by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
The Mets got a boost from two players returning from the DL, as Yoenis Cespedes made his presence felt in the first game of a double header (2-5 with 1 HR, 4 RBI and 1 R) and Steven Matz was in midseason form in the second (7.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 H, 1 BB, 2 K). Lorenzo Cain carried a Royals offense that racked up 12 R and 14 H, as he went 3-5 with 2 HR, 5 RBI and 3 R. Four Yankees drove in at least 3 RBI, led by Aaron Judge (3-4, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 3 R) and Gary Sanchez (3-4, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 2 R) en route to a 16-1 drubbing of the Orioles.
What else happened on the field that we need to know about? Let’s take a look:
1) Sean Newcomb shines in his MLB debut…
Unfamiliarity can sometimes be a beautiful thing, and it’s easy to chalk about a lot of his success to it in this one. That doesn’t take away from his impressive performance, as he allowed 1 R (0 ER) on 4 H and 2 BB, striking out 7, over 6.1 IP against the Mets. He was showing both swinging strikes (12) and groundballs (7, compared to 5 fly balls) and with the pedigree you’d think that we’d be advocating buying at any expense. It’s not a surprise that he pitched well in this one, but it doesn’t eliminate the concerns (which we discussed on our Prospect Page, and you can view for yourself by clicking here). Remember he is the same pitcher who owned a 5.15 BB/9 over 57.2 IP at Triple-A prior to his promotion, has a history of control issues and also was getting hit incredibly hard (27.7% line drive rate). In other words, while the upside is there it’s going to take more than just one start to convince us.
2) A dominating performance from Carlos Martinez…
Sure it was against the Phillies, but Martinez was nearly unhittable in this one en route to a complete game shutout. He allowed just 4 H and 1 BB, striking out 11 in the process. This comes a few days after he appeared primed to dominate the Reds, before he imploded in the seventh inning. That said he’s now posted 8+ K in four straight starts and owns a 2.95 ERA, 1.04 WHIP and 99 K over 88.1 IP on the season. While you may want to argue a little bit of luck (.258 BABIP entering the day), when you have these skills it’s almost hard not to be successful (prior to this start):
- 98 K/9
- 29 BB/9
- 0% groundball rate
Always viewed as an emerging ace, it appears he’s living up to the billing.
3) Jeff Hoffman dominates the Cubs…
He allowed 1 R on 4 H and 1 BB, striking out 8, over 6.1 IP to improve to 4-0 with a 2.33 ERA and 0.74 WHIP over 27.0 IP. He’s struck out at least 7 batters in each of his four starts and he’s also walked just 3 batters overall. The concern is going to be the potential propensity to allow home runs, entering the day with a 25.0% groundball rate (5 groundballs vs. 6 fly ball yesterday). He was better than that at Triple-A (46.0%), though that’s not a great number and it could ultimately cause an issue pitching half his games in Coors Field. For now consider him more of a streaming option.
4) J.T. Realmuto continues to rake…
He went 3-4 with 1 HR, 3 RBI and 1 R, also adding 2 doubles. Over his modest four-game hitting streak he’s gone 7-17 with 2 HR, 5 RBI and 4 R. Well that may not tell us a lot, he’s also significantly improved his plate discipline this season, entering the day with a 7.8% SwStr% and career best 25.9% O-Swing% (32.1% for his career). While he hasn’t been stealing as often as we’d like (2 SB) and he’s also struggled with his line drive rate (15.4%), both of those should improve in time. As long as he continues to manage the strike zone he’s going to be one of the best offensive catchers in the league.
5) Has Mike Fiers emerged as a strong option…
Taking on the Angels he allowed 1 R (0 earned) on 2 H and 2 BB, striking out 8, over 7.1 IP. Over his past three starts (18.1 IP) he’s now allowed 4 ER on 14 H and 6 BB, striking out 20, though that doesn’t mean we should get excited. He’s had significant home run issues (2.81 HR/9), and that’s something that has been the trend throughout his career (1.36 HR/9 for his career). He’s also benefited from some luck (86.0% strand rate entering the day) and despite the recent success has never been considered a high level strikeout threat. Ride him while he’s hot, but don’t get infatuated.
