by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Cody Bellinger continued his assault on NL pitching, going 2-4 with 1 HR, 1 RBI and 2 R. Aaron Judge hit “just” his second home run since May 3, though after going 2-3 with 1 HR, 1 RBI and 3 R he’s got his average up to .331 to go along with 15 HR and 4 SB on the season. Corey Dickerson has had an impressive situation himself (.343 with 11 HR), though very few are talking about him. After a day where he went 2-3 with 2 HR, 4 RBI and 3 R, that could easily change. What else happened on the field that we need to know about? Let’s take a look:
1) Adam Frazier continues to hit…
He went 3-5 with 2 RBI, 1 R and 1 SB yesterday, and since returning on May 12 all he’s done is go 14-32 with 7 RBI, 5 R and 1 SB. He entered the day showing a terrific command of the strike zone (6.2% SwStr%, 21.9% O-Swing%) and hitting the ball hard (24.2% line drive rate). There’s been a bit of luck (.385 BABIP), his lack of power potential is going to limit his appeal and you also can argue that the stolen base potential is capped (he went 21-for-37 in SB last year), all of which comes together for extremely limited fantasy appeal. While he’s the type of player to ride while he’s producing, don’t expect the production to continue.
2) A dominant performance from Mike Clevinger…
Taking on the Astros he tossed 7.0 shutout innings allowing 2 H and 2 BB, striking out 8. He clearly had struggled with his control over his first two starts (9 BB over 10.0 IP), but after posting a 3.00 BB/9 at Triple-A prior to his recall (3,39 in 17 starts there in ’16) it shouldn’t come as a surprise that he was able to correct the issue. He also did a great job of generating swings and misses, with 16 of them, which he had been showing since joining the Indians (11.7% SwStr%). While home runs could be an issue (at Triple-A over the past two seasons he’s posted groundball rates of 39.6% and 38.7%), as long as he’s throwing strikes he should be a viable option for fantasy owners (at least as a streaming option).
3) Another implosion for Masahiro Tanaka…
After allowing 4 HR his last time out against the Astros Tanaka was battered again, this time at the hands of the Rays, as he allowed 6 ER on 9 H and 3 BB, striking out 4, over 3.0 IP. Of the hits three went for HR, as he’s now allowed 10 HR over his past four starts. While he seemed to find it for a short stretch, overall it’s hard to call the season anything but a disaster as he owns a 6.56 ERA and 1.60 WHIP. While his strikeouts are down overall (he entered the day with a 7.00 K/9), interestingly his velocity has been up (91.7 mph) and he’s getting swings and misses (12.0% SwStr%, 14 swinging strikes yesterday). His control hasn’t been what we’ve been accustomed to, but it also hasn’t been awful. The big problem is the long ball, and with a 51.0% groundball rate entering the day it’s hard to explain. While it would be easy to panic and pull the plug, there should be better days ahead (assuming we don’t learn about an injury of some sort).
4) Rio Ruiz delivers key blow for Braves…
With the addition of Matt Adams it’s possible that Ruiz’ time in the Majors could be short (though he could still see regular AB until Adonis Garcia returns). Hitting a home run off of Max Scherzer, though, could buy you a little extra time. That’s what Ruiz did yesterday, going 2-4 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 1 R. We discussed him in detail on our prospect site recently (click here to view http://www.rotoprofessor.com/prospects/?p=1631) and it does appear that he’s starting to unlock his power potential. As we noted he saw an increased fly ball rate at Triple-A (38.4%) and also had delivered 17 extra base hits (12 doubles, 1 triple and 4 HR). Having always shown a good command of the strike zone, this development is key. In deeper formats he’s definitely worth monitoring.
5) Jonathan Lucroy extends hitting streak to 8 games…
He went 1-4 with 1 HR, 1 RBI and 1 R, with the HR being his first since May 2. The power obviously hasn’t been there yet (3 HR on the season), but he’s suddenly hitting .272 as he’s gone 13-30 over his current streak (and also picked up an RBI in four straight). Despite taking over the cleanup spot and starting to produce a little bit, there are still consistent questions as to whether or not we should move on. Why? Even if his power is along the lines of early in his career (12-15 HR), his impressive strikeout rate (3.2% SwStr% entering the day) and .275 BABIP shows there’s still room to improve. With there being a good chance that he also starts hitting for more power, stick with him and reap the benefits.
