10 Important Stories From 09/10/17 Box Scores: Dominic Smith Concerns, Is Carson Fulmer For Real & More

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

Victor Robles made his first career start, hitting fifth and going 1-2 with 1 RBI (though we shouldn’t suddenly expect him to receive regular playing time).  The Yankees received big days from both Gary Sanchez (3-4, 2 HR, 2 RBI, 4 R) and Aaron Judge (2-2, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 2 R) en route to a 16 run onslaught.  Jacob deGrom settled for a no decision, but he had a strong rebound allowing 2 ER on 3 H and 3 BB, striking out 10, over 6.0 IP.  What else happened on the field that we need to know about?  Let’s take a look:

 

1) Teoscar Hernandez explodes to pace the Blue Jays…
Toronto would score 8 runs against Anibal Sanchez (4.2 IP, 7 ER, 12 H, 1 BB, 5 K) and the Tigers, with Hernandez obviously being the biggest start.  He finished 3-4 with 2 HR, 5 RBI and 3 R, the explosion that Toronto has been waiting for.  He has been getting regular playing time since being recalled and there’s little reason to think that the team won’t continue to take a long look at him to see if he could be an important piece in ’18.  He had 18 HR and 16 SB at Triple-A and has long been an intriguing mix of power and speed.  The question has been a mediocre batting average (.269 over his minor league career), despite an ability to get on base (10.3% walk rate at Triple-A this season), as he’s struck out a bit too much (22.4% at Triple-A in ’17) and also potentially putting the ball in the air too much (45.7% in ’17).  If he can even hit .260 he’s going to have tremendous upside and as long as the playing time is there he’s worth rolling the dice on for the finish to the season.

 

2) Despite a home run, the concerns grow for Dominic Smith…
Sure he went 2-5 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 1 R, extending his hitting streak to five games, but he also struck out twice (his fourth straight game with 2 K).  The question facing Smith upon his promotion was his ability to hit for power, not average, so the fact that he entered the day with a 24.1% strikeout rate (courtesy of a 12.9% SwStr% and a 37.0% O-Swing%) is highly concerning.  It’s not to say that he doesn’t simply need an adjustment period to facing MLB pitching, so we don’t want to write him off completely.  That said the stock is clearly on the decline barring a change in his approach.

 

3) Maybe we shouldn’t be questioning Alex Cobb anymore…
OK, we’re not going to go that far despite a strong start against the Red Sox where he allowed just 1 R on 4 H and 3 BB, striking out 5, over 5.0 IP to get the W.  Sure he did generate groundballs (8 groundballs vs. 1 fly ball), but he also was simply not getting swings and misses (6 yesterday).  That’s been the biggest issues, as the groundballs (51.8%) and control (1.89 BB/9) have been extremely good in the second half.  However a meager 6.4% SwStr%, leading to a pedestrian strikeout rate, will ultimately cap his potential as a backend starter and little more.  Unless that changes heading into ’18, that’s all he’s going to continue to be.

 

4) Carson Fulmer thrives against the San Francisco Giants…
No one would’ve expected much, especially against Madison Bumgarner (5.0 IP, 6 ER, 10 H, 1 BB, 4 K), but the Giants’ ace continued his swoon while Fulmer was stellar.  Going 6.0 innings he allowed 1 ER on 3 H and 3 BB, striking out 9, with his lone mistake being a home run to Jarrett Parker (1-4, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R).  Of course we also need to temper our expectations, despite the potential upside, considering he struggled with a 6.86 K/9, 4.64 BB/9 and 1.29 HR/9 in 25 starts at Triple-A this season.  It’s not like he answered any of those questions yesterday, considering the walks, lack of groundballs (2 groundballs vs. 7 fly balls) and solid but unspectacular swing strike count (12).  Given the risk and without a guaranteed spot in the rotation he’s simply not worth the gamble in redraft formats.

