10 Important Stories From 04/05/16 Box Scores: A. Sanchez Shines, S. Miller Struggles & More

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

Carlos Correa led the way for the Astros, going 1-4 with 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 R and 2 SB.  Noah Syndergaard put up a dominating performance against the Royals, tossing 6.0 shutout innings allowing 3 H and 1 BB, striking out 9.  Trevor Story continued the amazing start to his career, going 1-4 with his third home run of the season.  What else happened on the field yesterday that fantasy owners need to know about?  Let’s take a look:

1) Aaron Hicks draws the start against a southpaw…
He didn’t do much with the opportunity, despite hitting second, as he went 0-2 with 1 BB.  The big question is if this is an indication that Brett Gardner could be ticketed for a platoon?  He ultimately pinch hit for Hicks (he went 0-1), but the idea of a platoon seems a bit odd when we look at Gardner’s splits from ’15:

  • vs. RHP – .252/.335/.399
  • vs. LHP – .276/.361/.400

Gardner is a career .260 hitter against southpaws (.266 against righties), so chances are this was an isolated situation.  That’s not to say that he can’t get a day off against a tough lefty, but don’t reach the conclusion that this is going to be a straight platoon at this point.

2) Michael Wacha struggles in his first start…
Taking on the Pirates he failed to get out of the fifth inning, allowing 5 R (4 earned) on 10 H and 1 BB, striking out 3, over 4.1 innings.  It’s just one start, but we do have to remember that he’s carried elevated line drive rates the past two seasons (22.1% and 22.2%) and also saw his SwStr% drop last season (9.5%).  We are not recommending pushing the panic button after just one start, but risk of a regression in his BABIP (.272 in ’15) and the potential lack in strikeouts certainly makes him a pitcher to monitor closely.

3) Justin Verlander was impressive, until he wasn’t…
Verlander carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning, but ultimately allowed 3 R on 3 H and 2 BB, striking out 5, over 6.0 IP with his one mistake coming on a home run to Giancarlo Stanton (1-4, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 R).  He still left with the lead, though the bullpen ultimately coughed it up.  We all know that Verlander is no longer the pitcher that he once was and his fly ball tendencies (4 groundball outs vs. 5 fly outs) is a carryover from last season (45.5% fly ball rate).  If it continues it’s going to likely mean more home runs allowed, so it’s something to watch.

4) Aaron Sanchez steals the show…
After a strong preseason, leading to him winning a spot in the rotation, Sanchez thrived in his first start of the season.  Taking on the Rays he allowed 1 ER on 5 H and 0 BB, striking out 8, over 7.0 IP but the bullpen was unable to get the job done and get him the W.  We knew he’d generate groundballs (he had 8 groundouts vs. 2 fly outs), the question was going to be if he could get enough swings and misses.  He had an 8.8 K/9 coming up through the minors and generated 15 swings and misses yesterday, so there is hope that he can continue to generate strikeouts.

5) Can Domingo Santana remain atop the Brewers lineup…
He was there for the second straight day, going 0-4 (he’s now 2-9 to open the season).  He didn’t strike out, which is one of the biggest concerns (33.7% in the Majors in ’15), though he had a pair of Ks on Opening Day.  The Brewers do have alternatives for the spot (Keon Broxton, Jonathan Villar), though they all carry the same type of issue in their skillset.  At least Santana draws the potential to draw a significant number of walks, though he also isn’t a significant stolen base threat (6 SB in ’15).  It will be interesting to see how long the Brewers stick with him atop the order, though his value does increase slightly for as long as he’s there.

6) It was a poor Arizona debut for Shelby Miller…
We can’t say we are completely surprised as Miller took one on the chin, allowing 6 ER on 8 H and 1 BB, striking out 2, over 6.0 IP.  The issue was a trio of home runs, as Trevor Story, Nick Hundley and D.J. LeMahieu all took him deep.  Obviously he’s not going to be this bad, though we’ve cautioned that Miller was likely going to be overvalued entering the season.  Home runs have been an issue in the past (HR/9 of 1.04 and 1.08 in 2013 and 2014), but the more concerning number may be the mere 4 swinging strikes he generated.  He should be better than that, but he isn’t a big-time strikeout pitcher (9.2% SwStr% in ’15) and there is significant risk moving forward.

7) Jorge Soler DH’s for second straight day…
Opening the season against the Angels allowed the Cubs to utilize Jorge Soler in the DH spot to open the season.  However, after going 0-4 with 2 K yesterday he failed to impress (1-8 with 3 K over the two games).  What’s even more interesting is that Kyle Schwarber was out of the lineup yesterday, but it was Matt Szcur who played leftfield (and he played well, going 2-4 with 1 HR, 1 RBI and 2 R and now has 4 RBI over the first two games).  There are certainly significant questions about Soler’s playing time moving forward and he’s only worth stashing in the deepest of formats.

8) Scott Kazmir thrives in his Dodgers debut…
Taking on the Padres he tossed 6.0 shutout innings allowing just 1 H and 0 BB, striking out 5.  Of course he was lifted after just 75 pitches, was facing San Diego and managed just 7 swinging strikes.  There is a lot of upside and reason to think the strikeouts will be there, as they were yesterday (10.3% SwStr% pitching in the AL last season).

9) Is Rajai Davis really the best option atop Cleveland’s lineup…
Given the outfield issues it’s not a surprise that he was starting in centerfield nor was it a real surprise that he was slotted in the leadoff spot.  At the same time he ultimately struck out 3 times in 4 AB, a bit of a concern after he posted a 20.5% strikeout rate in ’15.  Of course it mostly came against David Price, so there’s no shame in the performance, but he also has generally failed to draw walks (5.6% for his career) and saw his stolen base total drop significantly last season (18 SB over 370 PA).  While he was slotted there yesterday, don’t view him as the solution there this season.

10) Jose Quintana solid in season debut…
Taking on the A’s he allowed 2 ER on 7 H and 0 BB, striking out 7, over 5.2 IP.  Often viewed as a solid, yet unspectacular, starter the big takeaway here may be his control.  It was assumed it would regress after posting a 1.92 BB/9 last season, though we don’t want to assume that it won’t be an issue moving forward (it’s quite likely that he does see a regression.  There’s also the consistently elevated line drive rate (21.8% for his career), so don’t get too excited off this one outing.

Sources – ESPN, MLB.com, Fangraphs

One comment

  1. TreeFrog says:

    I wish Cleveland would give Jose Ramirez a chance…. Keep giving ABs to guys like Davis, Uribe, Cowgirl, etc. and have talent wasting away on the bench.

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