6) A win for Zack Wheeler…
And for most of the day he pitched well, albeit against an extremely unimpressive Angels’ lineup. However when you look at his final line allowing 2 ER on 4 H and 5 BB (he also hit a batter), striking out 5, over 5.0 IP isn’t going to stand out. While he’s allowed 2 ER or less in four straight starts, he’s also walked at least 4 batters in three of them. That’s not a good sign for a pitcher who has historically had control issues, and his 22.9% O-Swing% doesn’t help the situation. He is bringing strikeouts (he had 13 swinging strikes yesterday) and enough groundballs, but if he keeps struggling with his control there will be an implosion before long. Keep that in mind, as it’s possible that now is the time to try and move on (especially with the potential for an innings limit).
7) An epic duel between Jeff Samardzija and Carlos Martinez…
Both pitchers deserved a W, but at the end of the day they each had to settle for a no decision:
- Carlos Martinez – 9.0 IP, 0 R, 2 H, 1 BB, 5 K (only 93 pitches)
- Jeff Samardzija – 8.0 IP, 0 R, 5 H, 0 BB, 8 K
While we know Martinez is among the better options in the league, has Samardzija finally rediscovered his stuff? While he has been striking batters out (71 K over 61.0 IP), he did have just 7 swinging strikes yesterday. That hasn’t been the story of the season though (11.3% SwStr% entering the day), though getting hit hard (31.7% line drive rate) and poor luck (59.4% strand rate) have been. If he can start to reduce the hard contact, these types of performances will continue. That makes him an intriguing gamble, because he’s hardly a pitcher to fully trust.
8) A monster day from Avisail Garcia, making it the prime time to sell…
The White Sox clobbered Yovani Gallardo (10 R over 3.2 IP) and company, racking up 16 R on 19 H. Garcia led the way, going 4-5 with 2 HR, 6 RBI and 3 R, putting his ’17 line at an impressive .357 with 8 HR and 34 RBI. It’s easy to dub him a breakout star, but do we really believe that? He entered the day with an unsustainable .402 BABIP and considering his batted ball profile (50.0% groundball rate, 28.0% fly ball rate) it also seems like a long shot that he continues to hit for significant power (remember, 13 HR is his career high). Things are going to fall, and likely hard, making now the time to try and see if someone will buy into the previous hype.
9) Julio Urias can’t get out of the third inning…
The Marlins bombed him, as he finished allowing 7 R (6 earned) on 7 H and 3 BB, striking out 0, over 2.1 IP. It’s his second straight disastrous outing, as he’s now allowed 12 ER on 14 H and 4 BB, striking out 1, over 6.1 IP. We all know the upside, but while we could chalk up his last disastrous outing to Coors Field this one came at home. He now owns a 4.24 K/9 over his five starts in ’17, as he’s struggled to generate swings and misses (8.9% SwStr%), has been hit hard (27.8% line drive rate) and has had issues with his control (5.40 BB/9). While we can say his 62.8% strand rate is unlucky, it’s easy to imagine a regression in his .293 BABIP due to the other numbers. While we know the potential, a trip back to Triple-A could be in the cards. Stash him for later in the year, if you have room, but right now you can’t use him.
10) Robbie Ray puts together a strong start…
Of course it came against the Padres, but he still tossed 7.2 shutout innings allowing just 2 H and 3 BB, striking out 6. He clearly benefited from the opponent and pitching in Petco Park, as he didn’t allow a home run despite giving up a slew of fly balls (13). Would things have been different if the game was played in Arizona? It’s possible, as 6 of the 7 HR he’s allowed this season have come at home (where he owns a 6.75 ERA, compared to a 1.03 on the road). That’s not a split we can ignore, and at least for now Ray should only be used when starting on the road (assuming it’s not someplace like Coors Field). The upside is there, but you need to be smart about utilizing him.
Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs
Make sure to check out all of our updated rankings:
|First Base||April 26|
|Second Base||May 1|
|Third Base||May 4|