by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Stephen Strasburg dominated the Padres over 7.0 shutout innings, allowing 3 H and 1 BB while striking out 15. Dallas Keuchel starred in his return from the DL, allowing 1 R on 4 H and 2 BB, striking out 8, over 6.0 IP to defeat the Orioles. Adam Wainwright conquered Coors Field, tossing 7.0 shutout innings (3 H, 1 BB and 6 K) in order to defeat the Rockies. What else happened on the field that we need to know about? Let’s take a look:
1) Another solid start from Adalberto Mejia…
Taking on the Rays he settled for a no decision, allowing 2 ER on 6 H and 2 BB, striking out 6, over 5.0 IP (after allowing 3 ER over 7.0 IP in his previous outing). That said he only 9 swinging strikes, having entered the day with an 8.2% SwStr%, and considering his minor league career 7.7 K/9 there’s little reason to think there’s much upside. He also didn’t flash tremendous groundball stuff (5 groundballs vs. 3 fly balls), and with home runs being an issue (4 HR 21.1 IP) it’s worth noting. Sure he’s shown good control in the minors (2.1 BB/9), but he’s struggled in that regard since being promoted. While there is some streaming potential, he shouldn’t be viewed as more than that.
2) The Red Sox’ Brian Johnson shines in spot start…
Of course the outing came against the Mariners, who simply can’t touch a southpaw right now. That needs to be taken into consideration, though it shouldn’t take away from Johnson’s impressive performance en route to a complete game shutout. He yielded just 5 H and 0 BB, striking out 8, in the process. That said Johnson is not a groundball pitcher (39.4% at Triple-A, 6 groundballs vs. 13 fly balls yesterday) and could ultimately struggle with home runs. He also didn’t show big time strikeout stuff (7.46 K/9) nor elite control (3.43 BB/9) over his seven starts at Triple-A prior to his recall. In other words maybe this was all about the matchup? Don’t get overly excited.
3) Zack Cozart continues his impressive season…
He finished a triple short of the cycle yesterday, going 4-4 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 1 R, raising his season numbers to .355 with 5 HR, 25 RBI, 27 R and 2 SB. While it’s been an extremely impressive run, does anyone truly believe in his average? Considering he entered the day with a .393 BABIP (20.7% line drive rate) you shouldn’t be. He is showing an improved command of the strike zone, with a 12.7% walk rate, and that will help but he’s a near lock to slow down before long. While he should continue to be a useful option, he’s not quite this good and is a sell high candidate if the value is there.
4) Has the time come to give up on Danny Salazar…
Lasting 5.1 innings he allowed 4 R (3 earned) on 6 H and 5 BB, striking out 4, against the Royals. The obvious concern is with his control, or lack thereof, as he hasn’t had a start with fewer than 2 BB yet in ’17 (in fact his last regular season outing with fewer than 2 BB came on July 19, 2016, making it 17 straight starts of 2+ BB). After showing strong control over his first few seasons, he entered the day with a 4.40 BB/9 (after posting a 4.13 BB/9 in ’16). Couple that with a lack of groundballs (36.0% entering the day), and it’s easy to pinpoint why he’s struggled. Does that mean he can’t turn things around? Absolutely not, and the upside is too high to simply write him off. At the same time, don’t consider him a must start under any circumstance until he starts to show signs. Simply keep him stashed and monitor things closely (even if he ends up in the bullpen, as rumored).
5) Chase Anderson, the surprising stud performance…
Taking on the Diamondbacks he twirled 7.0 shutout innings, allowing 1 H and 3 BB while striking out 11. Of course this came after having allowed 10 ER over 9.1 IP against the Cubs and Padres in his previous two outings (in fact he had allowed 4+ ER in four of his previous five outings before this one). He entered the day with a 9.5% SwStr% in ’17 (8.7% for his career), so It’s hard to buy into his 22 swinging strikes. He also brings the risk of home run issues (34.3% groundball rate) and his control is good, but not great (3.51 BB/9 in ’17, 2.93 for his career). While this was an outstanding outing, it’s not one that should send you scrambling to the waiver wire to grab him.
