakout…
Fantasy owners have been waiting…  And waiting…  And waiting…  Could it finally be ready to pay off?  He went 2-3 with 1 RBI yesterday and is 4-10 over his past three games (with just 1 K over that span).  It’s a small sample size, but it’s something he can potentially build on.  He’s quietly it the ball hard in August, with a 23.5% line drive rate, and continues to make good contact, with a 17.4% strikeout rate, yet hasn’t really seen the results yet (.214, 0 HR, 5 RBI over 42 AB).  However, it appears like he is turning the corner and these past few days could finally be the start of something.  It’s easy to write him off and ignore him, but now is the time to jump back in.  The cost is low and, if he starts struggling again, it’s easy to cut bait and move on.  He’s also shown that he can carry a team for a month before, so the payoff could ultimately be immense.

 

 

2) A dominant outing for Francisco Liriano…
Unfortunately he had to settle for a no decision.  He tossed 6.0 shutout innings allowing 4 H and 3 BB, striking out 8.  It was definitely a much needed bounce back, after he allowed 7 ER over 4.0 IP in his previous outing.  The overall numbers aren’t pretty (3.98 ERA, 1.34 WHIP), so it would’ve been easy to cut bait after his latest blowup.  However he now owns a 2.81 ERA and 1.11 WHIP in the second half, showing big strikeout stuff (10.13 K/9) and much improved control (3.38 BB/9).  Couple that with tremendous groundball stuff (59.8%) and realistic luck metrics (.271 BABIP, 72.8% strand rate) and there is no reason to doubt this resurgence.  Roll with him in all formats.

 

3) Is there still going to be value in Brock Holt…
He was playing shortstop yesterday, with Xander Bogaerts on the DL with a concussion, going 1-4 with 1 R and 2 SB.  With Rusney Castillo soon joining the mix his AB in the outfield will likely dry up, but he could easily overtake Will Middlebrooks (0-4 with 3 K) at 3B.  The question is, even with regular playing time is he worth it?  We knew he was going to regress, and he’s currently hitting .224 since the All-Star Break courtesy of a more realistic .287 BABIP (.395 in the first half).  He has little power and, while he stole a pair of bases yesterday, isn’t a tremendous source of speed either.  There’s value and he could raise his average again, given a 25.4% line drive rate in the second half, but he’s not going to be a tremendous option.  He’s viable, depending on your alternatives, but he’s hardly a must use.

 

4) Josh Donaldson breaks out in a big way…
Over his previous 8 games he had gone 3-27 without an extra base hit.  He hadn’t driven in a run since August 12 (when he hit 2 HR with 4 RBI).  Throw in minor health concerns and there was a lot of reasons for doubt.  However he went 3-4 with 3 RBI, 1 R and 1 SB yesterday, including a pair of doubles, putting a lot of our doubts at ease.  While he’s hitting .252 overall, it’s easy to imagine is 13.9% line drive rate rising significantly over the final few weeks (he was at 20.6% in ’13) and he also has plenty of power.  There should be a hot streak coming, something the A’s desperately need after the trade of Yoenis Cespedes.

 

5) Jarred Cosart silences the Angels…
He went 7.2 IP allowing 1 ER on 7 H and 1 BB, striking out 4, to improve to 2-1 with a 2.08 ERA since his trade to Miami.  At the time of the trade we noted that he could turn the corner in his new locale, especially given his groundball rate (55.3% overall this season, 55.1% in his Major League career).  While there has been a bit of luck, he’s also seen his strikeouts surprisingly decline in his small sample in the National League (4.15 K/9).  Over his minor league career he owned a 7.8 K/9, including an 8.7 mark at Triple-A, so there’s definitely more appeal there moving forward.  The big concern is his control, though it hasn’t been an issue in Miami (2.08 BB/9).  If he has figured it out, given the other potential skills, he could quickly develop into a must use option.

 

6) Could Alexi Amarista bring fantasy appeal…
He went 2-4 with 1 RBI yesterday and now has four two-hit games in his past six (8-19, 2 RBI, 1 R, 2 SB.  However, he hasn’t done much with the hits and you have to wonder if the potential is even there for him to be productive.  He owns a career SLG of .339, and how much upside is there playing half his games in San Diego.  He does have some speed, but it hasn’t translated to the Majors and he appears stuck hitting towards the bottom of the order (meaning fewer opportunities to run).  It’s been a nice stretch, but there’s nothing there.

 

7) Miles Mikolas stars for the Rangers…
Yesterday we learned that Shin-Soo Choo was lost for the season and Yu Darvish could follow suit.  It’s been a disastrous season for Texas, but they got an impressive outing yesterday as Mikolas tossed 8.0 shutout innings against the Mariners allowing 3 H and 1 BB, striking out 5.  Of course he owns a 6.44 ERA, so it’s hard to get excited.  Part of the problem has been simple bad luck, with a 57.5% strand rate, and he should be better than his current ERA.  He does have good control, as he’s shown throughout the minors (1.8 BB/9), but the strikeout upside is limited (6.8 K/9 at Triple-A) and he’s not a big-time groundball pitcher (40.2%).  There’s simply not enough here.

 

8) Is Mike Morse primed for a breakout…
He went 1-3 yesterday  and has now gone 9 straight games without a home run.  While he owns a .283 average overall, he’s also benefited from a .354 BABIP and could easily start to regress.  Always viewed as a power option, he’s actually struggled to it the ball in the air (32.2%), and has been even worse in the second half (28.4%).  Unless he starts putting the ball in the air a little bit more, the power won’t be there.  Without that, there’s simply not enough there to excite us.

 

9) Is Chris Tillman ready to implode…
It’s hard to assume, given how well he’s been pitching.  After being backed by five home runs, he went out and tossed 7.0 IP allowing 1 unearned run on 3 H and 2 BB, striking out 2, to improve to 11-5 with a 3.41 ERA and 1.21 WHIP.  He hasn’t given up more than 3 ER in a start since June 5, when his ERA ballooned up to 5.20.  While the overall numbers do appear to be solid, he also has lacked strikeout stuff (6.08 K/9) and has benefited from a .255 BABIP.  Sure, the strikeouts are up since the All-Star Break (7.09), but he’s also benefited from a .200 BABIP and 80.6% strand rate.  Simply put, he’s pitching over his head right now.  Obviously, considering the way he’s pitching he is worth using, but be prepared for a blowup in the not too distant future.

 

10) Michael Pineda continues to roll…
Taking on the Royals he went 6.1 IP allowing 1 ER on 5 H and 0 BB, striking out 5, with his lone mistake coming to Mike Moustakas (1-3, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R).  We talked about Pineda yesterday, but coming off another impressive outing it’s definitely worth repeating.  While there is more upside in the strikeout department (he owns an 11.1% SwStr% and generated 18 swings and misses yesterday), there is a lot of luck in the numbers.  It’s hard to imagine him maintaining his 17.0% line drive rate (just yesterday, it jumped from 14.8%), .243 BABIP, 82.2% strand rate or 0.49 HR/9 (especially given his locale and 50.9% fly ball rate).  There’s likely a regression coming, so don’t get too attached.

 

Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs, Baseball Reference

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