10 Important Stories From 07/09/17 Box Scores: Corbin Turning Corner, Should We Give Up On Cueto & More

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

Carlos Correa led the Astros’ 19-run onslaught, going 4-5 with 2 HR, 5 RBI and 3 R.  Adam Jones closed the first half in style, going 2-4 with 2 HR, 5 RBI and 2 R.  Clayton Kershaw dominated the Royals, allowing 2 ER on 6 H and 0 BB, striking out 13, in a complete game victory.  What else happened on the field that we need to know about?  Let’s take a look:

 

1) A step backwards for Masahiro Tanaka…
Just when we wanted to believe he turned the corner Tanaka struggles, this time against the Brewers, as he allowed 5 ER on 6 H and 1 BB, striking out 5, over 4.1 IP.  The big blows were a pair of home runs, with Travis Shaw (2-4, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 1 R) and Stephen Vogt (1-3, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R) doing the damage.  The outing broke a streak of three consecutive strong outings for Tanaka, with the key being that he had not allowed a HR in any of them.  Obviously that trend reversed itself, and with 21 HR allowed on the year it’s been the biggest reason for his struggles.  He was getting swings and misses (16) and while his control has regressed, no one is about to complain about his 2.40 BB/9 entering the day.  If he can avoid allowing a home run he’ll be fine, but at this point that’s a hard sell.

 

2) Jon Lester’s disastrous start…
While his defense didn’t do him any favors, Lester was unable to get out of the first inning as he gave up 10 R (4 earned) on 6 H and 3 BB over 0.2 IP.  Of course he can’t blame the defense for the 2 HR allowed, with Francisco Cervelli (2-4, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 1 R) and Andrew McCutchen (1-4, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 R) taking him deep.  There’s no way to describe Lester besides a disappointment, as he finishes the first half at 5-6 with a 4.25 ERA and 1.34 WHIP.  Of course a lot of his struggles have been more luck related than anything, as he entered the day with a 9.22 K/9, 2.85 BB/9 and 49.0% groundball rate.  The numbers support better than his .311 BABIP and 71.6% strand rate and his 11.2% SwStr% would represent a career best.  In other words, coming off of this start may be the perfect time to try and buy low.

 

3) Another poor showing for Sean Newcomb…
It did come against the Nationals, with his previous start coming against the Astros, but the takeaway is still a negative one.  Newcomb lasted just 4.0 innings allowing 4 ER on 4 H and 4 BB, striking out 7, to get saddled with the L.  Control has always been the biggest question facing him, so 6 BB over his past 7.1 IP (along with 11 ER on 14 H) is a bitter disappointment.  No one is going to argue the pure stuff, but there are going to be many days like this for the rookie.  If your goal is ’17 there are going to be pitchers with a similar upside who are much safer to consider.

 

4) Aaron Altherr makes most of new lineup spot…
Hitting atop the order for the first time this season (with Freddy Galvis, who went 2-4 with 2 HR, 3 RBI and 2 R, hitting second), Altherr went 2-3 with 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 R and 1 SB.  That gives him an impressive .284 with 14 HR, 44 RBI, 39 R and 5 SB to end the first half.  The sustainability of those numbers is significantly in question, though, considering his propensity to swing and miss (11.4% SwStr% entering the day, leading to a 26.2% strikeout rate) and unsustainable .349 BABIP (given his 19.7% line drive rate).  You also could question if he can maintain his 18.1% HR/FB, making the entire package one that may regress.  There’s always been upside in Altherr, but now may be the ideal time to try and cash in.

 

5) Will it be possible to take Tommy Pham out of the lineup…
He went 3-3 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 2 R yesterday, putting him at .299 with 11 HR and 11 SB over 204 AB.  While he’s gotten significant playing time thus far, due to injuries and demotions, the Cardinals do have four outfielders for three spots (Dexter Fowler, Randal Grichuk and Stephen Piscotty), so Pham will have to keep on hitting if he wants to see AB.  While it’s possible that he maintains his batting average (25.8% strikeout rate, despite a solid 8.9% SwStr%), the power is going to regress significantly.  Keep in mind that he entered the day with a 54.2% groundball rate, 32.3% HR/FB and just 9 additional extra base hits (8 doubles and 1 triple).  While he does have some speed he also may not be able to maintain this pace, and when those two things regress the playing time may go with it.  Don’t bank on him remaining a great option in the second half.

 

6) Kyle Freeland flirts with a no-hitter…
He lost it with one out in the ninth, as Melky Cabrera stroked a clean single.  Freeland finished with 8.1 shutout innings allowing 1 H and 3 BB, striking out 9.  It was a dazzling and surprising finish to his first half, after allowing 4+ ER in his previous three starts (and four of his last five).  He entered the day with some solid, though unimpressive numbers, most notably his 5.09 K/9 (courtesy of a 6.5% SwStr%).  He did have the strikeout pitch working yesterday, though he still managed just 14 swinging strikes so it’s not something that we can expect him to replicate moving forward.  It was a great start, but don’t make it into anything more than that.

