10 Important Stories From 08/09/16 Box Scores: Selling Smyly (And Fast), Velasquez’ Implosion In LA & More

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

It shouldn’t be a surprise that Luis Severino’s first start wasn’t spectacular (5 ER over 4.1 IP), as he took on the Red Sox in Fenway Park.  His next outing, against the Tampa Bay Rays, will be a lot more telling.  Zack Greinke returned from the DL and pitched fairly well in a victory over the Mets, allowing 3 ER on 5 H and 1 BB, striking out 6, over 6.0 IP.  Carlos Correa had a big day at the plate, going 2-4 with 1 HR, 4 RBI and 1 R, helping to guide the Astros to victory.

What else happened on the field that fantasy owners need to know about?  Let’s take a look:

1) Trevor Bauer turns in a gem against the Nationals…
He drew the nearly impossible matchup of Max Scherzer (7.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 H, 1 BB, 10 K), but held his own and walked away with a W.  He threw 6.1 shutout innings allowing 4 H and 2 BB, striking out 4, in what was his best outing in quite some time.  Before we dub him “back” though, remember he’s been trading poor starts with at least decent ones, with 5+ ER allowed in three of his previous five starts, so we need to see him post back-to-back good outings.  Overall his 3.88 ERA and 1.32 WHIP isn’t going to blow you away and his SwStr% (9.2% entering the day, only 7 swinging strikes) and O-Swing% (24.8% entering the day) aren’t going to blow you away.  Sure there’s an improved groundball rate (47.4%, 9 groundballs vs. 6 fly balls yesterday), but it’s not enough to get you overly excited.  Chances are he never lives up to the lofty hype and is more of a hit or miss option.  For the remainder of ’16 he’s hardly a must start.

2) Did Chad Kuhl do enough to earn a rotation spot moving forward…
It was an inauspicious start (though you could argue he should’ve gotten out of the first inning with no damage, with a ball Andrew McCutchen seemed to be able to make a play on going over his head), but he ultimately rebounded.  Yes the start came against the Padres, but he allowed just 2 ER (both in the first inning) on 5 H and 4 BB, striking out 4, over 6.0 IP to get the W.  He’s not going to be a big-time strikeout pitcher (only 2 swinging strikes yesterday), but he should bring enough to go along with control and groundballs:

  • Control – Though he struggled yesterday, he owns a 2.1 BB/9 over his minor league career (1.7 in 16 Triple-A starts this season)
  • Groundballs – He had 10 yesterday, against 4 fly balls, and a 1.61 GO/AO over his minor league career

With enough strikeouts (6.1 K/9 at Triple-A), he should at least be able to be utilized as a streaming option over the remainder of the season (as long as he keeps a rotation spot).

3) Another strong start for Drew Smyly, kind of…
He took on a tough Blue Jays lineup, on the road, so giving up just 2 ER over 6.0 IP is going to open some eyes.  That said he did yield 6 H and 3 BB, striking out just 2, as well as generating just 4 swinging strikes and 6 groundballs (compared to 10 fly balls).  While he’s now allowed 2 ER or fewer in four consecutive starts, he has generated 8 swinging strikes or fewer in three of them and continues to operate as a fairly extreme fly ball pitcher (47.6% entering the day).  While he kept the ball in the ballpark yesterday, it’s something we aren’t willing to bank on moving forward (1.49 HR/9 in ’15, 1.66 entering the day in ’16).  If you can use his recent strong stretch to get something of value back, that may be the most prudent idea.

4) Andrew Benintendi showing that he belongs in the Majors…
He went 3-3 with 1 RBI and 2 R, barely missing his first career home run, and is now 6-7 with 3 RBI and 3 R over his last two games.  He certainly doesn’t appear to be overmatched by Major League pitching, with 3 K over his first 16 AB, though we have to that a little bit of time to manifest itself.  He hasn’t drawn a walk as of yet and skipped Triple-A, though even if he “balloons” from his 11.4% strikeout rate at Double-A how bad will it really be?  He’s still developing his power and should go through some growing pains along the way, but there’s little reason to think that he can’t be a productive option for those in deeper formats over the remainder of the season.

5) Neil Walker doing everything he can to carry the Mets…
Unfortunately he appears to be a one-man team at the moment.  He went 3-4 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 2 R yesterday, giving him home runs in back-to-back games.  Going back to July 27 (13 games) he’s gone 26-53 (.491) with 4 HR, 9 RBI and 10 R.  While we’d like to see more in the runs/RBI department, a lot of that has to do with the struggling lineup around him.  He’s proven to be extremely streaky this season, so you obviously want to ride him while he’s going this well, though it’s hard to imagine him maintaining it.  That said he’s still hitting .273 with 20 HR and 51 RBI and overall there’s nothing unrealistic in his underlying metrics (he entered the day with a .290 BABIP, 20.1% line drive rate and 14.5% HR/FB) and he should at least continue to be a usable option moving forward.

