10 Important Stories From 04/07/17 Box Scores: Margot Flashes Power, Velasquez’ Mixed Bag & More

by Simon Jones

Friday was another fascinating night of MLB action. The Cubs lose in extra innings on a wild pitch, Javier Baez escapes serious injury in a nasty looking collision, a near meltdown in the Nats’ bullpen and first home runs for Machado, Cespedes, Yelich and Sanchez amongst others.

So let’s look at some of the bigger stories from Friday’s games.

1) Mazara hits first career grand-slam…
Nomar Mazara had a huge night against the Athletics last night, going 3-5 with a grand slam. He also added another two RBIs for a career-high six on the night. He’s now had 4 straight multi-hit games going 10-17 and this was his second home run. If he continues on this form then his price will rise quickly.

2) Murphy continues to hit…
On the topic of multi-hit games, Daniel Murphy has also put together four consecutive two-hit games and hit his first home run of the season. Murphy had a career year in 2016 and was tagged by many as a regression candidate, but he’s looking like the same Daniel Murphy that broke out in late 2015 and is now hitting 8-17 on the season.

3) Uh-oh… Rich Hill has blisters…
This isn’t strictly speaking from the box scores, but worthy of note due to when the news broke. We often talk of players with injury-risk, but Hill always seems to come with injury-inevitability instead. I don’t think any of us were predicting he’d hit the DL in the first week though. The initial word is that it’s a minor issue, and with the new DL10, he may only miss one start, however it needs to be remembered just how much time Hill missed with similar issues in 2016. Consider yourself warned!

4) An ugly first week for Buxton…
Byron Buxton had another horrible night at the plate, striking out in all four at-bats. Ordinarily, I wouldn’t be too concerned about a 1 for 18 start, but Buxton has now struck out in eleven of those at-bats and is looking a bit lost at the plate. He was a popular sleeper pre-season, but you have to wonder how long before the Twins drop him down the order.

5) Margot flashes some power…
Manuel Margot has been a popular late round pick by owners looking for some cheap speed, broke out his power bat last night, hitting two solo homers against the Giants. I wouldn’t place much store in the power, as Margot has only managed double digit HRs once (2014 in A-ball), but it is good to see him getting comfortable at the plate, and securing a place in the Padres line-up will definitely lead to more stolen bases.

6) Garrett strong in Major League debut…
Cincinnati pitching prospect Amir Garrett tossed six scoreless innings last night in his debut against the Cardinals. The 24-year-old struck out four whilst allowing two hits and two walks in a 2-0 win. Garrett was definitely impressive and could be one to watch as the season progresses. To bear in mind though that Garrett only played one season combined at AA/AAA level and did have some control issues, so temper expectations at this point.

7) Velasquez frustrates with mixed outing…
Usually, we’d be singing the praises any starter who racks up ten strikeouts on the night. Unfortunately for Vince Velasquez, he also managed to mix in five hits, three walks and four runs across only four innings to take the loss against the Nationals. Velasquez has a night the echoed much of his previous season’s where you get lured in by the high K/9 but frustrated by sub-par ERA and WHIP. Velasquez will have to show he can keep the ball in the yard (two HRs last night) and cut the walks before he can be properly trusted.

8) Scherzer looks great in season debut…
Max Scherzer laid to rest any lingering injury concerns last night with a dominant performance last night. Scherzer struck out seven, giving up two runs (when he already had a 7-0 lead), although the Nationals’ bullpen nearly blew it all as the Phillies pulled it back to 7-6. This outing should allay any lingering doubts about Scherzer after his difficult spring, and it would be no surprise to see him in contention for another Cy Young award at the end of the season.

9) Belt hits a pair of homers in loss…
You’d often associate a Padres/Giants game with a low-scoring encounter, but that obviously wasn’t the case last night, as Brandon Belt’s two home runs and five RBIs still weren’t enough to give the Giants victory. Belt now has three home runs on the year. I was surprised looking into his career stats that he has never even made it to 20 HR in a year before, so Belt is well on the way to finally achieving and hopefully bettering that mark.

10) Wheeler struggles in first outing since 2014…
It was great to see Zack Wheeler take the mound after two lost seasons, but the results weren’t there against Miami on Friday, giving up five runs over four innings. Wheeler had a strong first inning with encouraging velocity, but that faded as did his overall performance as the innings progressed. It is probably too much to expect significant results at this point, but Wheeler will be worth monitoring if he can remain healthy and shake off the rust.

4 comments

  1. Steve says:

    If only April Brandon Belt could ever continue production into the rest of the season. Seems like every April the last 3-4 Years everyone thinks it’s going to be the year Belt breaks out, only to not happen. Belt broke out last year, except it was the one around Pablo Sandoval’s waist.

  2. Simon Jones says:

    To be fair, Brandon Belt could never have the strength of the belt containing 2016 Sandoval – that would be way more than 20 HR power.

    All joking aside. Belt seemed to be the one player immune to the league-wide power surge, and is streaky as anyone. He could hit another 5 HR this month, or could hit 5 before the ASB. He might not be a player to target long term, but he’s the kind of player who has a low price tag now, that you might be able to move on for a profit if he continues hitting for a few more weeks.

    • Steve says:

      The only April where Belt has hit more than 3 HRs was 2014 (when he hit 7). Since 2014, he’s more than doubled his walk rate, cut his K% by almost 5, and lowered his GB% by more than 10. He’s clearly a much different (better) hitter than he was in 2014. It’s silly to dismiss this as simply another April hot start based on his 2014 performance alone.

  3. Simon Jones says:

    Hoping this is different Steves, otherwise you’re arguing with yourself.

    Agree that Belt has refined as a hitter, but with no speed (no SB and 4 CS last year) and an awful HR/FB rate in 2016, then he’s only been a marginal play in Roto for a while. He’s more valuable in OBP leagues, but he’s been hovering at barely above replacement value for a couple of years.

    Agree that 2014 was his only truly hot April, but he also hit 7 HRs in two separate months in 2015 (I think May was one of those months) and then only 4 for the rest of the year. He could still turn it around, but it will take more than one hot week to convince me this is a break out where you can attach any significant value to him.

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