by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
It was a big day for Joey Votto, who went 4-4 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 2 R (even more notable is that the generally patient Votto saw just 8 pitches in his 4 AB). Gary Sanchez had his own big day against David Price (5.0 IP, 6 R, 8 H, 4 BB, 4 K), going 2-4 with 2 HR, 5 RBI and 3 R. Trea Turner was feeling frisky on the bases, going 3-4 with 2 R and 3 SB against the Orioles. What else happened on the field that we need to know about? Let’s take a look:
1) Back in the leadoff spot, is Matt Carpenter turning the corner…
He went 2-4 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 1 R yesterday, putting him at 3-8 with 2 HR, 3 RBI and 2 R over the past two games (both of which were spent hitting atop the order). Last season he did some significant damage from that spot (.276, 20 HR, 65 RBI, 73 R over 427 AB), but up until now he had primarily been used in the third spot of the order in ’17. It’s hard to use that as the reason for his struggles, as we were always expecting things to turn around (7.4% SwStr%, .227 BABIP) even with his elevated fly ball rate (50.0%). We’ll consider this a coincidence, though don’t be surprised if the Cardinals continue to march him out there atop the order. That will hurt his RBI potential, though it will increase his runs scored so just keep that in mind.
2) Michael Fulmer struggles against the Angels…
He failed to complete five innings, allowing 5 ER on 9 H and 0 BB, striking out 1, over 4.1 IP. He’s now allowed 5 ER in back-to-back starts, and 3+ ER in four of his past five (his ERA has gone from 2.54 to 3.40 in the process). He clearly wasn’t fooling anyone, with just 4 swinging strikes, and he entered the day with a 9.7% SwStr% helping lead to a 7.08 K/9 (down from last year’s 7.47 K/9). He has shown great control and has been inducing groundballs (48.9% entering the day), but without the strikeouts his overall appeal is going to be capped. Consider him more of a backend option, especially while he’s struggling.
3) Chris Iannetta has a surprisingly monster game…
Hitting second in the order (which alone was a bit of a surprise) he went 3-5 with 1 HR, 7 RBI and 3 R. You can be sure that his placement in the order was due to a southpaw being on the mound, as he entered the day with a .367/.406/.700 slash against them. That said he entered the day with a 28.1% strikeout rate and an unsustainable 26.9% HR/FB (12.5% for his career). While it was a big game, does anyone truly believe he can continue producing anywhere near where he has (8 HR and 20 RBI)? Maybe as a spot play in daily formats against a lefty, but that’s about it.
4) A strong bounce back from Michael Pineda…
After 5 ER over 5.0 IP in his previous outing he starred against Boston, allowing 1 R (0 earned) on 4 H and 2 BB, striking out 8, over 7.0 IP. When Boston did make contact they were driving the ball into the ground, with 8 groundballs vs. 4 fly balls on the day. Despite that type of groundball stuff (50.3% groundball rate entering the day), to go along with strikeouts (9.32 K/9) and control (2.09 BB/9), he’s struggled with home runs (1.81 HR/9) and that’s led to some inconsistencies. When he keeps the ball in the ballpark he’s showing dominant stuff/peripherals, it’s all about learning to do it every time out. If he gets there or not remains to be seen, but the good outweighs the risk.
5) Maybe there’s still hope for Joe Ross…
After allowing 11 ER over 7.0 IP in back-to-back starts (5+ ER in four of five), there were questions in regards to whether or not Ross could stick in the rotation. He silenced his critics yesterday, allowing 1 ER on 4 H and 0 BB, striking out 12, over 7.1 IP against the Orioles. It was a highly impressive outing, but is it enough to convince us? His 17 swinging strikes were impressive, and this outing certainly helps extend his leash in terms of his spot in the rotation. That said, does this one outing guarantee him a spot indefinitely? Does it ensure that he can get the job done? One of the biggest questions is if he can thrive with basically two pitches, so his next start against the Braves (who he faced on April 19, allowing 3 ER over 7.0 IP) will be telling. There’s talent, so be cautiously optimistic, but he’s not a lock.
