by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Aaron Judge launched his first career grand slam, finishing the day going 2-4 with 1 HR, 4 RBI and 1 R. Adam Duvall had his own big day, going 3-4 with 2 HR, 5 RBI and 2 R (putting him at .274 with 13 HR and 43 RBI on the season). Lance McCullers continued his impressive start, allowing 3 R (2 earned) on 5 H and 2 BB, striking out 8, over 6.0 IP to defeat the Orioles.
How about the surprisingly bad matchup between Jon Lester (3.1 IP, 6 ER, 7 H, 2 BB, 3 K) and Clayton Kershaw (4.1 IP, 4 ER, 11 H, 2 BB, 6 K)?! Who saw that one coming? What else happened on the field that we need to know about? Let’s take a look:
1) J.T. Riddle enjoys a day atop the Marlins’ order…
It was his first game hitting leadoff, as all but one of his AB in the Majors have come hitting in the bottom third of the order, but it may not be his last. He went 2-4 with 1 HR, 3 RBI and 2 R yesterday, helping to lead the charge against Matt Shoemaker (4.2 IP, 4 ER, 7 H, 0 BB, 3 K) and the Angels. Riddle is now hitting .258 with 3 HR and 13 RBI over 66 AB, and it’s possible that he’s earning regular AB even once Adeiny Hechevarria returns from the DL. He’s added 6 doubles, so the power is there, but his plate zone discipline hasn’t been very good (11.1% SwStr%, 37.3% O-Swing%) and is a concern (though he has just 5 K over 32 AB in his past seven games). There’s definitely some appeal if you are in need of a shortstop.
2) Another less than stellar day from Rick Porcello…
Taking on the Mariners he only allowed 2 ER, though he yielded 11 H and 1 BB, striking out 6, over 6.1 IP. He’s now allowed 9+ H in four straight starts, with 40 H and 4 BB over 25.0 IP (which equated to a 1.76 WHIP). It’s actually been somewhat of an issue all season long, as he now owns a 4.21 ERA and 1.48 WHIP. You can argue that part of the problem has been poor luck (he entered the day with a .354 BABIP), but he also continues to see his groundball rate continue to fall (39.4% entering the day, 5 groundballs vs. 7 fly balls yesterday). That’s the bigger concern, though you also have to wonder if he can maintain his current strikeout per inning pace (6.20 career K/9). While there’s reason to believe in a rebound overall, that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s a good option.
3) The good feeling from Joe Ross quickly disappears…
Taking on the Padres he was battered for 5 ER on 12 H and 1 BB, striking out 4, over 4.0 IP. The big blow came courtesy of Ryan Schimpf, who finished the day 1-5 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 1 R. Ross was stellar in his first start back from the minors (1 ER over 8.0 IP), but even at that time we noted that he was still primarily utilizing two pitches and that could eventually catch up to him. This time, though, he got jumped early (2 ER in the first inning) and simply never settled down. The Nationals have never seemed particularly committed to him, and it wouldn’t be surprising if he is once again pulled from the rotation. He could ultimately profile best as a late inning reliever, and keep a close eye on that to see if a move is soon made.
4) Has Matt Davidson actually started to figure it out…
Sure his home run came against Jordan Zimmermann (one of three he allowed, as he gave up 7 ER on 8 H and 1 BB over 5.0 IP), but after going 1-4 with 1 HR, 1 RBI and 1 R he now owns a five-game hitting streak (7-15, 2 HR, 2 RBI, 3 R) and is hitting .269 with 10 HR and 25 RBI over 119 AB. Of course he also entered the day with a 34.4% strikeout rate, courtesy of a 15.7% SwStr%, and while he’s hit some home runs he’s added just 2 doubles and 1 triple. He’s clearly swinging for the fences (54.8% fly ball rate) and it’s impossible to expect much production to continue. The power is nice, but he’s not a player worth buying into.
