by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Trea Turner ran wild against the Cubs, going 2-4 with 2 R and 4 SB. It was an impressive start for Jose Quintana, who tossed 6.1 shutout innings against the Yankees (he allowed 2 H and 4 BB, striking out 6), though his performance was clearly overshadowed. Aaron Nola (7.0 IP, 2 R, 5 H, 4 BB, 9 K) defeated James Paxton (7.0 IP, 3 R, 4 H, 3 BB, 9 K), but he certainly didn’t outpitch him. What else happened on the field that we need to know about? Let’s take a look:
1) Is it time to give up on Jake Arrieta…
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that he didn’t stack up to Max Scherzer (6.0 IP, 1 R, 2 H, 0 BB, 6 K) and took the L against the Nationals, but he didn’t need to look this bad in the process. Lasting just 4.0 IP he allowed 6 R (5 earned) on 6 H and 6 BB, striking out 4. He simply wasn’t fooling hitters, generating 5 swinging strikes, though that hasn’t been his big issue this season (10.2% SwStr% entering the day). His control, which was also poor yesterday, has also been solid in ’17 (2.66 BB/9). His velocity has been down (93.7 mph to 92.1), as has his groundballs (44.0% entering the day, 2 groundballs vs. 5 fly balls yesterday). Those two things are the biggest issues, with length in his starts also being an issue (this marks the third time in his past four starts that he’s failed to go at least 5.0 IP). At this point it’ll be impossible to get full value and he has too much upside to simply drop, so the best tact will be sliding him to your bench and waiting for a rebound.
2) Alex Cobb flirts with a no-hitter, though that doesn’t mean to buy…
He carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning, finishing with 8.0 shutout innings allowing 2 H and 1 BB, striking out 4. Unfortunately Alex Colome couldn’t hold the lead (he allowed 2 ER on 2 H and 2 BB in the ninth), leaving Cobb to settle for a no-decision. This gives Cobb four straight strong starts, and also could provide the perfect selling opportunity for owners. Keep in mind that he continues to struggle generating groundballs (8 vs. 12 fly balls yesterday, 45.7% entering the day compared to a career mark of 54.6%) and also generated just 3 swinging strikes over the entire game (7.4% SwStr% entering the day). Lack of strikeouts plus pedestrian groundball rate, when pitching in the AL East, is going to lead to some rough performances. Extract the value before it’s too late.
3) Jonathan Schoop settling into third spot in the lineup…
He was there for the third straight game, and fourth time in the past five, going 2-4 with 2 R (he’s 5-15 with 1 HR, 3 RBI and 3 R hitting out of the spot). It’s a promising move and should lead to ample opportunities for both R and RBI. The question is going to be if he can maintain his impressive overall production, as he still has development to do in his approach (though his 13.3% SwStr% and 35.1% O-Swing% both demonstrate significant improvements). With plenty of power and luck not being the issue (.330 BABIP), there’s obviously a lot to like. His stock is soaring, and there’s the potential that he continues to improve. The buying opportunity has clearly come and gone, though when he slumps (and he likely will) you may still be able to steal him.
4) Another struggle for Matthew Strahm…
Taking on the Tigers he allowed 5 ER on 6 H and 0 BB, striking out 4, over 3.2 IP with 2 HR doing the damage. He’s now allowed 10 ER on 13 H and 1 BB over 6.2 IP over his past two starts, showing that the experiment of transitioning back into the rotation simply may not work. It is just two starts and the matchups haven’t been ideal (his previous outing came against the Red Sox), but he has shown an ability to be a dominant force out of the bullpen and hasn’t shown the same upside in generating strikeouts and groundballs as a starter thus far (albeit in a small sample size). Until he shows us more, he’s a hands off proposition.
