10 Important Stories From 09/09/16 Box Scores: Trea Turner’s Greatness (But Risk Of Regression) & More

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

Rick Porcello is the first pitcher to reach 20 W in ’16, allowing 2 ER on 6 H and 1 BB, striking out 7, over 7.0 IP to defeat the Blue Jays.  Clayton Kershaw made his much anticipated return, allowing 2 ER on 5 H and 0 BB, striking out 5, over 3.0 IP.  Jon Lester stymied the Astros, tossing 7.0 shutout innings allowing 7 H and 0 BB, striking out 7.  What else happened on the field that we need to know about?  Let’s take a look:

1) Michael Pineda shows some good in an inconsistent outing…
He went 4.2 innings against the Rays allowing 2 R on 6 H and 2 BB, striking out 7.  It was a rain delay that forced his exit, not his performance, though it’s not necessarily like he was lights out with a pair of home runs allowed.  Length has not been there of late, as the last time he went past 6.0 innings was July 25 and he’s only pitched more than 5.1 innings once in his past five starts (6.0 innings on August 29).  That said he generated an impressive 18 swinging strikes, backing up his impressive 14.0% SwStr% and 35.1% O-Swing% entering the day.  Home runs continue to be among his issues, as well as poor luck (.343 BABIP, 68.3% strand rate).  Interestingly, the different issues have plagued him depending on where he’s pitched:

  • Home – 18 HR allowed
  • Road – .378 BABIP, 62.3% strand rate

At the end of the day the makeup is still there to be among the elite, and considering the discount he’ll likely come at next season that makes him well worth targeting late in your drafts.

2) Will Trea Turner ever slow down…
He went 2-5 with 2 HR, 3 RBI and 2 R yesterday, giving him a six-game hitting streak (11-28, 3 HR, 8 RBI, 4 R, 1 SB).  Overall he’s now hitting .345 with 8 HR and 21 SB over 223 AB, as he’s entrenched himself atop the Nationals’ order.  There was never a question about his speed, though there’s reason to believe that both his average and power will regress over the final few weeks.  Granted, his 10.7% HR/FB entering the day isn’t unrealistic, so maybe it’s more the average that’s in doubt:

  • .404 BABIP
  • 18.9% Strikeout Rate
  • 3.1% Walk Rate

Regardless of his speed/line drive rate, that BABIP is impossible to sustain.  Throw in what has been rather poor plate discipline (10.5% SwStr%, 34.1% O-Swing%), and the strikeouts can also rise.  That’s not to say that he’s going to plummet, just keep things in perspective and know the risks.

3) Is Josh Reddick finally heating up…
While there was no counting stats with the production yesterday, he went 3-4 despite Jose Fernandez (7.0 IP, 0 R, 3 H, 3 BB, 14 K) being on the mound.  He now has hits in seven straight games, going 13-24 with 1 HR, 3 RBI and 5 R.  Obviously it’s not a lot, but it’s easy to imagine this just being the start of a true scorching hot performance.  Even as he’s struggled with LA he has made consistent contact (15.1% strikeout rate) and also hit the ball hard (24.7% line drive rate), with the big problem being obvious poor luck (.244 BABIP).  Things are turning, so if someone in your league lost hope grab him now and reap the benefits.

4) Robert Gsellman pitches well, until he doesn’t…
Through 4.0 innings he was rolling, then things fell apart with two outs in the fifth.  At the end of the day he allowed 4 ER on 7 H and 2 BB, striking out 6, over 5.0 IP against the Braves, though the line doesn’t really do his performance justice.  Remember he owned a 2.71 ERA over 11 starts at Double-A, before being pushed to Las Vegas where the numbers didn’t look good (5.73 ERA) thanks to home run issues (1.48 HR/9).  He’s not going to be a high level option, especially with limited strikeout stuff (despite what he did yesterday), though he does have potential as a matchup play over the final few weeks.  Don’t ignore him, but don’t expect him to be a can’t miss option either.