6) What happened to Gerrit Cole…
While Edinson Volquez followed up his no-hitter in style (7.0 IP, 0 R, 3 H, 2 BB, 8 K), Cole was taking one on the chin. Lasting just 4.2 IP he allowed 7 ER on 11 H and 1 BB, striking out 5. It’s the second straight start where he allowed 7 ER, and he’s allowed 4+ ER in four straight starts leading to his ERA ballooning from 2.84 all the way to 4.83. Entering the day his biggest issue was home runs (1/88 HR/9), though that’s never been the case before (0.71 HR/9 for his career, 46.0% groundball rate in ’17) and he didn’t allow a home run yesterday. You can argue that he was due for a correction in his strand rate (even with three poor starts heading into yesterday, his strand rate sat at 78.6%), but that should be behind him now. In other words, we all know he has the stuff and there’s reason to believe that he’s going to turn things around. It’s been an awful stretch, but stick with him.
7) Derek Norris has himself a day…
As those in deeper formats get ready to move on from Norris, with Wilson Ramos closing in on his return to the lineup, Norris reminds us that he does still have upside as he went 2-3 with 2 HR, 3 RBI and 2 R. Of course he’s still hitting just .200 on the season and over his past six games he’s gone 3-22, with all three hits being home runs (over his past 13 games he’s 5-42). It was a nice day, but there appears to be little chance that he keeps a job as anything more than a backup catcher once Ramos is ready to return and regularly get behind the plate.
8) A solid outing for Ben Lively in defeat…
Taking on the Braves he allowed 3 ER on 9 H and 2 BB, striking out 3, over 7.0 IP but was outpitched by R.A. Dickey (7.0 IP, 1 R, 3 H, 0 BB, 8 K). While Lively owns a 2.57 ERA over his first two starts (14.0 IP), he’s shown limited strikeout stuff and that’s a significant concern. Just look at how he’s gotten his strikes over the two games (130 total):
- Called Strikes – 20
- Swinging Strikes – 13
- Foul Balls – 51
- Balls in Play – 46
In other words he’s really not fooling anyone, nor was he during his time at Triple-A (K/9 of 6.88 and 7.19 over the past two seasons). Throw in the potential to be home run prone and it’s not a pretty mix. Despite strong results, he’s not a wise investment in anything but the deepest of formats.
9) No win, but Lance McCullers continues to prove he’s for real…
Taking on the Royals he allowed 1 ER on 2 H and 2 BB, striking out 8, over 7.0 IP. He was getting enough swinging strikes (15) and also generating groundballs (11 groundballs vs. 2 fly balls), as he continues to show all three skills that are important for success (10.46 K/9, 2.71 BB/9 and 61.7% groundball rate entering the day). With his luck not outrageous (.287 BABIP, 78.8% strand rate), he’s clearly emerging as a Top 20 starting pitcher… With one caveat, of course. There were questions about his control entering the season, so we’ll have to watch that and make sure he doesn’t regress in that regard. If he can keep it going, the sky is truly the limit.
10) Does Christian Bregman warrant our attention…
His numbers are skewed, thanks to allowing 10 ER against the Nationals (courtesy of 4 HR), but since then he’s been pitching well. After allowing 2 R (1 earned) on 4 H and 2 BB, striking out 6, over 5.0 IP against the Twins yesterday he’s now allowed 5 ER over 18.0 IP in his past three starts (and has allowed 3 ER or fewer in five of his six starts). The big question is whether or not he can keep the ball in the ballpark, something he hasn’t proven capable of doing (37.5% groundball rate for his career). He also hasn’t generated many strikeouts, and while he did have 13 swinging strikes yesterday is it enough to convince us? For now he’s more of a streaming option as opposed to a pitcher to trust.
Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs, CBS Sports
Make sure to check out all of our updated rankings:
|First Base||June 3|
|Second Base||June 5|