10 Important Stories From 08/30/16 Box Scores: Under-the-Radar Impact Performers (Cron, McHugh) & More

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, Max Scherzer flirted with a no hitter, this time against the Phillies, finishing allowing 2 ER on 3 H and 1 BB, striking out 11, over 8.0 IP.  It was another dominating performance from Kyle Hendricks, tossing 7.0 shutout innings allowing just 3 H and 1 BB, striking out 4, against the Pirates to earn the W.  Rougned Odor helped bail out Cole Hamels (4.1 IP, 6 ER, 7 H, 4 BB, 4 K), delivering a walkoff home runs (he finished the day 3-5 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 2 R).

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

1) Trevor Plouffe continues to hit…
He went 2-5 with 1 RBI yesterday, his fourth straight two-hit performance (and his fifth in his past nine games).  It goes even further back than that, though, as he was hitting .245 on August 12.  Since then he’s gone 20-58 with 2 HR, 14 RBI and 7 R, raising his average to .265.  He entered the day continuing to show a strong command of the strike zone this season, with an 8.7% SwStr% and 25.5% O-Swing%, and there’s a little bit more power upside in his bat (10.5% HR/FB overall, but in the second half his groundball rate is elevated at 47.4%).  It’s hard not to like what he’s done and with a spot locked up in the middle of the lineup the production should continue to be there.  Consider him a strong play in all formats.

2) An impressive MLB debut from JaCoby Jones…
He started at third base yesterday, going 2-4 with 2 RBI and 1 R, and he should continue to see AB there (at least for now).  He’s certainly an intriguing callup, having hit .257 with 7 HR and 13 SB in 369 AB between Double and Triple-A this season.  He brings a blend of power and speed (last season he had 16 HR and 25 SB), though there are concerns about his ability to make consistent contact (120 K this season, 165 K in 525 AB in ’15).  Prior to the season we ranked him as the Tigers’ third best prospect, giving him a “B” grade, citing the concerns about the strikeouts at the time (click here for our Top 10).  There’s a good chance that he makes at least a short-term impact, until MLB pitchers adjust to him, but time will tell.  At the very least he’s well worth grabbing in all deeper formats.

3) Julio Teheran shuts down the Padres…
He went 7.0 innings allowing 2 ER on 6 H and 0 BB, striking out 8, making one mistake, a two-run home run to Oswaldo Arcia (2-4, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 R).  It was an important bounce back performance, after allowing 6 ER on 11 H to the Diamondbacks in his last start and failing to strikeout more than 5 in six straight starts.  Of course, before we get excited about the Ks keep in mind he managed just 10 swinging strikes yesterday.  That hasn’t been a problem overall, entering the day with a 10.1% SwStr, and it was at 11.0% in the second half, so there’s every reason to believe that he will continue improving in that department.  Couple that with elite control (1.98 BB/9) and enough groundballs and he should remain a good option moving forward.  The biggest issue is going to be his ability to get wins, though that’s something we’ve become accustomed to.

4) Could Seth Lugo hold value for the Mets…
New York has been decimated by injuries, but thus far they’ve been able to piece things together and remain relevant.  Lugo has been one of the keys, earning the W yesterday against the Marlins as he allowed 2 ER on 5 H and 1 BB, striking out 4, over 6.0 IP.  In his three starts he’s allowed just 5 ER over 17.2 IP, though that’s not to say that he’s a lock to continue producing.  He’s not a big strikeout pitcher, with a 7.61 K/9 at Triple-A this season (73.1 IP) and just 7 swinging strikes yesterday.  He also isn’t a big groundball pitcher, meaning home runs could be a problem at times (he allowed one to Christian Yelich yesterday).  Sure the control is solid, but is one out of three skills really enough?  He’s going to be a tough sell as a pitcher to trust.

5) James Paxton underwhelms against the Rangers…
He did tear off a fingernail, which could have contributed to the issue, but he still allowed 4 ER on 8 H and 1 BB, striking out 4, over 5.0 IP.  He’s now allowed 15 H over his past 10.0 IP (the two starts since returning from the DL) and the time off appears to have had a negative impact on him.  He had been figuring it out on the mound and looked primed to emerge late in the season, though with the newest injury it’s fair to wonder if he’s going to be able to get there.  Is he worth owning?  Absolutely, but right now it also makes sense to be conservative with him until he shows signs of turning it back around (or the matchup screams must play).  Consider him a matchup play short-term, but he could return to must start status with one or two strong starts.

