by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Yoenis Cespedes had a productive day, going 1-4 with 1 HR, 5 RBI and 1 R. Chris Sale had the strikeout working (12 K over 8.0 IP), but a pair of mistakes led to him being saddled with an L. Edwin Encarnacion had a big day at the plate, going 3-4 with 2 HR, 3 RBI and 3 R. What else happened on the field that we need to know about? Let’s take a look:
1) The recent inconsistency of Aaron Sanchez continues…
It was a tough matchup, taking on the Red Sox, but that doesn’t make it any better as Sanchez allowed 6 ER on 5 H and 4 BB, striking out 2, over 3.2 IP. Even more disturbing was that he generated just 4 groundballs as compared to 5 fly balls, considering that his strengths are generally his control (2.71 BB/9 entering the day) and groundball rate (56.4%). It’s the third time in his past six starts that he’s allowed at least 4 ER, as he’s seen his ERA rise from 2.71 to 3.17. You have to wonder if the workload is a factor, and that the Blue Jays previous consideration of shifting him to the bullpen was a prudent one. Time will tell if they reverse course and shift him there now, but it certainly should be on the table.
2) Jose Urena throws a gem against the Dodgers…
He came within an out of a complete game shutout, allowing 4 H and 0 BB, striking out 4, over 8.2 IP. He’s split time between starting and relieving this season, but his numbers as a starter have been extremely underwhelming as he owned a 4.63 ERA entering the day. The skillset behind the ERA also was nothing to call home about:
- Strikeouts – 6.85 K/9
- Walks – 2.82 BB/9
- Groundballs – 46.0% (12 groundballs vs. 10 fly balls yesterday)
Throw in a 22.6% line drive rate while starting and an overall 8.5% SwStr% (10 swinging strikes yesterday), there’s nothing to get excited about. It was a great start, but don’t expect much down the stretch.
3) Another mostly good start from Brandon Finnegan…
He tossed 5.0 shutout innings against the Pirates, allowing 5 H with 7 K. However it took him 95 pitches, in part thanks to walking 5. It’s been an issue, at times, as he’s now issued 9 BB over his past 10.0 IP and this is the third time in his past seven games that he’s walked 4+ batters. With a 4.9 BB/9 in his 44.1 innings at Triple-A last season, it shouldn’t be a complete surprise that he’s had his issues. He also hasn’t generated many groundballs this season, with a 39.0% mark entering the day (2 groundballs vs. 6 fly balls yesterday). Poor control + fly ball issues are generally a formula for disaster, so it’s something to keep in mind. With his strikeout stuff he’s worth monitoring, but there are likely going to be bumps along the way and he’s hardly a lock to develop.
4) Another start, another struggle for Jose Berrios…
Taking on the Indians he lasted just 2.2 innings allowing 5 R (3 earned) on 3 H and 4 BB, striking out 1. He’s now allowed 4+ runs in six straight starts and owns an ugly 9.27 ERA and 2.01 WHIP in 11 starts in the Majors. What is the issue for a pitcher who was a dominant force at Triple-A (2.51 ERA, 10.10 K/9)? He’s not only been getting hit extremely hard (24.4% line drive rate), but the ball has been flying out of the ballpark (1.93 HR/9, and he allowed another home run yesterday). He also hasn’t shown elite strikeout stuff, despite his impressive numbers in the minors, as he entered the day with a rather ordinary 9.3% SwStr% and 28.2% O-Swing%. It’s impossible to think anything is going to change over the final few weeks, as much as we’d like to hope that it would. In redraft formats it’s safe to move on.
