10 Important Stories From 06/03/15 Box Scores: Young SP Galore (Rodriguez, McCullers), Franco Delivering & More

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

Masahiro Tanaka made his return from the DL, getting the W by allowing 1 ER on 3 H and 0 BB, striking out 9, over 7.0 IP. Freddie Freeman had a big day against Rubby De La Rosa, going 2-5 with 2 HR, 4 RBI and 2 R. Chris Sale breezed past the Rangers tossing 7.0 shutout innings allowing 3 H and 2 BB, striking out 13 (10+ K in four of his past five starts, including 35 K in his past three). What else happened on the field yesterday? Let’s take a look:

1) Is it time to give up on Jimmy Nelson…
He struggled against the Cardinals yesterday, allowing 7 R (6 ER) on 7 H and 2 BB, striking out 5, over 5.0 IP. It raised his ERA to 4.41, having allowed 4+ ER in five of his past eight starts. Of course, before we are so quick to write him off remember that he owns a 1.22 WHIP and entered the day with a 7.94 K/9, 3.32 BB/9 and 49.1% groundball rate. The big problem has been an elevated HR/9 of 1.16 (though he didn’t allow a home run yesterday). While he certainly has had his issues, there’s still enough in the underlying numbers to believe in some upside. Don’t give up on him unless you play in a shallower league with ample talent on the waiver wire.

2) Eduardo Rodriguez stars again…
Taking on the Twins in the first half of the double header Rodriguez allowed just 1 R on 2 H and 2 BB, striking out 7, over 7.0 IP. His line mistake came against Brian Dozier (2-3, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R), which he sent over the wall. In two starts (14.2 IP) Rodriguez now owns a 0.61 ERA, 0.61 WHIP and 14 K. There’s no questioning the potential, though the strikeouts may be a bit deceiving as he owned an 8.01 K/9 in at Triple-A and a 7.64 mark in the minors since 2011. He should be strong, but he likely will take a step back in that regard. He also could have home run issues (43.9% groundball rate since ’11), so just be realistic. He’s a great player to add and should be sticking in the rotation, but don’t expect him to maintain this type of pace.

3) Another strong home start for Taijuan Walker…
He was outpitched by Masahiro Tanaka, but Walker pitched well allowing 3 ER on 5 H and 1 BB, striking out 7, over 8.0 IP. He made two mistakes, with Mark Teixeira (1-4, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R) and Garrett Jones (1-3, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 R) each taking him deep. As we said after his last start, while the overall line is ugly Walker has been an impressive starter at home (entering the day with 2.22 ERA). The question is if he can find a way to keep the ball in the ballpark (10 HR allowed) and replicate his home success on the road. Time will tell, and when he proves he can he will be a must start option. In the meantime he should be stashed on your bench when on the road but used with confidence while at home.

4) Has Cameron Maybin finally figured things out…
He went 3-5 with 2 RBI and 2 R yesterday, his fourth multi-hit game in his past six (9-27, 1 HR, 6 RBI, 4 R and 1 SB). He entered the day with a monster 29.4% line drive rate, so it’s an easy number to see regressing, but it shouldn’t have a major impact as he’s posted a less than stellar .299 BABIP. His average distance on non-groundballs of 265.666 backs up his 5 HR and shows signs for a little bit more (something we would’ve expected moving out of San Diego). We also know he has speed, something he’ll get to use now that he’s hitting second in the order. In other words, there’s a lot to like as long as he holds down the job (though the fact that the team is experimenting with Jose Peraza in CF is a bit of a concern).

5) Maikel Franco starting to put things together, especially in the clutch…
He had a game tying three-run home run last night off of Aroldis Chapman in the bottom of the ninth, finishing the day going 2-5 with 1 HR, 3 RBI and 1 R. It comes a day after he tied the game with a two-run home run in the eighth inning and puts him at 4-9 with 2 HR, 5 RBI and 1 R over his past two games. It’s not an especially long stretch, but the home runs in key spots are obviously impressive. He’s showing power, making contact (12.9% strikeout rate entering the day) and also should improve on his .2014 BABIP (even with a lower line drive rate (15.8%). There are going to continue to be bumps along the way but things could be swinging up for him.

6) The time to buy Chad Bettis could be passing quickly…
Pitching at home against the Los Angeles Dodgers he continued his strong stretch by allowing 2 R (1 earned) on 5 H and 3 BB, striking out 5, over 6.0 IP but the bullpen coughed up the lead and cost him the W. In five starts this season he now owns a 2.70 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 7.29 K/9, 2.43 BB/9 and 50.0% groundball rate. There continues to be upside in the strikeout department (9.9% SwStr%, 37.1% O-Swing%) and is proving that he can get the job done at home (2.96 ERA courtesy of a .317 BABIP and 72.0% strand rate). As we’ve said before the underlying numbers resemble what he did in the minors (9.31 K/9, 2.49 BB/9, 45.5% groundball rate since ’11) and he’s doing it with realistic luck (.283 BABIP, 71.1% strand rate, 19.4% line drive rate). Even with the risk of Coors Field, Bettis represents a solid buy opportunity.

