by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Luke Weaver had a solid debut, allowing 2 ER on 4 H and 3 BB, striking out 3, over 4.0 IP against the Cubs (though Alex Reyes, who came on in relief, was far more impressive with 3.0 shutout innings allowing 1 H and 1 BB while striking out 3). Adam Conley continues to struggle, especially with his control, allowing 5 ER on 5 H and 4 BB, striking out 4, over 4.0 IP (17 BB over his last 19.2 IP). Brian Dozier continued to thrive, going 2-4 with 1 HR, 1 RBI and 2 R. What else happened on the field? Let’s take a look:
1) We got a glimpse into the future of the Yankees…
The Yankees began their transition to the future, summoning both Aaron Judge and Tyler Austin to the Majors and inserting them immediately into the lineup. All they did was slug back-to-back home runs in their first AB in the Majors, with each producing impressive debuts:
- Austin – 2-4, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R
- Judge – 2-4, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 R
Judge is the bigger named prospect and does have more upside, especially in the power department. While Austin’s Triple-A numbers were impressive (.323, 13 HR, 49 RBI), keep in mind that there is concerns with his strikeout rate (21.9% at Double-A, 25.2% at Triple-A) and he benefitted from some extreme luck (.400 BABIP). Remember he’s a career .287 hitter in the minors and had 4 HR in 177 AB at Double-A this season prior to his promotion. In other words, there’s reason to be skeptical moving forward. Use him while he’s going well, but don’t become infatuated.
2) Kyle Hendricks continues to thrive on the mound…
The bullpen wasted the performance, but it was a dominating effort from Hendricks against the Cardinals as he allowed just 2 ER on 5 H and 0 BB, striking out 12, over 7.0 IP. While he made a pair of mistakes (both solo home runs), he obviously deserved a better fate. The strikeout number is not the norm (he entered the day with a 7.58 K/9), though he clearly had it working with 22 swinging strikes. He does it more with groundballs (51.8%) and control (2.37 BB/9), so if the strikeouts can stay even slightly elevated he’s going to continue to dominate. That’s not to say that he’s going to be quite this good (.249 BABIP, 79.7% strand rate), but he’s going to be a solid option nonetheless.
3) A strong start for the returning Reynaldo Lopez…
The bullpen tried to cough up the lead, but Lopez ultimately got the W after 7.0 solid innings. Yes it was against Atlanta, but he still allowed just 1 ER on 5 H and 2 BB, striking out 2, for his first career victory. He wasn’t getting many swings and misses (8), something he also wasn’t generating many of in his four Triple-A starts (7.62 K/9). Pitching for the Nationals you can be successful with that type of number, especially when you pair it with solid control and enough groundballs (1.29 GO/AO over his minor league career). He has a chance to stick in the rotation, as Joe Ross remains without a return timeframe, so grabbing him and playing the matchups makes plenty of sense.
4) Another start, another struggle for Archie Bradley…
It’s easy to give him a pass, considering he started in Boston, but he still allowed 6 R (4 earned) on 7 H and 2 BB, striking out 2, over 5.1 IP. He’s now gone 5.1 innings or less in three straight starts, giving up 14 ER on 22 H and 7 BB over 13.1 IP during this stretch. He owns a 4.53 BB/9 over his 17 starts in the Majors, but has been even worse since the All-Star Break (strikeout rate // walk rate):
- Pre-Break (64.0 IP) – 9.28 // 4.22
- Post-Break (31.1 IP) – 7.47 // 5.17
His SwStr% hasn’t been impressive, with an overall 7.6% mark, so the drop in strikeouts shouldn’t be surprising. He also has often been plagued by control issues, so that too isn’t an unreasonable mark. Throw in some home runs (1.32 HR/9), and you get a pitcher you want to avoid for the remainder of ’16.