5) Zach Davies stymies the Cardinals…
He finished allowed 1 ER on 5 H and 1 BB, striking out 7, over 7.1 IP. While he wasn’t able to secure a W (Luke Weaver virtually matched him pitch for pitch, allowing 1 ER on 3 H and 1 BB, striking out 8, over 6.0 IP), the performance was impressive nonetheless. Davies now owns a 3.87 ERA and 1.23 WHIP on the season, as he’s rebounded well from a poor stretch (3 ER or less in four straight starts). Of course you can also argue that the upside is limited, given the following underlying metrics entering the day:
- Strikeouts – 7.40 K/9 (8.3% SwStr%)
- Walks – 2.22 BB/9
- Groundballs – 45.5%
Consider him a solid, low-end option but nothing more than that despite the strong start.
6) The strong performance of Andrelton Simmons turns powerful…
He’s not known for his home run potential (at least since his big ’13), but he delivered yesterday with 2 HR. It’s the continuation of what has been a strong September, as he’s gone 11-32 with 2 HR, 7 RBI, 6 R and 2 SB (and he now has an 8-game hitting streak). He’s continued to make consistent contact (8.5% strikeout rate) and it’s easy to argue a little bit of bad luck (.306 BABIP, 20.0% line drive rate), though a .286 average is solid. The problem is that he doesn’t bring significant power (3 HR) or speed (7 SB), so ride him while he’s hot but be ready to move on.
7) Mike Zunino continues to muscle up…
He went 2-4 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 1 R yesterday, giving him home runs in back-to-back games and 11 HR over 118 AB on the season. Of course power was never a significant question, though this is a bit extreme (27.0% HR/FB entering the day), the problem has always been his ability to make consistent contact. That’s continued to be an issue this season, with a 30.7% strikeout rate (15.5% SwStr%, plus 1 K yesterday), and has helped him to a .229 average. Throw in a 51.4% fly ball rate, showing that he’s clearly swinging for the fences, and there’s little chance that he ever posts a usable average. Keep that in mind, as he’s only usable if you are looking for power and little else.
8) Matt Moore dominate the Diamondbacks…
He went 7.0 innings allowing 2 ER on 8 H and 1 BB, striking out 11. It’s a huge bounce back performance, after he allowed 6 ER over 2.2 innings in his previous start (albeit in Coors Field). You take that one out (which is fair), and it would appear that Moore is enjoying his time in the NL West (3 ER with 25 K over 21.0 IP). As it is, since the trade he has 7+ K in five of his eight starts since the trade. Overall this season he’s shown improved control (3.45 BB/9) with strikeout stuff (10.0% SwStr%, 19 swinging strikes yesterday), and he’s now in a pitcher friendly ballpark and benefits from the loss of the DH. As we’ve said since the trade, there’s a lot to love moving forward.
9) Is it too late for Corey Dickerson…
He went 3-4 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 1 R yesterday, his fourth straight multi-hit game (9-16, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 1 R). Of course, this hot stretch has simply raised his average to .240 and gives him 19 HR and 58 RBI on the season. It’s easy to point to taking him out of Coors Field as a reason for his struggles, which certainly is fair and certainly could help explain a bit of a change in approach at the plate:
- Line Drive Rate – 16.6%
- Groundball Rate – 37.8%
- Fly Ball Rate – 45.6%
Keep in mind that he owns a career 23.8% line drive rate and 38.3% fly ball rate, showing that he’s clearly swinging for the fences. It’s possible that he’s made an adjustment, as he entered the day with a 27.3% line drive rate and 36.4% fly ball rate in September, so there is still hope for the remainder of this season and moving forward. It’s certainly something to keep a close eye on.
10) Is Seth Lugo really this good…
He did it again, this time against the Braves, allowing 2 R on 6 H and 1 BB, striking out 5, over 7.0 IP. The performances improves him to 4-2 with a 2.40 ERA 0.99 WHIP, as he’s been tremendous in his five starts (8 ER over 31.2 IP). Of course he entered the day with a .237 BABIP and 80.6% strand rate, despite a 20.2% line drive rate, and he hasn’t shown significant strikeout stuff (8.9% SwStr%, 11 swinging strikes yesterday). In other words, while he’s been pitching extremely well of late he’s an impossible pitcher to trust.
Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs, Baseball Reference