by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Julio Urias struggled in what could be his final start of ’16, despite not allowing a run, as he allowed 4 H and 3 BB, striking out 2, over 3.2 IP (78 pitches). Noah Syndergaard was dominant against the Nationals, allowing 1 R on 4 H and 1 BB, striking out 10, over 7.0 IP but his bullpen and defense cost him from getting a W. Ryan Schimpf continues his impressive power display, with a 2-out, 3 R home run to sink the Giants (he finished 2-5 with 1 HR, 3 RBI and 1 R). What else happened on the field that we need to know about? Let’s take a look:
1) CC Sabathia continues to reinvent himself…
Granted it was against the Dodgers, where any left-handed starter is worth considering, but Sabathia still tossed 6.1 shutout innings allowing just 3 H and 1 BB while striking out 7. When he wasn’t getting strikeouts (11 swinging strikes) he was getting LA hitters to bury the ball into the ground, with 10 groundballs vs. 2 fly balls. The latter hasn’t been consistent, including having allowed 5 HR over his previous three starts and entering the day with a 48.8% groundball rate. That said he had been showing more groundballs in recent months:
- July – 53.3%
- August – 54.2%
He’s never going to be the pitcher that he once was, but if he can continue the improved groundballs there are going to be results. At the very least consider him a worthy streamer over the final few weeks of the season.
2) Can Ivan Nova possibly maintain this pace…
Speaking of Yankees, or in this case former Yankees, the transition to the NL has seemed to help Nova blossom. Taking on the Phillies yesterday he allowed 2 R (1 earned) on 5 H and 1 BB, striking out 11, over 6.0 IP in a no decision. Never known as a strikeout pitcher he had an impressive 19 swinging strikes yesterday, though he entered the day with an 8.4% SwStr% so it’s easy to call the bloated strikeout mark more opponent driven. Still, he was also generating groundballs (7 yesterday, compared to 0 fly balls) and has now allowed 2 ER or fewer in five straight starts (2.53 ERA, 0.93 WHIP since the trade) and that makes him a must use option over the final few weeks. While he isn’t going to be this good going into ’17 (0.39 BB/9 entering the day, 80.7% strand rate), over a few weeks he could potentially maintain it.
3) An unimpressive performance from Dylan Bundy…
Sure he got the W against the Red Sox, but that doesn’t make it a good start. Going 5.1 innings he allowed 3 ER on 6 H and 4 BB, striking out 4. He’s now failed to make it through 6 innings in each of his past four starts and has done it just once in his past seven. While length is one issue, it’s hardly the only one:
- Runs – He’s allowed 5 ER in three of his past six starts
- Walks – He’s walked 4 in three of his past five starts (17 BB over 24.2 IP in this stretch)
- Hits – He’s allowed 34 H over his past six starts (29.0 IP)
Over the past six starts he owns a 1.83 WHIP and is going to be hard to trust over the final few weeks.
4) Jorge Polanco enjoys a monster game…
Hitting second he went 3-4 with 1 HR, 4 RBI and 2 R. Of course he had gone 7 games without an RBI or R and now has 2 HR and 3 SB over 181 AB in the Majors, so is there really anything to get excited about? He has hit the ball exceptionally hard (32.7% line drive rate entering the day), has shown an ability to make consistent contact (14.4% strikeout rate, 5.5% SwStr% entering the day) and also has a bit of speed, so there certainly can be value if he continues to hit atop the order. Will he? That remains to be seen, but if you need help in average/runs he could prove to be a sneaky play.
5) A home run for Broxton, but is that enough…
He went 1-4 with 1 HR, 1 RBI and 1 R, but he also struck out twice. At one point he was an extremely hot add, but the optimism has waned in recent days. Over his past seven games he’s gone 6-22 with 2 HR, 2 RBI, 4 R and 1 SB. More importantly he’s struck out 9 times, including 6 in his past three games. Between Triple-A and the Majors he now owns 16 HR and 40 SB, so it’s hard not to get excited, but his inability to make contact is disturbing (35.4% strikeout rate entering the day) and he’s needed a bloated .381 BABIP just to hit close to .250. Given the depth of young outfielders the Brewers have, it’s possible Broxton ultimately becomes the next Drew Stubbs, unless he can significantly cut down on the strikeouts.
6) Jharel Cotton solid, though unspectacular…
Making his second start in the Majors Cotton allowed 3 R (1 earned) on 7 H and 1 BB, striking out 2, over 5.2 innings against the Royals. His big problem was that he simply couldn’t finish off hitters, including allowing 23 foul balls, as long AB helped to boost his pitch count (102 pitches) and chase him from the game. Another number to watch is his fly balls, as he has 21 vs. 10 groundballs over his first two starts. That could easily lead to home run problems, so there’s definite reason to be conservative depending on his opponent and game locale. That said there’s strikeout stuff and solid control, once he figure it out in the Majors, and that makes him an intriguing option at least as a spot play.
7) Trevor Bauer falls flat once again…
Taking on the White Sox he allowed 6 ER on 6 H and 1 BB, striking out 7, over 5.1 IP. While the strikeouts were there, he actually generated just 7 swinging strikes so it’s hard to get excited. It actually continues a disturbing trend, as he had 4 K or fewer in eight of his previous nine starts and those struggles have helped to explain his ERA quickly bloating, as he now owns a 4.06 mark (6.75 ERA in three September starts). While he did generate groundballs, without the strikeout stuff his upside is going to be extremely limited. He’s not a pitcher to flat out avoid down the stretch, but he’s also hardly someone to consider a must start.
8) Aledmys Garcia makes a statement in his return…
Fresh off the DL, Garcia got his first start and made his presence felt going 2-2 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 1 R. When he’s been on the field he has had an impressive rookie season, hitting .315 with 15 HR over 356 AB. He’s shown a tremendous display of the strike zone all season long, entering the day with:
- SwStr% – 6.6%
- O-Swing% – 28.4%
- Strikeout Rate – 13.4%
While you can argue that there haven’t been enough line drives (17.2%) and there’s been too many popups (13.4% IFFB), to an extent we’d be splitting hairs. Maybe he’s not this good, but that’s a problem for ’17. Now that he’s healthy, he’s well worth using down the stretch.
9) Jean Segura muscles up to help lead charge…
The Diamondbacks scored 11 runs, so there were a lot of contributors, but Segura arguably had the biggest impact as he went 3-5 with 2 HR, 2 RBI and 3 R. He’s now hitting .312 with 14 HR, 53 RBI, 86 R and 30 SB over 568 AB. There are a few significant changes, or should we say warning signs, that fantasy owners need to be aware of:
- HR/FB – He’s at 10.7%, despite consistent groundballs (53.6%) and marks of 5.1% and 5.3% the previous two seasons
- BABIP – .348, despite a 19.0% line drive rate
- Walks – 5.0%, so they continue to be non-existent
He’s going to have value, thanks to his speed, but with the potential for his power and average to regress, don’t be surprised if he struggles and doesn’t live up to the perceived value.
10) Taijuan Walker steals the show late into the night…
Taking on the Angels he tossed a complete game shutout, allowing just 3 H and 0 BB while racking up 11 K (courtesy if 20 swinging strikes). What’s even better than the strikeouts and walks? He generated 13 groundballs, compared to just 3 fly balls. He’s hardly lived up to the hype this season, with a 4.28 ERA, but he’s shown swing and miss stuff (10.1% SwStr%) and good control (1.99 BB/9). Don’t be surprised if he finishes the season off strong and he certainly will hold appeal once again heading into next season.
Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs