10 Stories From 09/19/2014 Box Scores: Arcia Slugging In September, Is Belt Usable For Final Week & More

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

Clayton Kershaw won his 20th game, despite not having his best stuff (5.0 IP, 3 ER, 7 H, 3 BB, 9 K) and missing all of April.  With just days left in the season, what else happened that we need to know about?  Let’s take a look:

 

1) Kevin Gausman continues positive finish to the season…
It wasn’t the best start, but it was far from terrible as he allowed 3 R (2 earned) on 7 H and 0 BB, striking out 3, over 5.0 IP against the Red Sox.  He was done in by the long ball as he allowed a pair of home runs, with David Ortiz (3-5, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 2 R) and Yoenis Cespedes (1-5, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R) each taking him deep.  He now owns a 2.73 ERA in four September starts, with 24 K over 26.1 IP and has a 7.33 K/9 since the All-Star Break.  Of course he has carried an inflated line drive rate (24.4%) and has also been highly dependent on his fastball (throwing it 70.8% of the time).  Those are two things we’ll have to keep an eye on heading into 2015, but there’s no doubt that he’ll be a high upside option for the tail end of our fantasy rotation.  His final start of the year is scheduled to come against the Yankees, who he owns a 0.75 ERA against in two starts this season.

 

2) A stellar outing for Yovani Gallardo…
The Brewers needed him to step up against the Pirates and he delivered, tossing 7.0 shutout innings allowing 5 H and 1 BB, striking out 11.  Unfortunately Jonathan Broxton imploded (4 ER over 0.1 IP) costing Gallardo the victory.  After allowing 10 ER over 8.2 IP in his first two starts of September he has now allowed 2 ER over his past 13.0 IP and owns a 3.46 ERA and 1.27 WHIP on the season.  The main concern has been a drop in strikeouts (6.82 K/9), as he’s actually shown control (2.55 BB/9) and groundballs (51.6%).  It’s the second consecutive season that his SwStr% has dipped below 7.0% (currently at 6.9%), so while last night was promising it’s hard to expect his strikeouts to suddenly jump back up.  It doesn’t eliminate his value, it just decreases it.

 

3) Jeremy Hellickson turns in a dud against the White Sox…
He allowed 4 ER on 7 H and 2 BB, striking out 1, over 4.1 IP leaving him with a 3.96 ERA and 1.37 WHIP over his 12 starts this season.  There is upside in the strikeout department, as he owns a 7.63 K/9 (6.51 for his career) courtesy of a 10.1% SwStr% (9.6% for his career), so the upside is there.  The problem is that he’s prone to home runs (35.3% groundball rate, 1.03 HR/9) and doesn’t have elite control (3.08 BB/9 in ’14, 2.96 for his career).  Unless the strikeouts rise substantially, he’s hard to trust bot for his final start of ’14 and heading into ’15.

 

4) James McCann starts behind the plate…
With Alex Avila hurting the Tigers called on McCann and he delivered, going 2-5 with 2 R and 1 SB.  He’s not a major source of power, with 14 HR over 946 PA in the minors the past two seasons, but he did hit .277 and .295 with 63 total doubles.  This year’s mark was buoyed by a .355 BABIP, so consider .270-.280 more realistic, but he does a good job of making contact (19.6% strikeout rate at Triple-A) so he could be a help to anyone in need in that department.  It’ll be interesting to see how much he plays down the stretch, but in two-catcher formats he could be a surprising help.

 

5) Oswaldo Arcia surging in September…
He went 3-4 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 1 R yesterday giving him back-to-back games with a home run and an eight-game hitting streak (13-27 with 4 HR, 8 RBI and 5 R).  More importantly he has just 7 K over the streak and is hitting .333 with 5 HR over 45 AB in September.  There is no question about his power, but overall on the season he owns a 30.3% strikeout rate.  While a September mark of 25.5% may not be a terrific number, it’s a vital step in the right direction.  Since 2011 in the minors he owns a 21.2% mark, including 23.6% and 20.0% while at Triple-A the past two seasons.  We try not to get too excited about September, but this is a positive sign towards his 2015 outlook.  Of course, ride him down the stretch as well.

 

6) It was a big day for Dustin Ackley…
He helped the returning Taijuan Walker (5.2 IP, 2 ER, 8 H, 2 BB, 7 K) get the W as he went 2-4 with 2 HR, 2 RBI and 3 R.  Ackley enjoyed a string Spring Training, but stumbled in the first half sending those taking the gamble fleeing.  However since the All-Star Break he’s hit .281 with 9 HR in the second half.  His strikeouts are down (17.8% to 12.6%) and his power is up (HR/FB of 5.3% to 13.8%).  It remains to be seen if he can put it together for an entire season, but he’s at least proving that there will be potential value once again heading into 2015.  If he happens to still be sitting out there, ride him while you can.

 

7) Michael Cuddyer enjoys a monster day…
These could be his final days as a Rockie, since he’s a free agent at year’s end, and he’s making the most of them.  He went 3-5 with 1 HR, 7 RBI and 3 R yesterday and has now scored 8 R over his past three games (as well as having homered in back-to-back games).  We all know he’s a solid player, but his home/road split this season is somewhat telling (.405 at home, .275 on the road).  We won’t know his 2015 value until we know where he ultimately lands but it’s no doubt going to decrease.  Enjoy his last few days at Coors while you can, but his viability next week for your fantasy championship will depend on your alternatives.

 

8) Ryan Rua continues to rake…
He hasn’t shown off any power, but he went 4-5 with 1 RBI and 1 R yesterday and is now hitting .320 on the season.  The power upside appears to be limited, as he owns a 52.3% groundball rate and 23.1% flyball rate in the Majors (something that also plagued him in the minors), and he’s also benefited from a .369 BABIP and 13.0% strikeout rate (17.4% while at Triple-A this season).  In other words, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him fall on hard times before long.  It’s something to keep in mind, but with only a week left he’s worth considering depending on your alternatives.

 

9) Brandon Belt returns to the Giants lineup…
He hadn’t started a game since August 6 and struggled yesterday, going 0-3 with 1 K.  It’s been an extremely disappointing season for Belt, who is hitting just .233.  While he did show some power (19.3% HR/FB), the strikeouts are prohibitive (27.1%) and the line drive rate is hardly impressive (18.8%).  That type of line drive rate, when coupled with a 42.9% fly ball rate, make his .268 BABIP somewhat believable.  While he still has upside, he’s going to need to make adjustments.  At this point it’s tough to trust him for the final week.

 

10) It was an impressive outing for Zack Wheeler…
He outpitched Julio Teheran (7.0 IP, 2 ER, 7 H, 0 BB, 6 K) to earn the W as he tossed 6.0 shutout innings allowing 5 H and 2 BB, striking out 7.  The question with Wheeler is always going to be about his control, as he owns a 3.79 BB/9 on the season.  With his ability to generate strikeouts (8.98 K/9 courtesy of a 9.8% SwStr%) and induce groundballs (53.8%), the sky is the limit pitching in CitiField.  Hopefully he can find consistency in firing strikes, though time will tell.

 

Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs, Minor League Central, CBS Sports

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