by Ray Kuhn
We began the week with a shortened slate of games, but that didn’t mean we were without action. The good thing, is that there were no afternoon games, which meant we had all day to set our lineups for the week ahead. Initially there were some weather concerns, but all of the games got off without a hitch. Let’s take a look at some of the performances that stood out:
1) Colorado Makes Use of the Spot Start…
Pitching is always going to be an issue for the Rockies, especially in Coors Field, but so far this season with Bud Black at the helm, things don’t seem so dire. Part of that is also attributable to the stable of young arms Colorado has accumulated, and one of them got the spot start in Philadelphia last night. Jeff Hoffman made his second start of the season, and the right-hander didn’t disappoint as he picked up his second win. In seven innings of work, Hoffman held the Phillies to just one run on three hits while striking out seven and not allowing a walk. This situation was ideal for Hoffman, on the road against a weaker opponent, but the former first round pick (2014) does have talent and should be on your radar moving forward. So far this season, he has a 3.46 ERA and 1.10 WHIP in seven Triple-A starts, and Hoffman is likely the next man up in Colorado’s rotation.
2) The Power Continues in the Bronx…
And you thought I was talking about Aaron Judge, didn’t you? Judge went hitless last night, although he did walk and score a run, and I’m not talking about Gary Sanchez either. Instead, that statement was meant for Brett Gardner. The lead-off hitter went deep for the ninth time this season on Monday as he continues to show a surprising amount of power. So far this month, he has hit seven home runs while picking up 15 of his 19 RBI for the season. Overall, Gardner is hitting .281 on the season, and while the power is a nice development, it isn’t something we can expect to continue as his previous career high was 17 in 2014. Gardner’s 35.2% fly ball rate is in line with other years, but his 23.7 home per fly ball rate is clearly an out-liar. Part of that though can be attributed to his increase in hard contact; 25.8% to 35.4% which has come at the expense of his medium contact.
3) Miguel Sano Has Himself a Game…
So far this season, Sano is taking care of anyone who doubted him. All he did on Monday, was take advantage of Ubaldo Jimenez starting the game and then Baltimore’s bullpen. Sano was 4 for 6 on the night, and although he started off just getting singles and getting on base, he made sure to finish with some power. It was the 11th home run of the season for the third baseman (two men were on base) and it brought his RBI total up to 37 on the season. Sano is also hitting .319 on the season and no one is paying attention to his 59 strikeouts in 40 games; even though he is on pace for 239 in 162 games. Unfortunately though, Sano won’t continue being a .319 hitter, and he has vastly benefited from a .479 BABIP. The power though, is real, as Sano’s exit velocity of 99.88 miles per hour illustrates.
4) Don’t Forget About Max Kepler…
While Kepler isn’t as flashy as his teammate, and he doesn’t get as much attention as Byron Buxton in the outfield, we shouldn’t forget about him. Kepler picked up three hits on Monday while scoring three times and driving in four runs. That included his fifth home run of the season, a solo shot, as well as his ninth double as he brought his RBI total up to 20 for the season. While it means he likely won’t get much more than 75 RBI on the season, it is still impressive considering all of the RBI opportunities that Sano snaps up before they get to Kepler. His .271 batting average is right in line with where we can expect it to be, and while he isn’t going to be a star, we are still looking at a solid player in Kepler.
5) Scott Feldman, Really…
When you are looking at the upcoming slate of games and see Feldman listed as one of the starts, that screams offense. However, Feldman has been a surprisingly solid option for the Reds so far this season, and he limited Cleveland to just one run in six innings of work last night. The right-hander picked up his third victory of the season while scattering four hits and walks to go along with nine strikeouts to lower his ERA to 3.99. Feldman is by no means a flashy starter, but in his 10 starts so far this season, he has been solid or better in eight of them while allowing 12 runs in 6.2 innings in the other two. While you shouldn’t all run out to grab Feldman off your waiver wire, he could be a decent option depending on the opponent. With all of the injuries around baseball, the is now the point we are at.
6) Have the Angels Found Their Lead-off Hitter…
After batting .206 to begin the season, things are looking a little better for Cameron Maybin so far in May. After his two hits on Monday, Maybin’s batting average for the month is up to .284 (.244 on the season). Maybin showed some power against Tampa Bay as he went deep for the second time this season, accounting for his 11th RBI, while also stealing his 10th base. Batting ahead of Mike Trout has it’s perks as Maybin is up to 25 runs scored on the season, and while is batting average still needs some help, he does have an impressive .370 on base percentage. We have been down this road before with Maybin and he has failed to fully produce, but that doesn’t mean he should be left on the waiver wire.
7) Matt Adams Settles in…
Regular playing time and a set role is always a good thing, and currently in Atlanta, that is what Adams has. Adams wasted no time in his new role as he batted fifth, behind Matt Kemp on Monday. Adams picked up two hits against Pittsburgh, and he showed off his power with a two run blast in the fifth inning. While it was just his second home run of the season, and brought his RBI total to nine, I wouldn’t be concerned, as when he plays, Adams has proven to be a more than capable power hitter in the past.
8) Joe Panik Sets the Table…
To be fair, the Giants lead-off hitter also cleared the table and at times didn’t leave scraps for anyone else. Panik started off the game with a home run, his second of the season, and then he doubled twice and added another RBI. The second baseman is up to nine doubles on the season, with 14 RBI, while batting just .268. A game like this from Panik isn’t all that surprising, but he isn’t a legitimate power threat. Panik is better when the Giants’ offense is rolling, and that has not been the case on a consistent basis this season. But considering Panik is batting .230 so far in May, Monday was a good sign.
9) Houston Does it With Pitching…
Instead of dipping into the minor leagues for a spot starter with Dallas Keuchel on the disabled list, the Astros pulled Brad Peacock out the bullpen. After previously struggling in his career, and making the team partly because he is out of options, the right-hander has impressed so far this season. On Monday, he did more than just impress even though he didn’t get the victory for his efforts. Since he hasn’t been stretch out yet this season, Houston was cautious with Peacock and lifted him after just 4.1 innings. Peacock walked two batters while allowing just one hit and striking out eight to lower his ERA to 0.87. For those of you looking to augment your pitching staffs with middle relievers, Peacock might be worth a look, especially since his replacement is likely already owned. Chris Devenski continued his strong season with 2.2 innings of perfect baseball in which he struck out two batters to pick up the victory. Will Harris and Ken Giles each added a perfect inning of work, with two strikeouts each, to close out the game for the Astros to continue the strong pitching performance.
10) Power Was on Display in Arizona…
There are flashier stars around baseball who play in larger markets than Arizona, but we shouldn’t forget about Paul Goldschmidt. And just when that might be happening, he makes sure to remind us about the power he has. Goldschmidt went deep for the 11th time this season on Monday which brought his RBI total up to 35 on the season, while also adding a single and scoring another run. The first baseman is currently hitting .318 on the season, and we should not overlook him when discussing the game’s star players.
Make sure to check out all of our updated rankings:
|First Base||April 26|
|Second Base||May 1|
|Third Base||May 4|