6) It was a dominating performance from Wily Peralta…
He allowed 1 ER on 3 H and 1 BB, striking out 10, over 7.0 innings though he had to settle for a no decision.  He made one mistake with a solo home run to Jedd Gyorko (1-4, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R), though that’s become common place in the second half.  Peralta generated a massive 20 swings and misses, while also inducing 6 groundballs (compared to 3 fly balls).  Since returning in August he now has shown the skills we generally look for:

  • Strikeouts – 8.10 K/9 (10.8% SwStr%)
  • Control – 3.00 BB/9
  • Groundballs – 51.3%

He has been plagued by home runs (18.2% HR/FB) and has benefited from an 84.5% strand rate, so it’s hard to get overly excited.  That said he’s always shown potential and maybe he’s turned the corner?  At the very least he could be a viable matchup play down the stretch.

7) Collin McHugh shuts down the A’s…
He went 6.0 shutout innings allowing 4 H and 1 BB, striking out 5.  You certainly could argue that he showed more strikeout stuff, with 20 swinging strikes.  Overall he’s shown that ability, with an 11.0% SwStr% and 33.7% O-Swing%, which alone makes it impossible to give up on him even if he does struggle (especially when combined with a 2.49 BB/9).  His home runs are up this season, with a 1.40 HR/9, though it’s easy to expect an improvement there (14.1% HR/FB compared to a career mark of 11.5%).  He’s also struggled with poor luck, with a .361 BABIP.  In other words this start could easily be just the start of his turnaround.

8) The young Yankees continue to struggle…
Outside of Gary Sanchez, of course.  Sure Aaron Judge connected on a home run, but overall the team’s two recent callups have not been lighting things up:

  • Aaron Judge – 1-5, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 R, 2 K
  • Tyler Austin – 0-4, 3 K

Judge now has at least 1 K in 13 straight games, including 7 over his past 11 AB, and owns a massive 41.4% strikeout rate.  Austin hasn’t had quite that type of trouble, though he does have 12 K over 36 AB and is struggling to a .167 average.  They are going to continue to play, and are worth stashing, but it’s also hard to depend on either of them at the moment.

9) C.J. Cron crushes a pair of home runs…
He went 2-4 with 2 HR, 3 RBI and 2 R, helping to lead the Angels to victory.  He now has 3 HR and 5 RBI over his past two games and is on a seven-game hitting streak (13-29, 3 HR, 8 RBI, 5 R).  On the season he’s hitting .288 with 14 HR and 58 RBI over 299 AB.  The power is about where we’d have expected, and the big development has been his improvement in the strikeout rate (24.1% in ’14 to 20.3% in ’15 to 14.0% this season).  Maybe he’s not this good, considering a 35.5% O-Swing%, but he’s definitely shown growth and should continue to produce moving forward.  An under-the-radar option, he’s likely going to make an impact moving forward.

10) Hunter Pence returns to the lineup with a bang…
Playing for the first time since August 25, he went 3-3 with 1 R (and one of the hits was a double).  The year has been marred by injuries for Pence, and it’s easy to cut bait and move on.  Given his history and potential, that could prove to be a bit of a hasty decision.  At the same time, just how high is his ceiling at this point.  He owns a 17.3% line drive rate (17.0% last season) and a .340 BABIP (though he’s typically carried an elevated mark).  His 53.3% groundball rate is going to limit his power, and his strikeouts (21.5%) and swinging strike rate (12.6%) remain elevated.  While he should produce, he’s not likely going to suddenly morph back into the player he once was.

Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs, MILB.com


  1. bartonrp says:

    Where do you get your statistics for swinging strikes per game?

  2. Carlito says:

    ROS Pence or J Upton?

  3. Rotoprofessor says:

    bartonrp – It’s actually right on ESPN’s box score. They show the breakdown of each pitcher’s strikes.

    Carlito – Upton

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