 

7) Felix Hernandez turns back the clock…
Taking on the A’s he tossed 6.0 shutout innings allowing 2 H and 3 BB, striking out 8.  Considering he had allowed 11 ER over 18.0 IP in his first three starts off the DL, it’s easy to conclude that he’s not the pitcher that he once was.  Remember he entered the day with a career low 8.7% SwStr% and wasn’t overwhelming with 10 swinging strikes yesterday.  His velocity remains down and he’s also been hit relatively hard as he entered the day with a 25.2% line drive rate.  Yes he’s better than the numbers he had posted heading into yesterday’s start, but he’s also not this good.  See him for what he is, and that’s a decent middle of the rotation starter but someone whose name holds more appeal that his actual skill level.

 

8) Justin Turner paces the Dodger offense…
It was a big day for the 3B, going 2-4 with 2 HR, 3 RBI and 2 R.  He’s missed time due to injury, accumulating just 228 AB, but he’s certainly thrived when on the field slashing .377/.473/.583 with 27 extra base hits (17 doubles and 10 HR).  He entered the day with a 9.6% HR/FB, so there’s little reason not to buy into the power.  A .400 BABIP obviously is going to regress, but at the same time he’s simply not popping the ball up (2.4% IFFB), he’s controlling the strike zone (6.9% SwStr%, 25.6% O-Swing%) and when he hits the ball he hits it with authority (26.8% line drive rate).  He may not be a .370 hitter, but he’s certainly a .300+ hitter with power.

 

9) Another strong start for Patrick Corbin…
While he lost to the Reds it wasn’t due to his efforts, as he allowed 2 ER on 7 H and 2 BB, striking out 9, over 6.0 IP.  He’s now allowed 3 ER or fewer in six straight starts, lowering his ERA from 5.43 to 4.71.  There’s certainly a lot to like in the makeup:

  • Strikeouts – 8.12 K/9 (10.3% SwStr%, with 17 swinging strikes yesterday)
  • Control – 2.64 BB/9
  • Groundballs – 51.3% (6 groundballs vs. 3 fly ball yesterday)

His biggest problem, despite the makeup, has been home runs (1.51 HR/9 entering the day) though he’s allowed just 2 HR over this six game stretch which is a big reason for his turn around.  While he’s not going to be a must use, there’s reason to believe.

 

10) Johnny Cueto’s first half ends in disappointing fashion…
After having his start pushed back a few days Cueto struggled, allowing 6 ER on 6 H and 6 BB, striking out 2, over 6.0 IP against the Marlins.  The big blow came courtesy of Giancarlo Stanton (3-4, 2 HR, 2 RBI, 4 R), but that was obviously not the only issue.  Cueto finishes the first half with a 4.51 ERA and 1.37 WHIP, with his biggest issue being an inflated home run rate (like so many pitchers this season).  What’s interesting is that he’s seen his groundball rate plummet from last season (50.2% to 40.3% entering the day), despite his pitch usage looking fairly similar.  Considering a career mark of 45.3%, it’s not hard to see the lower number continuing (5 groundballs vs. 11 fly balls yesterday), and that should mean continued struggles.

Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs, CBS Sports

Rotoprofessor recently debuted our Reliever Reliability Quotient (RRQ), in an effort to determine whose skills translate best for late inning roles.  Make sure to check out our introduction of the stat by clicking here.

4 comments

  1. jeff says:

    I’m in a 12 team 5×5 roto keeper league. We have a very limited # of FA pickups, so some players stay on waiver wire longer than other leagues.

    Both Hoskins and Calhoun are available in my keeper league, who is the better stash for either 2nd half production or possible trade(name) value?

    I’m also looking for pitching help. Clevinger is available, but I know you see regression coming. Worth using a FA pickup on him or better used on a stash like Glasnow or Chance Adams? And if so, which one?

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      In regards to the pitching, Clevinger is the safest choice. I’m not buying Glasnow and I’m not sure Adams gets an extended look this season (depends on their trades)

      For the bats, Calhoun is a safe/solid option. Hoskins has a much higher upside, if/when an opportunity presents itself. IF you are swinging for the fences, I’d go Hoskins

  2. John says:

    I have a trade offer on the table for me to send Kela, Bedrosian, Gerrit Cole, and Keon Broxton to receive Billy Hamilton and Odorizzi/Ian Kennedy.

    What do you think? Hamilton is by far the best player in the deal – should I ask for Odorizzi or Kennedy?

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      I’d make the deal, though I don’t love either of the SP you’d be getting. I guess Odorizzi > Kennedy, but trusting either of them isn’t wise

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