7) Lance McCullers goes the distance for the W…
Chris Carter (2-3, 2 HR, 2 RBI, 2 R) provided all the support he’d need as McCullers allowed just 1 R on 4 H and 0 BB, striking out 11, in a complete game victory over the Orioles. He’s now posted an impressive 29 K vs. 6 BB over 24.0 IP in the Majors as he’s continued to show the improved control he had displayed at Double-A (3.41 BB/9). It remains to be seen if he can continue at this pace and he also has yet to allow a home run (he posted a 1.67 HR/9 at High-A in ’14 and entered the day with a modest 46.3% groundball rate). It’s impossible to overlook him at this point, but those two numbers need to be monitored moving forward as he can easily regress significantly in both departments.

8) Joey Butler continues to thrive…
He went 2-5 with 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 R and 1 SB yesterday giving him a five-game hitting streak (10-21 with 2 HR, 4 RBI, 4 R and 1 SB) and putting him at .337 with 4 HR over 86 AB in the Majors. Of course, while he’s been hitting the ball hard (29.3% line drive rate) does anyone believe in that mark or his .463 BABIP? How about a 33.3% HR/FB and his elevated 31.1% strikeout rate? He’s been impressive but the numbers scream of a regression in the not too distant future.

9) Another big game for Josh Reddick, but is he for real…
He has been slowing down (hitless in six of his previous seven games) but he exploded yesterday going 2-4 with 1 HR, 1 RBI and 1 R. He’s now hitting .301 with 8 HR over 176 AB this season. The power is reminiscent of what he did in 2012 (12.9% HR/FB) and there’s nothing unrealistic in his .302 BABIP (25.5% line drive rate). The question is going to be if he can continue to limit the strikeouts, currently at 9.6%, but he’s done it long enough that it’s hard not to believe. At this point consider us buyers.

10) It was a significant step backwards for Jon Lester…
Taking on the Marlins he allowed 6 ER on 9 H and 1 BB, striking out 4, over 5.0 IP and two of the hits were home runs (Giancarlo Stanton & Jeff Baker). Lester had seemingly gotten things on track in May, posting a 1.76 ERA and 37 K over 41.0 IP, so hopefully this is just a small step backwards for him. I know his struggles in April are still fresh in our minds, but don’t let this one poor outing dissuade you. Continue to use him and consider him one of the better options in the league.

Sources – ESPN, Frangraphs, Minor League Central, Baseball Heat Maps

9 comments

  1. bbboston says:

    RP:

    Just wondering what you thought of Trevor May’s performance last night, and longer term value.

  2. Adam says:

    Is Melky or Yelich worth dropping at this point for Souza in a 10-team roto redraft league?

  3. Carlito says:

    Chris Carter? Looks like he has found his groove finally?

  4. Tuco says:

    If I want to pick up Walker would you drop Austin Jackson or Colabello?

  5. Btdrnks says:

    I believe the data for E. Rodriguez prior to this past season is irrelevant here. His fastball experienced a uptick to 94-96 topping out at 98 last year. He is a different pitcher now. Not to say that a K/9 of 9+ is at all to be expected. Settling in at 8+ would be appropriate.

  6. Rotoprofessor says:

    bbboston – String outing but there’s a lot of risk in the HR department and I dont buy the control

    Adam – I like Melky’s upside ROS, but I’d go Souza over both honestly

    Carlito – It’s definitely possible, which is going to keep Singleton planted in the minors

    Tuco – Colabello, we all know there’s a regression in there

    Bt drinks – Fair point, the bottom line is a likely step back, but he’s a pitcher you want to own

  7. Jack says:

    Professor what is going on with Ian Kinsler? I’ve looked at his metrics and I don’t see any major differences between his yearly numbers and his career numbers (except for his hr/fb rate). Do you think we can expect him to bounce back. He’s been eh this year and absolutely awful the last couple weeks. Where is the 20/20 guy from last season?

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      His average distance on non-groundballs is 258.941, which is also right on par with last year’s 259.483. He’s also hitting the ball hard (21.9% line drive rate), making contact (12.4% strikeout rate) and not swinging for the fences (39.3% fly ball rate). There’s every reason to think that he’s going to turn things around, so just stay patient

  8. Chris says:

    Hey Professor,

    Need some help.

    I got offered a trade.

    12 team; h2h, keeper; 6 keepers, no penalties; 12×10 Scoring

    Giving up Sale and HanRam
    Getting K. Morales, Michael Pineda, and Jose Fernandez

    Hanley has been in my outfield where I also have Gomez, Dickerson, Souza, Hamilton, Yelich, and Inciarte

    My Starting Pitchers are Kershaw, Harvey, Sale, Salazar, Carrasco, Thor, Anibal Sanchez, and Archie Bradley. I’d like to upgrade pitching and could use a high average guy.

    Think this is a good deal. But I feel bad giving up HanRam and Sale still. Trading good player guilt!

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