5) Jimmy Nelson dominated the Diamondbacks…
Over 7.0 innings he allowed 1 ER on 7 H and 0 BB, striking out 10, to improve to 3-3 with a 3.83 ERA. He clearly had Arizona off balance, getting 16 swinging strikes, and entering the day with an 8.03 K/9 and 2.92 BB/9 there certainly is upside potential. While he owns a 1.35 WHIP, at least some of that obviously comes from some poor luck (he entered the day with a .324 BABIP, despite a 20.3% line drive rate). He has a history of some home run issues, and with a 44.6% groundball rate (6 groundballs vs. 5 fly balls yesterday), that is something to monitor. That said, there’s enough upside here to make him well worth owning in deeper formats.
6) The big season for Logan Morrison continues…
He went 2-5 with 1 HR, 1 RBI and 1 R, and while it wasn’t necessarily the biggest performance from what was a crazy game (Joe Mauer went 4-5 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 1 R), it may be the most notable as he’s now hitting .251 with 14 HR and 35 RBI on the season. He’s clearly taking a more home run-centric approach this season, with a career high 45.8% fly ball rate entering the day. That’s come at a price (.252 BABIP, 10.1% SwStr%), and you also have to wonder if he can maintain his 23.6% HR/FB. In other words, while he’s a must own while things are going well don’t be surprised if they go south in a hurry when/if the home runs slow down.
7) The resurgence from George Springer continued…
He went 1-3 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 1 R, his second straight game with a home run. He’s still hitting just .243, though he does have 11 HR, 28 RBI and 32 R. He should see his average rise (.270 BABIP, compared to a .314 career mark), and the biggest “knock” against him is the lack of stolen bases (he’s 0-for-2 on the season). Maybe he starts to run a little bit more, but even if he doesn’t the value is there in the other categories. He should continue to be viewed as one of the better outfield options in the league, so don’t lose hope or look for a negative.
8) Does a big day from Yasiel Puig mean much…
He didn’t start, but came in early on and ultimately went 2-4 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 2 R. It broke a slump over the past seven games (1-21), and while he does have 9 HR that doesn’t mean that it eliminates the concerns. He entered the day with a poor line drive rate (14.5%), leading to a .236 BABIP, struggling with swings and misses (12.3% SwStr%) and driving the ball into the ground far too often (48.1% groundball rate). So the upside in his average is minimal and you also have to be concerned with his power. In other words, don’t let one big game deceive you.
9) Is it time to give up on Andrew Triggs…
He allowed 6 R (1 earned) on 6 H and 1 BB, striking out 3, on 6.0 IP, with the big blow being Judge’s grand slam. It was a poor outing, but given the unearned runs it didn’t have a negative impact on his numbers. Entering the day with an 11.3% SwStr% and 51.0% groundball rate, there obviously is a lot to like in the peripherals (though both numbers were down yesterday). He also had struggled with a 69.7% strand rate, so luck hasn’t been the issue. It’s not to say that he’s quite this good (2.64 ERA, 1.14 WHIP), but he should remain at least a spot play moving forward (though that doesn’t mean we’d trust him against Washington this week). That said, we’d pick our spots carefully.
10) Has Matt Harvey finally started to turn the corner…
While Tyler Glasnow continued to struggle (5 ER on 8 H over 5.0 IP), Harvey turned in one of his better starts of the season as he allowed 1 ER on 6 H and 2 BB, striking out 4, over 6.0 IP. He made one mistake, as Gregory Polanco took him deep (2-4, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 R), but otherwise had an impressive evening. He had walked at least 4 batters in three straight starts (and at least 3 in five straight starts), so avoiding free passes was a big step. Of course home runs have been an issue (12 HR over 56.1 IP) and it’s not like he was generating a lot of swings and misses (10). In other words, while it was a strong start it’s not enough to sway us much. He’s hardly back and remains a risky option moving forward.
Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs, CBS Sports
Make sure to check out all of our updated rankings:
|First Base||April 26|
|Second Base||May 1|
|Third Base||May 4|