by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
There were several hitters who had big days at the plate:
- Ryan Zimmerman, playing for the first time since Friday, didn’t miss a beat as he went 3-4 with 2 HR, 3 RBI and 3 R
- Andrew McCutchen helped to pace the Pirates, going 2-4 with 2 HR, 3 RBI and 2 R
- Rougned Odor awoke from his slumber, going 3-4 with 2 HR, 3 RBI and 2 R
- Matt Carpenter enjoyed the double header, going 4-8 with 1 HR, 3 RBI and 3 R
What else happened that we need to know about? Let’s take a look:
1) Joe Ross regresses in a hurry…
Everyone wanted to get excited after he had 12 K against the Orioles in his previous outing, but the good feelings quickly disappeared in this one. Going 5.2 innings against the Braves Ross allowed 5 ER on 9 H and 3 BB, striking out 2. He’s now allowed 5 ER or more in five of his eight starts this season and while we can claim poor luck has been the issue (he entered the day with a .355 BABIP and 66.0% strand rate), the issues go deeper than that. As we’ve said before, primarily utilizing just two pitches makes it difficult for Ross to work deep into games, because the repertoire isn’t there to keep opponents off balance. That’s what cost him in this one, as he allowed 2 R in the fourth inning and 3 more in the sixth. Would it be a surprise if he ultimately ended up in the bullpen (where he could fill a need)? It’s something to watch, but at this point Ross is impossible to trust.
2) Just when we grow frustrated with Gerrit Cole, he delivers…
Surprisingly the Rockies have been one of the better road offenses this season, but Cole was able to silence their bats and pick up a W yesterday. Going 7.0 innings he allowed 1 R on 3 H and 3 BB, striking out 3, snapping a horrendous four start stretch (23 ER over 19.1 IP). Of course he had just 7 swinging strikes, with this being the fourth time in his past six starts that he’s struck out 3 batters or fewer. That’s going to be something to watch, because without strikeouts he’s not going to return to the ace-like status he was showing early in the season. That’s not to say he won’t be usable (he entered the day with a 2.00 BB/9 and 45.7% groundball rate), just value him accordingly.
3) Jacob Faria stars for the Rays…
The injury to Matt Andriese has opened up an opportunity, and Faria has the potential to hold down a rotation spot for the foreseeable future. Sure the Rays gave him a big lead early (Marco Estrada was tagged for 6 ER on 12 H over 3.1 IP), but that takes nothing away from what Faria did. Over 6.1 IP he allowed 1 ER on 6 H and 1 BB, striking out 8, to improve to 2-0 with a 1.42 ERA in his two MLB starts. In 24 Triple-A starts over the past two seasons (126.1 IP), he’s racked up 148 K vs. 54 BB and that shows his potential. That said there is some risk of home run issues creeping up (fly ball rates of 39.5% and 32.3%) and he’s also been hit relatively hard at Triple-A (line drive rates of 21.5% and 26.2%). While he’s worth owning, don’t lock him into your lineup quite yet. Pitching in the AL East, there will certainly be some growing pains.
4) Cody Bellinger homers for the third straight game…
It’s come at the right time, with Adrian Gonzalez hitting the DL without a timeframe for his return, as Bellinger is locked into playing time at first base. He finished the day going 3-4 with 2 HR, 4 RBI and 2 R, bringing him to .261 with 17 HR and 39 RBI on the season. Over these past three games he’s gone 6-12 with 5 HR, 8 RBI and 5 R, cementing his spot in the middle of the batting order. Of course there are some warning signs in the underlying numbers, like a 32.2% strikeout rate (14.6% SwStr%) and 50.5% fly ball rate. Both of those indicate that he may be swinging for the fences a little too much, and that could lead to significant average issues. It’s something to monitor, and something we’ll dive a bit deeper into in the near future.
