by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Clayton Kershaw (7.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 H, 3 BB, 9 K, W) and Stephen Strasburg (6.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 H, 1 BB, 8 K) had the type of pitching duel we had hoped to see. Jay Bruce powered the Mets to a victory over Yu Darvish (7.1 IP, 3 ER, 3 H, 1 BB, 9 K) and the Rangers, going 2-4 with 2 HR, 3 RBI and 2 R. Kyle Schwarber enjoyed a big day, hitting ninth, going 3-4 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 2 R in what is hopefully a sign of things to come. What else happened on the field we need to know about? Let’s take a look:
1) Trevor Bauer struggles in Coors Field…
Though that doesn’t mean that the locale was the reason for his poor performance, however, as he kept the ball in the ballpark. Instead it was his control that was the biggest problem, as he allowed 4 ER on 5 H and 5 BB, striking out 3, over 3.1 IP to fall to 5-5 with a 6.10 ERA on the season. Maybe part of the problem was being brought back on short rest, after he went 1.2 innings on June 4 due to a lengthy rain delay. He also has struggled with some poor luck (66.1% strand rate, .347 BABIP), though that’s where the positives end. Even with a recent 14 K performance, his 8.8% SwStr% and 21.9% O-Swing% don’t support big strikeout numbers (11.20 K/9 entering the day) and he also has been prone to the long ball (1.69 HR/9). In other words, while the name could carry appeal and he’s posted an occasional strong performance Bauer simply isn’t a pitcher that can be trusted.
2) Another big day for Justin Smoak, but is he for real…
Playing in Oakland he had another big day, going 3-5 with 2 HR, 2 RBI and 2 R, putting him at .291 with 17 HR and 42 RBI on the season. While the power is the big story, more important has been his reduction in strikeouts (18.3% entering the day, compared to 26.2% and 32.8% the previous two seasons). He’s particularly reduced his swings and misses against breaking balls (11.55% Whiff%) and offspeed pitches (8.67% Whiff%), and if he can maintain that there’s little reason to believe that the production won’t continue. While it makes sense to be a little bit skeptical, at this point there’s reason to believe.
3) Trey Mancini doesn’t start, but makes his presence felt…
He ultimately entered as a pinch hitter and got 2 AB, making the most of them by going 2-2 with 2 HR, 5 RBI and 2 R (including a game tying blast off Tony Watson). Mancini is now hitting ,296 with 9 HR and 30 RBI on the season, with the production coming equally against RHP (.296 with 5 HR) and LHP (.296 with 4 HR). That’s not to say that he’ll be able to maintain this pace, as he swings and misses a lot (15.6% SwStr%), has had some luck on his side (.351 BABIP) and may not be able to maintain his current home run pace (20.6% HR/FB entering the day). That doesn’t mean that he’s not worth owning, but coming off a day like this selling high is something to consider.
4) Is it time to give up on Rick Porcello…
It was another poor performance, this time against the Yankees, as he allowed 6 R (5 earned) on 8 H and 2 BB, striking out 5, over 6.1 IP. He’s now allowed 8+ H in six straight starts, and this was the second consecutive outing that he’s allowed 2 HR (overall he’s allowed 14 HR over 80.2 IP). He has shown strong control this season and entered the day with a 10.8% SwStr% (12 swinging strikes yesterday), plus there has been at least some poor luck (.367 BABIP). The problem has been the home runs, as the groundballs are down this season (6 groundballs vs. 8 fly balls yesterday). He’s not as good as the 22 W indicated last season, but there also is more upside than this. While he’s never been our top choice, stashing him on the bench and seeing if he can figure it out makes sense.
5) Is Alex Meyer becoming an intriguing name to watch…
While he was outpitched by Buck Farmer (6.2 IP, 0 R, 3 H, 1 BB, 5 K), it’s easy to argue that Meyer has the more intriguing performance and also the higher upside. Going 6.0 innings he allowed 1 R (0 earned) on 3 H and 4 BB, striking out 9. He generated an impressive 16 swinging strikes and now has allowed 1 ER over his past 12.0 IP. The problem, obviously, is the control and it’s been one all season long (24 BB over 35.1 IP). He’s also primarily using just two pitches (a fastball and curveball, as he entered the day having thrown his changeup just 1.7% of the time), and you have to wonder if opponents will start figuring him out as the games progress. Those two things need to be answered before he really becomes an intriguing option.