6) What happened to Matt Moore’s control…
He was outpitched by Tom Koehler (7.0 IP, 0 R, 2 H, 3 BB, 6 K), so it was unlikely he was going to get a W regardless of what he did.  That said, while his 2 ER on 3 H with 7 K (17 swinging strikes) over 6.0 IP is solid but he walked 5 batters in the process.  It’s now his third straight start with relatively poor control (4+ BB in each), with 15 BB over 18.2 IP.  Considering his history of control problems it’s a bit of a red flag, though you have to wonder if fatigue is part of the problem.  Remember he threw just 10.0 innings in ’14 before 103.1 IP in ’15 (3.29 BB/9 in 63.0 IP in the Majors).  He’s now up to 142.0 IP this season, having entered the day with a 3.04 BB/9.  It’s definitely something to watch, just in case, but he’s shown enough and is now in a much more favorable locale.  Long-term he’s going to be a good option, so let’s hope he works this out quickly.

7) Another day, another stolen base barrage from Billy Hamilton…
This is just getting silly now, isn’t it?  He went 2-3 with 3 R and 3 SB yesterday, giving him an absurd 9 SB over his past three games.  This is what we’ve been waiting for, isn’t it?  On the season he’s gone 48-for-54 on stolen base attempts, though the bigger key is that he’s getting on base on a regular basis.  He’s walked 4 times over these three games and entered the day with a 23.6% O-Swing% in the second half.  As long as he can continue controlling the strike zone even reasonably close to this, the runs and stolen bases are going to be bountiful.  He’s already up to 26 SB and 18 R since the All-Star Break, while hitting .315.  Suddenly a three-trick pony (instead of just one), he’s proving to be one of the most valuable options in the league.

8) Daniel Norris pitches somewhat well in his return…
The bullpen couldn’t make his outing stand up, turning it into a 15 inning marathon, but that shouldn’t take away from Norris’ performance.  Going 5.0 IP he allowed just 1 ER on 7 H and 2 BB, striking out 3.  While he did have 8 groundballs vs. 4 fly balls, there are a few key facts to remember:

  • The start came against Oakland…
  • There were way too many base runners…
  • He generated just 6 swinging strikes…

He does have strikeout stuff (9.45 K/9 over 14 Triple-A starts this season), but his control can be questionable (3.7 BB/9 in the minors) and he hasn’t shown a lot of groundballs in the Majors (37.4% over the past three seasons).  There are better streaming options to utilize.

9) Vincent Velasquez implodes in LA…
The Dodgers got him for 3 HR, leading to 9 ER on 11 H and 2 BB, striking out 6, over just 4.2 IP.  He’s now thrown 112.1 innings this season, after just 88.2 last season, so you have to wonder how many more starts he has left and if he’s beginning to tire.  He’s shown good strikeout stuff this season, entering the day with an 11.1% SwStr% (13 swinging strikes yesterday), though it appeared like he was a ticking time bomb in regards to the long ball (40.9% fly ball rate, 0.96 HR/9).  While there’s a ton of upside moving forward, for the remainder of ’16 chances are you aren’t going to get enough out of him.

10) Willson Contreras finally hits another home run…
He went 1-3 with 1 HR, 1 RBI and 1 R yesterday, his first home run since July 4.  He got off to a quick start, but it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the power has quickly dissipated (9 HR in 204 AB in the Pacific Coast League prior to his recall).  While he should produce a little bit of power (though his 56.1% groundball rate doesn’t give too much hope), the bigger concern is his meager .265 average.  He’s struggled with strikeouts (13.4% SwStr% entering the day) and line drives (17.8% entering the day).  We’d expect him to have another hot stretch in him, as he adjusts, though hopefully you’ve tempered your expectations a little bit.

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

4 comments

  1. bbboston says:

    Rotoprofessor;

    Feels like Preston Tucker is getting squeezed out again…. Thoughts on his prospects? THANKS!

  2. Timmy says:

    Hey Prof – What are your thoughts on Gurriel down the stretch..can he actually provide fantasy value? If i wanted to trade him for SP what kind of pitcher could I get right now?

  3. mike says:

    Norris didn’t face Oakland he faced Seattle. I agree he didn’t pitch the greatest but Seattle blows away Oakland in my option.

  4. Rotoprofessor says:

    bbboston – It’s only going to get worse once Gurriel is up, so I wouldn’t plan on counting on him.

    Timmy – I would absolutely expect some value,/ If it’s a keeper league, I’d aim high.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *