by Ray Kuhn
Entering the day, there were weather concerns all over the place. However on a full Monday of games, only one match-up (Cleveland and the Chicago Cubs) fell victim to the rain. Let’s jump right into 10 stories from last night’s action.
1) Carlos Rodon Struggles
It really seemed as if Rodon had turned a corner prior to his struggles Monday night against the Pirates. Now first, it is just one start so we do want to resist the urge to over react too much, but amidst the success there were some warning signs. Rodon was relying too much on his slider, and in general was just throwing too many pitches. So despite the success, you were within your rights to have some questions about the southpaw, and now those questions will only continue after he allowed seven runs on nine hits in 3.2 innings. Monday’s outing raised his ERA to 3.96, and I would start Rodon again in his start later this week and see how he bounces back. One positive to take out his struggles, is that after allowing five runs in the first inning, Rodon quieted down to keep the Pirates scoreless in the next two innings before allowing two fourth inning runs.
2) Josh Harrison Was a Catalyst
Harrison did exactly what a lead-off man is supposed to do on Monday. So far this season, the 2014 All-Star has been having a rough go of it at times, but he looked perfectly comfortable at the top of the order last night. Reaching base in each of his five plate appearances, four singles and a walk, Harrison scored three runs, got his 21st RBI of the season and also stole two bases (seven on the season). With his average now sitting at .280 on the season after that performance, the window to buy low on Harrison might be closing.
3) Francisco Liriano Had Another Great Start
For Liriano and his owners, it is hard to ask for much more of a better start to the 2015 season that we are seeing. Liriano earned the victory on Monday off Rodon and the White Sox with eight scoreless innings in which he allowed just two hits and one walk while striking out 12. That gave Liriano 99 strikeouts on the season in 82.2 innings while lowering his ERA and WHIP to 2.94 and 0.96 respectively.
4) Jose Bautista Goes Deep, Twice
Bautista is a home run hitter, and he did what home run hitters do on Monday. Against two tough, hard throwing right-handers in Noah Syndergaard and Jeruys Familia, Bautista hit his 12th and 13th home runs of the season. It appears as if Bautista’s early season shoulder woes are behind him and with his .251 average and 40 RBI’s, the slugger is right where owners expected him to be at this point in the season.
5) George Springer is Having a Heck of a Month
After Monday’s action, Springer is hitting .435 over the past 14 days and .371 over the past 28 days. That is a big reason why his batting average sits at .269 and he no longer can be called a disappointment this season after his rough start. Last night against the Rockies, Springer’s power also made an appearance as he hit his 9th and 10th home runs of the season and also added a single on which he later scored. Batting at the top of the order will hinder his RBI’s, but you would like to see Springer with more than 23. However after this recent stretch, it is hard to argue with how the outfielder is performing as it looks like he is just getting started.
6) Stephen Vogt Matches His June Hit Total
Entering the night Vogt had just three hits for the month of June, but against the Padres he doubled that total. Vogt went 3-5 on the night with a grand slam while adding an RBI single for good measure. That gave the catcher 12 home runs on the season to go along with 45 RBI’s and a very respectable .281 average. Based on the way he started the season, Vogt was allowed to have a little slump, but the hope is that his performances is now moving in the other direction after Monday’s performance.
7) Anibal Sanchez Shows What he is Capable of
To say this has been an up and down season for Sanchez would be an understatement. Entering the season he was looked at as a solid, dependable, and often overlooked starter. However, for the most part he has been anything but and the best way to describe him has been streaky. Monday was one of those starts where Sanchez showed what he is capable of and why owners should have held on to him. Sanchez threw a complete game shutout against the Reds in which he allowed just two hits while striking out seven and lowering his ERA to 4.65. Over his last seven starts, Sanchez has been a little better as his ERA in those games is 3.94 to go along with a 1.08 WHIP.
8) Rougned Odor is Back in the Majors
To illustrate how bad Odor’s early season struggles were, you have to look no further than his batting average after action on Monday. Batting in the sixth spot, Odor went 3-3, all singles, and only was able to raise his average to .172. However, Odor’s performance in AAA has to make you feel optimistic as he hit .352 with five home runs and 19 RBI’s in 30 games with Round Rock. If you need middle infield help, Odor is certainly deserving of a look.
9) Yovani Gallardo is Having a Nice Season
Gallardo continued his solid pitching by keeping the Dodgers off the scoreboard for seven innings last night. All the Dodgers were able to muster off the right-hander were four hits and three walks as Gallardo lowered his ERA to 3.16. Strikeouts have been down for Gallardo as he only struck out four on Monday and only has 63 in 82.2 innings so far this season. However, Gallardo hasn’t missed a beat as he is inducing ground balls at a career high level of 54.5 (per Fangraphs). That appears to be a recipe for success for Gallardo.
10) Robbie Ray Continues to Dominate
In his fourth start with the Diamondbacks, Ray took a no-hitter into the sixth inning and only allowed two hits in seven innings against the Angels on Monday. So far in his four starts, Ray has only allowed three runs in 24.2 innings while also keeping the base paths pretty empty as illustrated by his 0.97 WHIP. The only knock against Ray is that he has just 16 strikeouts in that span, but in the minor leagues he struck out 57 batters in 41.2 innings. I wouldn’t read too much into the lack of major league strikeouts as the sample size is small and his velocity, in the lower to mid-90’s, appears to be consistent. Chalk it up to an adjustment period and make sure that he is owned in your league.