by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Justin Verlander tried to prove that his 2016 second half was for real, en route to a W over the Chicago White Sox (6.1 IP, 2 ER, 6 H, 2 BB, 10 K, W). CC Sabathia delivered a strong start, tossing 5.0 shutout innings against the Tampa Bay Rays (with only 2 K, however, helping to temper any excitement). Carlos Carrasco put the injury questions aside, making one big mistake en route to a W over the Texas Rangers (5.2 IP, 2 ER, 4 H, 1 BB, 7 K, W). What else happened on the field we need to know about? Let’s take a look:
1) The Tigers use the long ball to beat up Jose Quintana…
It was a rough start for Quintana, who ultimately allowed 6 ER on 5 H and 3 BB, striking out 2, over 5.1 IP. The problem was home runs, as he watched three balls fly over the fences:
- Jacoby Jones – 1-4, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 R
- Nick Castellanos – 1-4, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 R
- Ian Kinsler – 2-3, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 R
It’s only one start, but it’s something we did caution about prior to the season in the 2017 Draft Guide as he posted a 40.4% groundball rate a year ago (4 groundballs vs. 5 fly balls yesterday). The lack of strikeouts, and more specifically swings and misses (he had 6 yesterday), is also an issue. Again no one is going to push the panic button off of one start, but the early signs reflect the preseason concerns. It’s something to monitor closely.
2) Tyler Anderson gets the W, though doesn’t “shine”…
He did strikeout 8 and only walked 1 over 5.2 IP, so it wasn’t a complete loss. That said he did allow 5 ER on 8 H, so the numbers aren’t going to look particularly impressive. We know the Brewers are going to be strikeout prone, but 17 swinging strikes still shows that his stuff is there and 4 groundball outs vs. 2 fly ball outs fits his profile as well. While he did give up some hits and runs, for the most part you have to be excited with what the underlying numbers are indicating. There’s significant upside, especially considering he’s pitched better at Coors Field than on the road during his short career, and there’s little reason for concern.
3) Joey Gallo shows off his power stroke…
No one is going to question the power that Gallo brings to the table, and he should it with a mammoth blast against Carlos Carrasco and finished the day 2-4 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 1 R. Of course he also struck out twice, giving him 4 K in 7 AB over the first two games of the season. It’s easy to get excited because he easily could hit 30+ HR if he plays regularly, but it’s going to come at a cost (he likely wouldn’t hit over .240, and that may be a stretch). He also isn’t likely to see regular playing time once Adrian Beltre is healthy, so don’t get too attached.
4) Lance McCullers silences a potent Seattle lineup…
Going 6.0 IP McCullers allowed 1 ER on 5 H and 2 BB, striking out 7, to earn the W. While most people will look at the strikeouts, but the most impressive part of his performance was actually his 12 groundball outs as compared to 0 fly ball outs (there was actually only one fly ball put in play). After posting a 57.3% groundball rate it’s hard to argue, with the biggest questions facing him prior to the season being his control and his pitch usage (he primarily was a two-pitch pitcher coming into the year, though he threw his changeup 11.4% yesterday which is a good sign). For one start he clearly put it all together, though time will tell if he can keep it going. For now be prepared for the hype machine to kick in full force.
5) Jake Arrieta showed off his Cy Young stuff…
Taking on a potent Cardinals lineup Arrieta was brilliant, allowing 1 R (0 earned) on 4 H and 2 BB, striking out 6, over 6.0 IP. He did a good job of getting groundballs (7 groundball outs vs. 1 fly ball out), so after one start it would be easy to label him as “back”. Will he be as good as he was back in 2015? That’s hard to expect, though chances are his numbers will fall somewhere in between 2015 and 2016. In other words there was always going to be a lot to like (we had him ranked as the #9 starting pitcher prior to the season) and his first start helps to support that.
6) The power potential of Ryon Healy is for real…
He took Matt Shoemaker (5.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 H, 3 BB, 4 K) deep in his first AB, finishing 2-3 with 1 HR, 1 RBI and 1 R. There are questions about the middle of Oakland’s lineup, but there’s little reason to question the spots of Healy and Khris Davis. Healy launched 5 HR this spring and it wouldn’t be surprising if the he and Davis combine for 70+ HR this season.
7) Yangervis Solarte leads the Padres to victory…
The unlikely cleanup hitter, Solarte went 2-4 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 1 R. Don’t confuse him for a superstar, because he’s not, but if he’s on the field he’s proven capable of hitting 20+ HR (he had 15 HR in 405 AB last season) and will be able to add a lot of RBI hitting in the middle of the batting order. Throw in multi-positional eligibility (he’s playing 2B this season, so he’ll soon be eligible at 2B/3B) and there’s a lot to like and reason to own him in all formats.
8) Clayton Richard, Padres ace…
The southpaw twirled 8.0 shutout innings against the Dodgers, allowing 5 H and 2 BB while striking out 5. Throw in 12 groundball outs and it was a dominant performance. Of course the Dodgers were among the worst offenses against southpaws in 2016, having slashed .214/.291/.333, so we obviously don’t want to read too much into this performance (let’s be honest, we all know Richard isn’t going to be much of an option). The bigger takeaway is, at least for now, streaming southpaws against the Dodgers appears to be a solid strategy.
9) Gerardo Parra takes advantage of his opportunity…
Injuries allowed him to get a starting role and he took advantage, going 3-5 with 3 RBI and 1 R (he has 4 RBI over the first two games). Once David Dahl and Ian Desmond are healthy it’s going to be hard for Parra to find regular AB (though there’s always the potential for a Carlos Gonzalez trade/injury), but there’s also no question that he can hit. He’s well worth utilizing while he’s going to be getting AB.
10) It was a poor start for Zach Davies…
You could argue that he was the team’s best pitcher entering the season, but he didn’t look the part against Colorado as he allowed 6 ER on 9 H and 4 BB, striking out 1, over 4.1 IP. Obviously his control was an issue, though that wasn’t coming up through the minors and can be written off. More of a concern is an overall limited strikeout rate, and his 7 swinging strikes yesterday helps to highlight that. It’s one start, but it’s fair to be at least a little concerned.
Sources – MLB.com, ESPN, Fangraphs
Make sure to check out our 2017 Rankings:
|Starting Pitcher||#1-20 |02/27/17|