10 Important Stories From 05/08/15 Box Scores: Wacha’s Lack Of Ks, Ventura’s Struggles & More

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

Bryce Harper was at it again, going 3-4 with 2 HR, 5 RBI and 2 R.  For those who aren’t paying attention, that’s 5 HR over his past two games.  Jimmy Nelson took the loss, allowing 4 ER over 7.0 IP, but he struck out 11 batters.  Jered Weaver tossed a complete game shutout, allowing 6 H and 0 BB while striking out 6, though as we’ve said before it’s extremely difficult to trust him given the drop in velocity.

What else happened on the diamond yesterday that deserves our attention?  Let’s take a look:

1) Has Gio Gonzalez finally figured things out…
It’s hard to say that, but he’s definitely posted back-to-back strong outings after allowing 2 ER on 5 H and 1 BB, striking out 8, over 7.0 IP against the Braves.  He now has allowed 2 ER on 11 H and 3 BB, striking out 17, over 14.0 IP en route to a pair of victories (and also has at least 8 K in three straight starts).  To make things even better, he had 8 groundball outs vs. 1 fly ball out yesterday.  The main thing to watch is his groundball rate, which was 57.6% entering the day (compared to 46.9% for his career).  He has been using his sinker more this season, which would justify the increase in groundballs.  If he can maintain that, along with the strikeouts, he should continue to post impressive numbers.

2) How much longer until Maikel Franco arrives in Philadelphia…
For a while the thought was he would replace Ryan Howard, but he’s warmed up of late.  After going 2-3 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 1 R yesterday he’s now homered in back-to-back games and is hitting .297 with 3 HR in his past 10.  Instead it’s Cody Asche, who hit seventh yesterday, who is on the hot seat.  Forget about moving to the outfield, after going 0-3 with 1 K yesterday he’s now hitting .132 with 14 K over his past 10 games.  If you want to take it even further he’s 11-73 (.151) with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 22 K since April 16.  The Phillies can’t possibly stick with him for too much longer, can they?  If Franco (who is heating back up himself) is sitting on your waiver wire, don’t hesitate to stash him.

3) Where have all the strikeouts gone Michael Wacha…
He beat the Pirates last night, defeating Francisco Liriano (6.1 IP, 5 ER, 6 H, 1 BB, 10 K), allowing 2 ER on 6 H and 0 BB over 6.0 IP.  However he struck out just 1 batter, leaving him with a miniscule 4.42 K/9.  It’s hard to get upset, considering that he’s 5-0 with a 2.09 ERA and 1.03 WHIP.  He’s also shown control (1.86 BB/9) and a new groundball rate (54.8%), so maybe it’s a conscious decision to go after fewer strikeouts?  He’s increased the usage of his cutter, but unless he starts generating more swings and misses (he only had 5 yesterday, dropping him to a 7.0% SwStr%) there’s a good chance the numbers start to regress (.233 BABIP, 81.6% strand rate).

4) Aaron Sanchez wins, but that doesn’t mean he was impressive…
Sure he tossed 7.0 shutout innings, allowing just 2 H, but that doesn’t mean fantasy owners should be excited.  He walked 5 batters, giving him 11 BB over his past two starts (12.2 IP) and 25 BB over 32.1 innings on the season.   A 6.96 BB/9 is never going to get it done, and while he owns a 3.62 ERA he’s also benefited from a .239 BABIP and 81.5% strand rate.  Throw in the lack of strikeout upside, barring a change (6.1% SwStr%, 21.5% O-Swing%), and he’s not a pitcher to trust.

5) Has the time come to give up on Yordano Ventura…
He allowed 4 R on 8 H and 3 BB, striking out 4, over 6.0 IP against the Tigers last night.  That gives up a 5.13 ERA and 1.32 WHIP, allowing 4+ ER in three of his past four starts.  Part of the problem has been poor luck (67.6% strand rate) and part has been the surprising lack of strikeouts (6.48 K/9).  He has seen a drop in velocity on his fastball (97.0 mph to 95.7 mph) and owns just an 8.9% SwStr%.  We all know the upside is there though, and if he can start generating more swings and misses the other numbers support a strong campaign (3.51 BB/9, 51.0% groundball rate).  In other words there’s too much upside not to stick with him.

6) Could Delino Deshields Jr. get a look at 2B…
we all know that Rougned Odor has struggled, with Adam Rosales manning 2B yesterday.  While Deshields has been playing CF in recent days, Leonys Martin is due back this weekend which would shift Deshields back to the bench.  However, he went 2-4 with 1 R and 1 SB yesterday and now has 3 RBI, 4 R and 4 SB over his past three games.  Having come up as a 2B, it’s an interesting idea and something that could easily come to fruition (remember, as a Rule 5 draft pick Deshields needs to stay on the roster all year).  If you are in need of speed, he’s worth scooping up in deeper formats.

7) Khris Davis breaks out in a big way…
He went 4-5 with 1 HR, 3 RBI and 1 R.  It’s been a slow start to the season for Davis, who was 2-24 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 1 R over his previous eight games.  His strikeouts are up this season (27.3%) and his power has been down (HR/FB of 7.7%, after posting a 14.5% mark last season).  Both are concerns, though we’d also expect both to rebound as the season progresses.  Last night was a good example of what he’s capable of, so don’t give up hope.

8) A.J. Pollock continues to rake, but is it for real…
He went 2-5 with 1 HR, 1 RBI and 1 R yesterday, putting him at .307 with 2 HR, 9 RBI, 20 R and 5 SB on the season.  It’s hard to complain about anything in that line, but can he possibly maintain the pace?  We can nitpick the numbers, like a .349 BABIP despite an 18.8% line drive rate or a 16.0% IFFB, and it’s possible that there’s a little bit of a regression on the horizon.  However, we need to remember that he stole 14 bases in 265 AB last season to go along with a .353 OBP.  With Paul Goldschmidt and company hitting behind him, there’s every reason to think that he’ll continue to produce.

9) Logan Morrison is suddenly raking…
He went 2-5 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 1 R yesterday, giving him 4 HR in his past 7 games and he’s 15-35 with 4 HR, 7 RBI and 7 R over his past 9 games with just 6 K over that span.  Of course you can argue that his overall strikeout rate isn’t for real (11.9%) and he continues to struggle to hit the ball with authority (14.6% line drive rate).  Even during this hot stretch, his May line drive rate is 13.6% and he’s clearly swinging for the fences with a 59.1% fly ball rate.  In other words, don’t get too excited.

10) Tim Lincecum continues to show that he has reinvented himself…
Taking on the Marlins he tossed 6.0 shutout innings allowing 3 H and 3 BB, striking out 8.  He now owns a 2.00 ERA and 1.19 WHIP on the season, courtesy of a career best 54.0% groundball rate.  He as a 7.00 K/9, but he also has a 10.6% SwStr% showing the upside for a bit more.  He’s not the same pitcher he once was and will likely take a step backwards (81.7% strand rate), but that doesn’t mean he isn’t a viable option.  He’s no ace, but he’s worth using.

Sources – MLB.com, ESPN, Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball

2 comments

  1. Kevin says:

    Wondering if you know the exact date where the Phillies gain the extra year of control on Franco? I see mid-May, but having trouble finding a specific date.

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      I don’t have an exact date, but I believe it’s 40 days of service time that they need to avoid. That’s probably around May 15 or so, but we’d have to count it out

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