5) Brandon Drury’s home run binge continues…
He had a monster day, going 4-5 with 1 HR, 3 RBI and 1 R (also adding a pair of doubles). He’s now homered in three straight games, and in four of his past seven, bringing him to 8 HR and 28 RBI on the season. The sudden spike in home runs shouldn’t come as a complete surprise, as he’s added 17 doubles and 1 triple (showing his upside potential). While you can say the fly ball rate isn’t conducive for much power (28.2% entering the day), his 15.9% HR/FB is right in line with his career pace (15.3%). He also doesn’t strikeout excessively (21.2%) and isn’t benefiting from luck (.336 BABIP). There’s a ton of value and there’s little reason to think he’s not going to remain a productive option.
6) A strong start from Jon Lester…
The Cubs jumped on Zack Wheeler (1.2 IP, 8 ER, 6 H, 3 BB, 4 K) and the Mets, so Lester just had to manage the game. He did more than that, however, allowing 1 ER on 5 H and 1 BB, striking out 10, over 7.0 IP. It breaks a fairly rough three game stretch, which saw him allow 13 ER with 12 K over 14.1 IP. While he entered the day with a 4.13 ERA, his 8.96 K/9, 3.18 BB/9 (which is up slightly from past seasons) and 50.0% groundball rate all indicated better results. Throw in a 10.9% SwStr% and 30.3% O-Swing%, and there’s reason to believe in an improvement in his control as well. It’s never a guarantee, but this strong start could easily lead to a nice run.
7) Eddie Rosario has a monster day, but did anyone benefit from it…
When your team compiled 20 R on 28 H there obviously are going to be plenty of productive bats in the lineup. However Rosario obviously had the biggest day of them all, going 4-5 with 3 HR, 5 RBI and 3 R. Not only were these his first HR since May 31, he also hadn’t picked up an RBI since then as well (he had scored 3 R). Obviously they were uninspiring numbers heading into the day, as he’s continued to struggle with his plate discipline (12.8% SwStr%, 41.1% O-Swing%). Considering the day the rest of the offense had, as well as the fact that he saw just 9 pitches in his 5 AB, chalk this one up to a bit of an aberration that most people saw produced while sitting on their waiver wire.
8) Brad Peacock is a strikeout machine…
Taking on the Rangers he lasted just 4.2 innings (96 pitches), as he struggled mightily with his control. He allowed 1 ER on 2 H and 4 BB, but he also struck out 10 batters courtesy of 18 swinging strikes. He’s now struck out 8+ batters in four of his five starts, but he’s also failed to go 5.0 innings four of the starts and has back-to-back 4 BB games. Those last two points are significant issues, and he hasn’t gotten opponents to swing outside of the strike zone regardless of the role he’s pitched in (24.2% O-Swing%). There was a time that he was considered a high level starting pitching prospect, but his control has always been an issue. Unless he finds that he’s going to be difficult trust, especially as it prevents him from working deeper into games.
9) Franchy Cordero leads the Padres to victory…
Batting second he went 3-5 with 2 HR, 2 RBI and 3 R, giving him 3 HR over the past two games (5-10, 3 HR, 4 RBI, 5 R). He’s now hitting .327 with 8 extra base hits over 52 AB in the Majors, though that doesn’t mean we should get excited. He’s never been known as a power threat, and he has significantly struggled with strikeouts this season, both at Triple-A (31.1%) and in the Majors (39.2% entering the day). Considering he posted marks of 25.8% at High-A and 25.4% at Double-A a year ago, it’s a struggle that’s likely to continue. While it was an impressive day, it’s not something to make a move on.
10) A strong showing for Ben Lively against the Red Sox…
He allowed 3 ER on 8 H and 2 BB, striking out 2, over 7.0 IP in a start at Fenway Park. It’s a solid outing, though it doesn’t do anything to alleviate the concerns we have for him. He’s now struck out 5 batters over his three starts (21.0 IP) and while he only allowed 1 HR in this one there remains a strong possibility that he struggles in that regard (8 groundballs vs. 10 fly balls). Those two things will ultimately add up to some disastrous outings, so while he’s pitching well for now he’s simply not a pitcher to trust.
Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs
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