5) Carlos Rodon continues to roll…
At this point strong performances should simply be expected from him, and he stymied the Royals yesterday allowing 2 R (1 earned) on 6 H and 2 BB, striking out 9, over 6.0 IP.  He generated 16 swinging strikes yesterday, a big jump from the 7 he had against the Twins his last time out, and if he can maintain this type of mark the upside is Top 25 starter (9.6% SwStr% entering the day).  Over his past seven starts he hasn’t allowed more than 3 ER and he’s also started to keep the ball in the ballpark, 2 HR in 43.2 IP.  That’s the other key turn around, though he also continues to be more of a fly ball pitcher (3 groundballs vs. 6 fly balls yesterday).  It’s something that needs to be watched closely, as he’s not necessarily a must start based on the matchup.

6) One mistake costs Joe Musgrove…
It was a tough matchup against the Cubs, but Musgrove shined allowing 2 R on 3 H and 3 BB, striking out 5, over 6.0 IP.  His one mistake came against Kris Bryant (1-3, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 R), and that ultimately cost him the game.  It was a strong bounce back performance (5 ER over 4.1 IP at Texas his last time out), but that speaks to the inconsistency of young pitching.  He’s also “struggled” with walks, to an extent, as of late with 8 BB over his past 15.2 IP and home runs have been a significant issue (8 HR over 43.1 IP).  Those types of marks make him tough to trust with your season hanging in the balance, though the upside is there depending on your situation.

7) Does Brandon Drury deserve regular playing time…
When he’s been on the field of late he’s delivered, including going 2-5 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 1 R yesterday.  In his past eight games (dating back to August 26) he has five multi-hit performances, going 12-32 with 1 HR, 6 RBI and 5 R.  For a team that is obviously going nowhere, what do they have to lose getting him in the lineup?  He entered the day with a 51.2% groundball rate, so the power production is going to be questionable, but he’s made contact (9.6% SwStr%) and hit the ball hard.  He’s also going well right now, and the latest injury to A.J. Pollock could open up a spot in the outfield on a nightly basis.  Don’t be surprised if the team tries to see what he can do, and it makes sense for those in deeper formats to consider grabbing him and seeing what he can do.

8) Tyler Skaggs has the strikeout pitch working…
Going 6.0 shutout innings against the Rangers he racked up 8 K against the Rangers.  Of course he only generated 10 swinging strikes and also walked 4 batters, so the performance certainly had it’s flaws.  The swinging strikes haven’t been there since his return (8.2% SwStr% entering the day), and it’s hard to envision him maintaining his impressive marks.  He also hasn’t been a big groundball producer (43.5%, 5 groundballs vs. 5 fly balls yesterday), adding an extra layer of risk.  He’s not an unusable option, but he also isn’t one that we’d consider significantly trustworthy either.  He’ll likely be a backend option in ’17 and it all depends on your needs for the remainder of ’16.

9) Byron Buxton continues to hit…
He went 1-4 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 2 R, his second consecutive game with a HR and his fifth in September.  The power barrage is a bit unexpected, though he did hit 11 HR in 209 PA at Triple-A this season.  The bigger concern is that despite the strong performance, the strikeouts have continued to pile up as he has 8 K over his past five games and entered the day with a 25.9% strikeout rate in September.  He also hasn’t been stealing bases, which is supposed to be his calling card at this point in his career.  Ride him while he’s hot, but the power will likely slow down (and quickly) so if he doesn’t adjust a bit more the performance is going to fall off a cliff.  Long-term this is promising, but there is going to be a few more bumps along the way.

10) Michael Fulmer showing no signs of slowing down…
Taking on the Orioles he was terrific, allowing 2 ER on 3 H and 1 BB, striking out 5, over 7.0 IP though he ultimately settled for a no decision.  Sure he’s had a few bad starts mixed in here and there, but overall he continues to be a steady force in the Tigers rotation (3 ER or fewer in seven of his past eight starts).  He’s the obvious AL Rookie of the Year, though it is still possible that the Tigers at least try to conserve his arm a bit over the final few weeks.  As it is he’s already thrown 143.2 IP this season, after throwing 124.1 last season, though the Tigers need him now as they are still battling for a postseason spot.  It’ll be interesting to watch, but when he’s on the mound he’s worth using in all formats.

Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs

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