10 Stories From 09/07/2014 Box Scores: Javier Baez’ Epic Strikeout Struggles, Young Starts On Display (Y. Ventura, Paxton) & More

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

It was another monster day for Nelson Cruz, going 4-5 with 2 HR, 7 RBI and 2 R.  However Adrian Gonzalez nearly matched him, going 2-4 with 2 HR, 6 RBI and 2 R.  Derek Holland, making his second start, as arguably the pitching star as he dominated the Mariners with 7.0 shutout innings allowing 6 H and 0 BB, striking out 5.

 

1) Carlos Carrasco has another strong start…
He came an within an out of a complete game victory, allowing 4 H and 0 BB, striking out 8, over 8.2 IP (he also generated 12 groundballs vs. 6 fly balls) against a less than stellar White Sox lineup.  He’s now 4-0 in his past six starts allowing 3 ER on 25 H and 4 BB, striking out 42, over 38.2 IP.  Needless to say it’s been an impressive stretch, though he’s obviously not THIS good.  That said, he entered the day with a 3.46 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 9.87 K/9, 2.25 BB/9 and 49.6% groundball rate as a starting pitcher.  Think it’s just luck based?  His .307 BABIP and 69.9% strand rate definitely don’t indicate significant luck.  Finally healthy, he’s been a steal off the waiver wire and could continue to thrive for the remainder of the season.

 

2) The Juan Lagares speed machine continues to turn…
He went 1-3 with 3 SB yesterday, giving him 12 on the season and 8 over his past nine games.  The Mets have said they were going to try to get him to steal more, seeing his ability to flag down fly balls in the outfield, and he’s clearly proving that he can be successful.  Now entrenched at the top of the Mets lineup, it certainly helps give him potential value.  Of course it’s disappointing that he didn’t score, but that’s more a product of the Mets lineup.  He’s now hitting .282 on the season and, while his .346 BABIP entering the day seems a bit unrealistic, his speed and 22.7% line drive rate tell us that he could maintain it.  Obviously he’s not a tremendous option, but there’s more than enough to like in five outfielder formats.

 

3) A gem for Yordano Venture, but without the Ks…
He completely stymied the Yankees, tossing 6.0 shutout innings allowing 3 H and 4 BB, but with only 2 K.  he had been striking out a few more batters of late (8.14 K/9 in the second half), he entered the day with a somewhat disappointing 7.82 K/9.  That said his 10.4% SwStr% obviously indicates significantly more upside, as does his fastball that’s averaged 97.0 mph.  Coupling that type of potential with enough control (3.38 BB/9) and groundballs (48.0%), we still see the upside of a top end starter.  He wasn’t that big of a groundball artist in the minors (41.9% since ’11), but it has been steady all season long (48.9% in the first half, 46.2% in the second half).  Continue to ride him this season and look for even more in 2015.

 

4) Is it time to give up on Jimmy Nelson…
Beyond 2014 is obviously a different story, as the upside is still there.  That said, it’s impossible to trust him for the remainder of the season.  As it is he is likely ticketed for the bullpen with five other viable options on the roster.  His performance has also justified the move, as he allowed 4 ER on 5 H and 2 BB, striking out 3, over 5.0 IP yesterday and now owns a 4.38 ERA and 1.38 WHIP on the season.  He’s now posted monthly ERAs of 5.71 in July, 3.94 in August and 4.50 in September.  If you are in a redraft format, or a shallower keeper league, feel free to move on.

 

5) Is C.J. Cron primed to make a major September impact…
It’s easy to forget about him, after he was demoted earlier in the year, but we have to remember that he filled the role of DH earlier in the season and could easily assume it once again.  He went 2-3 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 2 R yesterday and is now 4-7 with 1 HR, 3 RBI and 2 R over the past two games.  We have to remember, though, that there were significant questions about his power potential after posting a 27.7% OFB at Double-A in ’13 (565 PA) and a 25.2% mark at Triple-A in ’14 (213 PA).  Couple mediocre power with only a decent average, from a 1B, and there’s not a lot to love.  Don’t bank on too much down the stretch, especially with questionable playing time.

 

6) Javier Baez’ strikeouts are getting out of control…
He went 0-4 with 3 K yesterday and is now 1-13 with 10 K over his past three games.  Overall he has 61 K in just 136 AB, so while we had concerns about his contact rate when he was recalled this has gotten out of control.  Sure he’s shown a little bit of pop with 7 HR, though he’s gone 14 games without hitting one (6-58 with 4 RBI and 3 R) and nine games without an RBI.  We all knew that this was the risk going into trusting him, though we obviously had hoped it wouldn’t get this bad.  While his long-term outlook has changed, the question is going to be if he can make a necessary adjustment for the remainder of this season.  That, unfortunately, remains to be seen though don’t be surprised to see him getting a few days off in the near future.

 

7) Corey Spangenberg gets an opportunity in the Padres leadoff spot…
He’s an easy player to overlook, as he doesn’t bring much power to the plate (22.0% OFB in the minors since ’11), but he was hitting .317 with 2 HR, 26 RBI, 44 R and 16 SB in 312 AB in the minors this season (he had 36 SB in 513 AB in the minors in ’13).  Of course his ’14 average was buoyed by a .401 BABIP, despite a 17.1% line drive rate (he owns a 12.4% mark since ’11).  In other words, despite the opportunity he appears to be getting, there isn’t too much to like.  While he could add a few SB, which he did yesterday as he went 1-4 with 1 SB, there are better options to target.

 

8) James Paxton suffers a tough luck loss…
He pitched well once again, allowing 1 ER on 5 H and 2 BB, striking out 3, over 6.0 IP but was outpitched by Derek Holland.  As we’ve said before, though, it’s hard to buy into Paxton being able to maintain this type of production over the final few weeks of the season.  He entered the day with a .252 BABIP and 80.8% strand rate, despite a 24.8% line drive rate.  He also has struggled to generate strikeouts, with a 6.70 K/9, and his 8.1% SwStr doesn’t offer that much upside.  Throw in potential control concerns (4.05 BB/9 since ’11 in the minors) and it’s not hard to imagine a significant regression over the final three weeks of the year.  Move forward cautiously with him.

 

9) Has Gio Gonzalez turned the corner…
He got the W over the Phillies as he allowed 2 R (1 earned) on 5 H and 0 BB, striking out 3, over 6.0 IP.  He’s now allowed 7 ER over 25.0 IP in his past four starts, with 18 H and 6 BB over that span.  It’s definitely encouraging, given how inconsistent he’s been at times this season, though he hasn’t struck out more than 4 in each of his past three starts.  He entered the day with a .326 BABIP in the second half, despite a 20.6% line drive rate, while also showing strikeouts (9.25 K/9) and control (3.70 BB/9).  While he’s slipped a bit, there’s still more than enough to like.

 

10) Kyle Lobstein stars again, but can it continue…
He went 5.2 IP allowing 1 ER on 4 H and 2 BB, striking out 3, against the San Francisco Giants.  He owns a 2.78 ERA and 1.19 WHIP over his four starts, with no more than 3 ER in any of them.  It’s an extremely small sample size but he owns a .239 BABIP and 11.8% line drive rate, neither of which is believable.  He also offers little strikeout potential, with a 7.8 K/9 in the minors and 3 K or fewer in three of his four Major League starts (that 10 K outing looks even more like an aberration).  Maybe consider him while he’s hot, but there’s an implosion coming.

 

Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs, Minor League Central, MLB.com, MILB.com

2 comments

  1. joey says:

    would you rather have carrasco over samardjiza, wheeler, lynn, or fiers for the rest of the season?

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