6) Cameron Maybin appears to have found a home…
Hitting atop the Angels lineup seems to suit him, though you may not think so if you simply look at his .247 average. He went 2-4 with 3 R and 2 SB yesterday, giving him 29 R and 12 SB on the season, though his numbers in May are even more impressive (.280 with 29 R and 9 SB). Overall he’s showing an incredible command of the strike zone (7.8% SwStr%, 21.6% O-Swing%), and that’s helped his walk rate to balloon (15.5% entering the day). He’s also putting the ball on the ground, utilizing his speed, with a 60.5% groundball rate. The average itself should improve, in time, and that will only help to increase his potential to steal bases and score runs (though the walk rate could regress a little bit). Regardless, while he’s not going to provide much power he’s showing that he can be a viable fantasy option and a solid source in 2-3 categories.
7) The White Sox-Tigers double header features pair of surprising starts…
In the first game it was Tyler Danish, who was called upon for a spot start and tossed 5.0 shutout innings for the White Sox. Of course he danced into and out of trouble, allowing 3 H and 6 BB, but he also generated 6 K. Control hadn’t been an issue at Triple-A (2.56 BB/9 in eight starts), though he also has struggled to generate strikeouts (4.53 K/9). While there was upside at one point, it’s hard to get excited now.
In the second game it was the Tigers’ Buck Farmer who dominated as he went 6.1 shutout innings allowing 3 H and 2 BB, striking out 11. He had 22 swinging strikes, and considering his 8.89 K/9 and 1.65 BB/9 over 54.2 innings at Triple-A prior to his recall there’s reason for excitement. He has struggled in the past when given an opportunity (6.84 ERA over 79.0 IP in the Majors over the past two seasons), but there’s enough upside if the Tigers decide to give him a look in the rotation once again.
8) Another stinker from John Lackey…
Taking on the Dodgers he allowed 5 ER on 6 H and 4 BB, striking out 5, over 5.0 IP. The biggest blow came courtesy of Chris Taylor (1-5, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 R), and the long ball has certainly been the story of Lackey’s struggles (13 HR over 57.1 IP). He’s actually showing more strikeout stuff, with an 11.0 SwStr% and 34.1% O-Swing% (on par with last year’s 11.5% and 33.0% marks, respectively), his control remains solid (2.98 BB/9, despite yesterday’s struggles) and there’s room for improvement in his luck (.323 BABIP, 73.8% strand rate, 19.3% line drive rate). With a 44.4% groundball rate (43.7% for his career), there’s also reason to believe that he improves on the home runs allowed. When that happens the results are going to improve dramatically. Now is not the time for a knee jerk reaction, and in fact it is the perfect time to go out and try to acquire Lackey for far less than his true value.
9) Travis d’Arnaud has a big day at the dish…
Of course it came in another disappointing loss for the Mets, but d’Arnaud did everything he could as he went 3-5 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 1 R (he was a triple shy of the cycle). They are his first hits since returning from the DL and it remains to be seen how many AB he’ll yield to Rene Rivera moving forward, but if d’Arnaud is healthy he has the potential to be among the Top 10 offensive catchers in the game. You can argue that he’s swinging for the fences too much (41.8% fly ball rate), but all of the underlying metrics point towards a season similar to ’15 when he hit .268 with 12 HR over 239 AB (he’s currently hitting .221 with 5 HR over 68 AB). In other words, now is the time to make a move.
10) Ty Blach pitches well to beat the Braves…
He went 7.2 innings allowing 2 ER on 6 H and 3 BB, striking out 5, to improve to 3-2 with a 3.83 ERA. The southpaw owns a 3.71 ERA in 43.2 innings as a starter, showing enough groundballs (49.0%) and impressive control (2.06 BB/9). Of course he’s failed to generate much in the way of strikeouts (3.50 K/9), which isn’t a surprise, and there is going to be a regression in terms of his BABIP (.259). He also owns a dramatic split between pitching at home (1.75 ERA) and on the road (9.45 ERA). When the matchup is right he could be viewed as a streaming option at home, but overall the lack of strikeouts keeps him from viability.
Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs, Baseball Reference
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|First Base||April 26|
|Second Base||May 1|
|Third Base||May 4|