6) Scott Schebler returns to the lineup in a big way…
After missing a few days with what turned out to be a minor shoulder injury, Schebler returned in a big way going 3-3 with 1 HR, 1 RBI and 2 R. He’s now hitting .253 with 17 HR on the season, though only 31 RBI. He’s profiling more and more like an all or nothing option (despite the hits yesterday), considering his swing and miss tendencies (13.6% SwStr%, which means there’s a good chance the strikeouts rise), bloated HR/FB (26.2%, before yesterday’s home run) and unimpressive batted ball profile:
- Line Drives – 15.3%
- Groundballs – 42.4%
- Fly Balls – 42.4%
He should continue to hit for power, but would it be surprising to see him hit closer to .220 the rest of the way?
7) Jacob Faria takes advantage of a spot start…
The question now is going to be if it was enough to keep him in the Majors, or if he’ll be ticketed back to Triple-A after what was an impressive first start in the Majors. Taking on the White Sox he allowed 1 R on 3 H and 2 BB, striking out 5, over 6.1 IP as he had Chicago off balance all night long (16 swinging strikes) and was efficient with his pitches (95 pitches thrown). As we’ve been saying on our Prospect Page (click here to view yesterday’s Top 10 Prospects on the Cusp rankings, which included Faria) the strikeouts shouldn’t come as a surprise (15.4% SwStr% at Triple-A this season) and he’s shown enough control coming up through the minors (2.9 BB/9 overall, though a 3.8 mark at Triple-A). Home runs could be an issue (1.1 HR/9 at Triple-A this season), but at the least he’d be a deep league option and a potential streamer when he’s in the Majors.
8) Mike Foltynewicz pitches well, though he also had plenty of support…
Atlanta defeated Jerad Eickhoff (4 R over 5.0 IP) and the Phillies 14-1, with Dansby Swanson (3-4, 1 HR, 3 RBI and 3 R) and Matt Adams (1-4, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 R) making the biggest impacts. That shouldn’t take away from Foltynewicz’s production, as he tossed 7.0 shutout innings allowing 4 H and 2 BB, striking out 4. He needed just 94 pitches as he managed the game and took advantage of a struggling offense. Of course that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s going to be a great option moving forward, as he has seen his strikeout rate regress this season (7.96 K/9) as his SwStr% is not what it was (8.7% entering the day, 8 swinging strikes yesterday). He’s also been hit hard, with a 24.4% line drive rate, so it’s easy to imagine his .300 BABIP and 75.7% strand rate (both of which improved yesterday) regressing. He has potential, but be cautious moving forward.
9) Jonathan Villar responds to being back in the leadoff spot…
It was his first start in the leadoff spot since May 26, which is understandable given his struggles this season (.212/.285/.341). He had a nice day yesterday, though, going 2-4 with 1 HR, 1 RBI and 1 R and more importantly he didn’t strikeout. He entered the day with a 13.0% SwStr% and 30.9% strikeout rate, obviously an unacceptable number for a player whose best asset is his speed. When he does make contact he’s putting the ball on the ground (63.5% groundball rate) and it’s fair to think that he’ll improve upon his .289 BABIP. However unless he cuts down on the strikeouts he’s going to be a significant disappointment. It was just one game, so don’t take too much out of it.
10) Another big day for Mike Zunino…
Once thought of as a highly touted prospect, we all know Zunino has disappointed in the Majors thus far in his career. However he had another big day yesterday, going 2-3 with 2 HR, 3 RBI and 3 R, giving him a four-game hitting streak (8-15, 3 HR, 12 RBI, 5 R), but the hot streak goes beyond that. Over his past eight games he’s now 14-30 with 3 HR, 14 RBI and 6 R, adding 4 doubles as well). He does continue to strikeout, however, with 12 K vs. 2 BB over this stretch (40.0% strikeout rate over his 130 PA on the season) and ultimately that’s going to continue to cap his upside. While it’s been a nice stretch, and in two-catcher formats he’s worth utilizing, don’t get too excited.
Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball, Baseball Reference
Make sure to check out all of our updated rankings:
|First Base||June 3|
|Second Base||June 5|