6) Yonder Alonso, hit machine…
While the A’s split their double header with the Rays, Alonso was the clear star combining to go 7-10 with 2 RBI and 1 R (Ryon Healy was a close second, going 4-10 with 1 HR, 3 RBI and 2 R). Alonso is now hitting .314 with 16 HR and 36 RBI, though that doesn’t mean that there aren’t concerns about his ability to maintain his current pace. He entered the day with a 50.9% fly ball rate, 27.1% HR/FB (8.6% for his career) and .300 BABIP. With that many fly balls he may not be able to maintain an elevated BABIP, even with the HR/FB, and if the home runs slow down the average will really plummet. He’s been a great story and remains a must use, just know the risks moving forward.
7) Is it time to give up on the underwhelming Justin Verlander…
After leaving his last start after 2.0 IP due to injury, Verlander followed it up with a mediocre showing in Boston. He needed 108 pitches to get through 5.0 innings, allowing 3 ER on 5 H and 4 BB, striking out 3, to take the L. He now owns a 4.68 ERA and 1.48 WHIP on the season, so it’s hard to simply blame his poor outing on the injury. His biggest problem has been his control, entering the day with a 4.24 BB/9, as his SwStr% (9.1%) and O-Swing% (30.6%) are in line with his 2014 marks (8.8% and 30.3%, respectively). That season he posted a 4.54 ERA and 1.40 WHIP, and with home runs being an even bigger issue (1.29 HR/9) the concerns are mounting quickly. He showed last season that he can turn it around in a hurry, but don’t consider it a given.
8) Am impressive return for Alex Wood, despite the numbers…
Taking on the Reds he allowed 3 ER on 5 H and 0 BB, striking out 7, over 5.2 IP. Two of the runs came in via a home run allowed by Josh Fields, as he was pulled with two on and two outs in the sixth inning and Fields’ failed to shut the door. That put somewhat of a damper on the return, as replacing the 3 ER with 1 ER would’ve given the start a completely different feel. Still he was generating swings and misses (15) and groundballs (8 groundballs vs. 2 fly balls), showing an elite level skillset we once believed was there. Always viewed as a potential Top 25 type starter, as long as he stays healthy Wood should continue to produce usable numbers the rest of the way (even if he regresses from his 80.3% strand rate).
9) Another good start from Jose Berrios…
Taking on the Giants he improved to 5-1 with a 2.84 ERA as he allowed 2 ER on 6 H and 3 BB, striking out 8. He has allowed more base runners in his recent starts (17 H and 9 BB over 16.1 IP), though he still owns a 1.00 WHIP so it is easy to argue that he was due for this top of stretch. The control is the big thing to watch, as it was what handcuffed in him his atrocious MLB debut in ’16 (5.40 BB/9 entering the day). That hasn’t been the case in the minors, however, and it’s easy to envision him turning it back around. He has elite stuff, and everyone knows it, so continue to view him as an above average option moving forward.
10) Those waiting for Ian Kennedy continue to be disappointed…
Taking on the Padres he allowed 4 ER on 6 H and 2 BB, striking out 5, over 6.0 IP. In five starts since coming off the DL he’s allowed 22 ER (4+ in each start) over 21.0 IP (and dating back to before landing on the DL he’s allowed 4+ ER in six straight starts). Amazingly you can actually argue that he’s been lucky this season (.228 BABIP, 13.8% line drive rate), both of which could rise significantly. With both control (4.45 BB/9) and home run (1.75 HR/9) issues, the numbers could really get ugly. There’s little reason to hold out hope.
Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs
Make sure to check out all of our updated rankings:
|First Base||June 3|
|Second Base||June 5|