5) Tyler Duffey turns in a strong start…
He went through a horrendous stretch, but has now pitched well in back-to-back outings. Taking on the Royals yesterday he allowed 2 ER on 6 H and 1 BB, striking out 6, over 7.0 IP and he’s now allowed 3 ER over 13.0 IP in his past two starts, both of which have come at home. That’s important, because even with these good starts there’s still a big discrepancy in his numbers:
- Home – 6.67 ERA
- Road – 4.56 ERA
While there has been some overall bad luck (.335 BABIP, 65.0% strand rate), the biggest problem has been the long ball (1.57 HR/9). That shouldn’t be this big of an issue (47.6% groundball rate) and he also has enough control to make him a good source of WHIP. Don’t write him off based on the overall numbers.
6) Does the White Sox’ Jason Coats warrant our attention…
With Avisail Garcia hitting the DL Coats has a chance to earn playing time and make an impact. He went 2-4 with 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 R and 1 SB yesterday, certainly making his case. He was hitting .329 with 8 HR (as well as 17 doubles and 2 triples) and 1 SB over 246 AB at Triple-A, though he showed a little bit more speed last season (when he hit 17 HR with 11 SB over 489 AB at Triple-A). Sure his Triple-A BABIP was extreme (.401), but he showed enough of an ability to make contact at the level over the past two seasons (17.5% in ’15, 20.8% in ’16) to have hope. The potential is there for him to earn fairly regular playing time, so those in deeper formats should have him on their radars.
7) Matt Boyd tosses a gem against the Texas Rangers…
Going 7.0 innings he allowed 0 R on 2 H and 2 BB, striking out 3, to clearly outpitch Cole Hamels (7.0 IP, 2 R, 14 H, 3 BB, 5 K). Obviously we’d like to see more strikeouts for Boyd, who had just 6 swinging strikes on the night. He has shown more in the past (8.02 K/9 at Triple-A this season), with the bigger issue likely being his lack of groundballs. Yesterday he had 6 groundballs vs. 12 fly balls, making him incredibly prone to home runs (1.44 HR/9 in the Majors in ’16). While he kept the ball in the ballpark yesterday, and does generate popups (18.8% IFFB in ’16), but there’s a lot of risk. Considering him a streaming option, but little else.
8) A somewhat effectively wild start for Kevin Gausman…
He lasted just 4.0 innings against the Giants, allowing 2 ER on 2 H and 6 BB, striking out 9. Between the walks and the strikeouts he needed 97 pitches to get 12 outs, which cost him any chance of going deep into the game. Control has generally not been an issue, with a 2.62 BB/9 on the season, so we would chalk that up to an aberration. The bigger issue is his continued propensity for home runs, with a 1.57 HR/9 (though he did keep the ball in the ballpark yesterday). As long as he does that he will generally have success, which surprisingly has been more at home than on the road (ERA // HR allowed):
- Home – 2.39 // 6
- Road – 5.32 // 15
For now consider him a must start at home, though he has the potential to develop into significantly more than that.
9) Mike Clevinger twirls a gem against the Angels…
He outpitched Matt Shoemaker (5.0 IP, 5 R, 12 H, 0 BB, 3 K), allowing 1 ER on 1 H and 4 BB, striking out 3, over 5.2 IP. Obviously his control has been an issue in the Majors (5.81 BB/9), though he was showing impressive strikeout (9.39 K/9) and walk (3.39 BB/9) rates over 93.0 innings at Triple-A this season. The biggest problems have come off his fastball (.421 BAA/.711 SLG), which is something that he should be able to correct. Home runs could be an issue, but there’s enough upside and potential to put him on the radars of those in deeper formats (at the least as a streaming option) for as long as he’s in the Indians’ rotation.
10) Should Keon Broxton be playing regularly for the Brewers…
He went 2-4 with 1 RBI and 1 R, hitting seventh, and it’s easy to argue that he could form an impressive 1-2 punch atop the order with Jonathan Villar (sending Orlando Arcia back down in the order). He’s hitting .407 (11-27) with 1 HR and 4 SB in August, though he continues to share playing time in centerfield. The thing to watch closely is his strikeout rate, as he does continue to have issues there (9 K in August). While it’s better than his early season struggles, a 28.1% strikeout rate for a player who utilizes his speed isn’t going to get it done. Yes he does draw walks, something he’s always shown capable, but he needs to make better contact if he wants to truly earn every day AB.
Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs, MILB.com, Brooks Baseball