10 Stories From 09/24/2014 Box Scores: Taijuan Walker Stars, Is Jake Arrieta A True Ace & More

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

Clayton Kershaw ended his season with a flourish, allowing 1 ER on 8 H and 0 BB, striking out 11, over 8.0 IP to finish with 21 W despite missing a month.  Could you just imagine what would’ve been had he stayed healthy?  We all know who deserves the NL Cy Young, so let’s take a look at what else happened on the field yesterday:

 

1) Shane Greene’s season ends with a whimper…
Taking on the Orioles Green got blown up for 6 ER on 7 H and 3 BB, striking out 5, over 3.2 IP.  It’s a shame, given his overall “success” with a 3.78 ERA…  I say “success” because he actually ends with a 1.40 WHIP, though part of that is due to an unlucky .317 BABIP entering the day.  While his minor league career didn’t indicate this type of stuff, he entered the day with a 9.12 K/9, 3.12 BB/9 and 50.9% groundball rate.  In other words, there is upside in his stuff.  However we’ll have to keep a close eye on the Yankees and their offseason as Greene is hardly guaranteed a rotation spot for 2015.

 

2) Howie Kendrick hits cleanup…
He also had a big day, going 2-4 with 3 RBI, giving him 75 RBI on the season to go along with a .295 average.  Of course he also has just 7 HR and 14 SB and it’s easy to imagine the average dropping significantly.  He has seen his line drive rate fall to 18.8%, so his .343 BABIP appears unrealistic.  He also has posted a career worst 60.1% groundball rate (54.7% for his career), making his power a complete non-factor (though we already knew that).  He has shown a better line drive rate in September (22.2%), which is hopeful, but don’t let the RBI numbers deceive you.  He’s nothing more than a low-end option.

 

3) An impressive tough luck loss for Taijuan Walker…
It was supposed to be a breakout season for Walker, but it never happened for a variety of reasons (injuries, other breakouts).  Walker got one last start last night and showed why he was considered one of the best prospects in the game, allowing 1 ER on 4 H and 1 BB, striking out 6, over 8.0 IP against the Blue Jays (Mark Buehrle tossed 8.0 shutout innings with 10 K against him).  He made 14 starts at Triple-A this season with home runs leading to a 4.81 ERA (9.12 K/9, 3.08 BB/9).  His line drive rate has been elevated in the Majors (27.2%), but don’t read too much into it.  This was a glimpse of what he’s capable of moving forward.

 

4) Could Garin Cecchini be the Red Sox answer at 3B…
The late season surges of Mookie Betts (1-3, 1 RBI, 1 R) and Xander Bogaerts (2-4, 3 RBI, 1 R), as well as the debut of Rusney Castillo (0-3, 1 RBI, 1 R), have been important stories for the Red Sox.  While Cecchini could be buried on the depth chart, behind Will Middlebrooks and Brock Holt, he had a good day yesterday (1-3, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 R) and could make his own play for playing time.  Of course he’s not a power hitter (7 HR in 407 AB at Triple-A) and also had just 11 SB on the year.  A .298 hitter in the minors, there’s not a lot to get excited about.  Even if he got the job, which is unlikely, he’d be nothing more than a fill-in option.

 

5) Can Jean Segura rebuild his value…
He went 2-3 with 2 RBI and 2 R yesterday, leaving him at .241 with 4 HR, 30 RBI, 58 R and 18 SB.  The power drop wasn’t surprising, but a .271 BABIP given his speed (even with an 18.4% line drive rate) is lower than we’d expect.  It helped lead to a drop in the order which, in turn, has led to disappointing run and stolen base numbers.  He is hitting .298 in September (.300 BABIP despite a 15.2% line drive rate) and, while we can’t put too much stock into that, it is at least a sign of things that are possible.  It’s hard to imagine him becoming that 2013 season, but he should be better than this.

 

6) Lisalverto Bonilla wins his third straight start…
Who?  The latest Ranger to get an opportunity, given the slew of injuries, was impressive against the Astros allowing 4 H and 2 BB, striking out 7, over 6.0 shutout innings.  In his three starts he now owns a 2.12 ERA and 1.18 WHIP, though there’s obvious luck (.225 BABIP, 86.7% strand rate) given his control issues (5.29 BB/9).  That hasn’t been the norm for him, with a 3.7 BB/9 at Triple-A, but he also spent significant time as a reliever (8 starts in 65 appearances).  He could be a strikeout artist, with a 10.3 K/9 in the minors, but again a lot of it was as a reliever so it’s tough to get a good read (though he does have an 11.3% SwStr% in the Majors).  There’s definite intrigue here, and it will be interesting to see what type of role the Rangers put him in for 2015.

 

7) Jake Arrieta’s breakout ends with a bang…
Taking on the Red Sox he allowed 1 R (0 earned) on 2 H and 1 BB, striking out 10, over 7.0 IP to end with a 2.53 ERA, 0.99 WHIP and 9.59 K/9 over 156.2 IP.  Is he THIS good?  Probably not, though that’s a question that we’ll try to answer in the offseason.  The fact is that he did alter his pitching style, using a cutter 28.4% of the time, which has likely helped lead to his stellar success.  He did “regress” in the second half, with a 3.10 ERA, but that was solely due to a 68.2% strand rate.  His strikeouts (9.77, 9.42 K/9 between the halves) and control (2.53, 2.18 BB/9) were consistent and impressive.  Surprisingly, Arrieta is looking like a potential keeper in most formats heading into 2015.

 

8) Is Carl Crawford truly “back”…
He filled the box score last night, going 2-2 with 1 HR, 2 RBI, 3 R and 1 SB, putting him at .295 with 8 HR, 46 RBI, 55 R and 23 SB over 363 PA this season.  He’s been even better in the second half, hitting .324 an while a .370 BABIP seems unreasonable it has come courtesy of a 29.5% line drive rate (24.6% in the first half).  The numbers (especially in the RBI/R) appear low, but we have to remember that there was playing time issues given the crowded outfield situation.  He may never be the player he once was, but it’s obvious the talent is still there assuming he can stay healthy.  Of course, that may be the biggest question and is going to keep us from spending too much on him in 2015.

 

9) Where was Trevor Bauer’s breakout…
We kept waiting…  Hoping…  Bauer was never able to fully put it together, though, ending the season by allowing 4 ER on 8 H and 3 BB, striking out 2, over 4.1 IP against the Royals.  He allowed 4 ER in three of his five September starts and finished with a 4.18 ERA and 1.38 WHIP.  There were good signs, with an 8.41 K/9 and 3.53 BB/9 (the latter of which has always been the biggest question facing him) and the overall upside is still there long-term.  Will he ever get there, though?  That remains to be seen.

 

10) Phil Hughes earns one last win…
Taking on the Diamondbacks he allowed 1 R on 5 H and 0 BB, striking out 5, over 8.0 IP to finish at 16-10 with a 3.52 ERA.  There have been two keys to his turn around, a drop in home runs and absolutely elite control.  Does anyone really believe the latter, as he posted a 0.69 BB/9 for the season?  It’s hard to believe, but he owned marks of 2.16 and 2.59 the previous two seasons so there is a lot to like there.  The home runs isn’t a surprise, as he got out of Yankee Stadium for a much friendlier home ballpark.  We knew there’d be a lot to like and it’s nice to see him live up to the expectations.

 

Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs, Baseball Reference, MILB.com

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