 

5) A gem from Michael Wacha…
Then again it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, considering he entered the day with a 3.45 ERA at home and a 5.10 ERA on the road.  Taking on Pittsburgh in St. Louis he was absolutely dominant, tossing 8.0 shutout innings allowing just 5 H and 0 BB while striking out 7.  Of course you would think that he’d be better than his overall numbers anyways, as he entered the day with an 8.43 K/9, 3.06 BB/9 and 48.4% groundball rate.  The problems have been more luck based (.331 BABIP, 71.9% strand rate) though we can’t suddenly expect things to change.  Consider him a solid option when pitching at home, but on the road he’s purely a matchup based play.

 

6) Zach Davies dominates the Chicago Cubs…
Pitching in Chicago he was fantastic, allowing 1 ER on 7 H and 1 BB, striking out 6, over 7.0 IP to improve to 17-8 with a 3.67 ERA.  He’s now allowed 2 ER or fewer in six straight starts and has not allowed a home run in eight straight.  That said it’s not like he’s an elite groundball pitcher (49.4% entering the day, 48.4% for his career), nor does he generate enough strikeouts to excite anyone.  Here’s a classic example of wins distorting a pitchers value, and there’s a good chance he comes crashing back to earth (if not before year’s end, then in ’18).

 

7) The Yankees explode, at least most of them…
He went 0-5 yesterday, despite the Yankees piling up 16 runs and 18 hits, and after showing some promise upon his return from the DL the wheels have again fallen off.  Since the calendar turned to September he’s gone 3-24 with 0 HR, 1 RBI and 1 R, and while there is still some upside it’s hard to imagine the Yankees sticking with him considering the other options that they have (like Tyler Austin or Todd Frazier).  At this point it’s hard to envision much value over the final few weeks, as the Yankees need to focus on getting into the playoffs.  Stash him in keeper/dynasty formats, otherwise move on.

 

8) If you doubted Robbie Ray, don’t…
Sure it was against the Padres but he was lights out, allowing 2 ER on 4 H and 2 BB, striking out 12, over just 6.0 IP.  He had an unbelievable 26 swinging strikes on the day and now has at least 10 K in three straight starts (and 9+ K in four straight).  In these 4 starts since returning from the DL he’s gone 4-0 while allowing 4 ER on 13 H and 6 BB, striking out 45, over 24.2 IP.  Is he really quite this good?  Obviously not, but there is simply no questioning the strikeout stuff (he has 196 K over 144.0 IP overall this season).  He’s quickly emerging as one of the premier strikeout pitchers in the league, though there does remain at least slight concern over his control (4.04 BB/9 entering the day) and a potential propensity for home runs (37.2% groundball rate).  Of course strikeouts tend to overshadow such things, so view him as one of the better options.

 

9) Trevor Story goes deep once again…
It was his second straight game with a home run, though he finished 1-4 with 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R and 2 K.  Despite the mini power surge strikeout remain a significant issue, entering the day with an abysmal 36.2% mark.  Of course that’s not the only issue, as he’s clearly also started selling out for the long ball as well.  Last year he had a 23.6% line drive rate, down to 17.3% entering the day in ’17 as he also owns a 48.4% fly ball rate.  Strikeouts plus fly balls are generally not a good mix, and while he will hit for some power he will also continue to lose AB to Ian Desmond.

 

10) Another poor outing from Dallas Keuchel…
We all knew that he wasn’t quite the pitcher we saw prior to getting hurt, but no one expected the falloff to be quite this hard.  Granted he’s mixed some solid starts in there, but you would’ve thought a matchup with the A’s in Oakland would’ve been one he’d thrive in.  Instead he struggled, allowing 4 ER on 6 H and 4 BB, striking out 4, over 5.2 IP.  He’s now allowed 4+ ER in two of his past three starts and has allowed a home run in eight of his nine starts since coming off the DL (his ERA has gone from 1.67 to 3.03).  Obviously we wouldn’t expect home runs to be an issue, considering his elite groundball rates, and you have to think that he will right the ship.  That said it’s getting extremely frustrating.

 

Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs

Make sure to check out our Mid-Season Top 50 Prospects by clicking here!

One comment

  1. Mitch says:

    Is Ray top 20 nex year? And where do u value guys like Tanaka and Darvish who were considered top 20ish heading into the year, where do u have them for 2018?

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