5) Orlando Arcia posts a big night…
There was a lot of offense in this one, especially from the Reds (Junior Guerra got battered to the tune of 8 ER on 8 H and 3 BB over 4.0 IP, yielding 4 HR in the process), and it’s easy to overlook the big day from Arcia. However he went 3-4 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 1 R, while hitting out of the eighth spot in the lineup, and it does deserve our attention. Of course his biggest asset is his speed, something he doesn’t get to use often due to hitting just ahead of the pitcher. He also continues to show poor plate discipline (13.2% SwStr%, 41.5% O-Swing%), so while his 19.4% strikeout rate entering the day isn’t bad it has the potential to rise significantly. Given the risks and as long as he’s hitting eighth, he’s not going to be worth using in most formats.
6) An electric Luis Severino arguably the star of the night…
To say he had nasty stuff against the White Sox may be an understatement, as he allowed 1 ER on 6 H and 0 BB, striking out 12, over 7.0 IP. Unfortunately the bullpen couldn’t hold the lead, costing him a W, but that does little to take away from the performance. The White Sox couldn’t touch him, as he racked up 24 swinging strikes, and he also generated 5 groundballs vs. 3 fly balls in the outing. After back-to-back subpar performances (9 ER over 12.0 IP) this could be labeled a “bounce back” but having entered the game with a 9.79 K/9 (courtesy of an 11.4% SwStr%), 2.47 BB/9 and 56.1% groundball rate there was little concern. His velocity is up this season (averaging 97.3 mph on his fastball) and he clearly has the stuff to be dominant.
7) Kenta Maeda tries to stick in the rotation…
He keeps getting bounced out of the starting rotation, though when he’s in there he seems to be producing. Last night he tossed 7.0 shutout innings against the Angels, allowing 4 H and 0 BB while striking out 6. He’s now allowed 1 ER on 7 H and 1 BB over 12.0 IP in his past two starts, and you would think that’s enough to get him at least a few more starts (especially while there are a few injuries to maneuver around). He now has his ERA down to 4.15 and as long as he is cutting down on the home runs allowed (he entered the day with a 1.44 HR/9) the results are going to be there. If he’s available in your league now would be the time to try and snap him up and ride the hot streak.
8) Has Sean Newcomb done enough to stick in the rotation…
Bartolo Colon is set to return today, giving the Braves six starters (though you could definitely argue that Colon doesn’t deserve another opportunity). Newcomb definitely staked his claim on a rotation spot yesterday, even though it was against the Padres, as he tossed 6.0 shutout innings allowing 6 H and 1 BB, striking out 8. He had 15 swinging strikes and continued to show better than expected control (8 BB over 24.1 IP overall, but 2 or fewer in three of his four starts). You can argue that there’s been a little bit of luck (he entered the day with a .212 BABIP and 79.6% strand rate), but there’s more strikeout stuff in his arm. The question is if he can continue avoiding walks, and if he can he’s going to thrive. The Braves can’t justify demoting him, and while there’s still risk he’s worth owning in most formats.
9) Raimel Tapia trying to earn regular AB…
He should be in the lineup most days, with Carlos Gonzalez on the DL, though he started on the bench yesterday. After D.J. LeMahieu was forced from the game Tapia entered and made an impact, going 2-3 with 1 R and 2 SB. He entered the day with a 45.1% O-Swing% (46.0% for his career in the Majors), which is something to watch closely as opposing pitchers are surely going to try and exploit his aggressiveness. He also doesn’t have big time power (though 10 HR, playing half his games in Coors, isn’t a big stretch), but he does have some speed and could be a valuable backend outfielder with AB.
10) A highly disappointing performance from Taijuan Walker…
Taking on the Cardinals he allowed 5 R (3 earned) on 6 H and 5 BB over 6.1 IP. As if the walks weren’t bad enough, he failed to register a single strikeout (and only 5 swinging strikes in the game). He’s now walked 3+ batters in four of his past five starts, though control has never been an issue before (2.61 BB/9 entering the day). He also entered the day with a 9.9% SwStr%, leading to an 8.57 K/9, so while this was a poor day it isn’t indicative of his ’17 as a whole. Throw in that he’s actually kept the ball in the ballpark, with a 0.71 HR/9, as his groundballs have been up (50.0%) and the total package is there. Don’t let this one poor performance dissuade you from that.
Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs, CBS Sports
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