10 Important Stories From 09/12/17 Box Scores: Has Teheran Turned Corner, Buying G. Richards & More

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

Gio Gonzalez struggled for the second time in his past three starts (5.0 IP, 5 ER, 7 H, 1 BB, 8 K), and while we’d expect a rebound the fact that there’s been a turn in luck should not come as a surprise (he entered the day with a .248 BABIP and 85.0% strand rate).  Rhys Hoskins continues to show off his power, going 2-5 with 2 HR, 2 RBI and 2 R.  Johnny Cueto struggled against the Dodgers, allowing 4 ER on 6 H and 4 BB over 3.2 IP in what has been a very forgettable campaign.  What else happened on the field that we need to know about?  Let’s take a look:

 

1) The good times continue to roll for Tim Anderson…
He went 2-4 with 1 RBI and 1 SB yesterday, giving him a modest four-game hitting streak (9-18, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 4 R, 3 SB).  He’s been strong dating back further than that, though, with hits in 13 of his past 15 games, though his plate discipline remains a significant concern.  He has 12 K vs. 1 BB in his 10 September games and he entered the day with a 15.8% SwStr% and 41.7% O-Swing% in the second half.  So, while he is well worth using while things are going well expecting it to continue for an extended period would be misguided.  Ultimately opposing pitchers are going to take advantage of his over-aggressiveness, so consider him a short-term play.

 

2) Has Julio Teheran finally figured things out…
He wasn’t spectacular in his last start (3 ER over 5.0 IP), but he has allowed 3 ER or less in his past four starts and in five of his past six.  The biggest key has been reducing the home runs allowed, with 2 HR over his past six starts, though at the same time you can argue that to an extent it’s been a “lucky” transformation.  Yesterday was the first time he showed more groundball rate (9 groundballs vs. 5 fly balls), as he entered the day with a 39.2% mark in the second half.  He also continues to show any big strikeout potential, entering the day with a 7.26 K/9 and 9.3% SwStr% (11 swinging strikes yesterday).  Maybe he figures it out and reinvents himself a bit for ’18, but it’s still hard to trust him.

 

3) Could Joe Biagini be a factor over the next few weeks…
At one point he looked like he was going to be a locked in fantasy option, though things went south and he was quickly returned to the bullpen.  However he was sent to Triple-A to stretch himself out again and is now back in the Majors.  Last night he unfortunately had to settle for a no decision, as Dylan Bundy matched him (6.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 H, 1 BB, 8 K), though that doesn’t detract from his impressive performance.  Going 8.0 IP he allowed 2 ER on 6 H and 0 BB, striking out 2, and he showed elite groundball stuff in the process (14 groundballs vs. 8 fly balls).  That should continue to be his strength, as he owns a minor league career 1.47 GO/AO (1.87 in the Majors this season).  The problem could be the lack of strikeouts, as he generated just 5 swinging strikes yesterday.  Sure he had a 10 K game recently, but unless he can consistently get the swings and misses he’ll be too much of a liability.

 

4) Has Mookie Betts really been a disappointment…
Maybe he hasn’t quite lived up to the preseason hype, but after going 3-5 with 2 HR, 6 RBI and 2 R yesterday, including taking Sean Manaea (3.2 IP, 7 ER, 11 H, 0 BB, 4 K), he now has 21 HR and 24 SB on the season.  It’s not just the home runs, as he’s added 42 doubles and 1 triple, and he also has 87 RBI and 90 R.  In other words it’s extremely hard to consider it a bad year, outside of maybe his .264 average.  The problem has been a regression in his BABIP, currently sitting at .267, and while you can argue that his 17.1% line drive rate doesn’t support much more of a mark his speed alone should allow him to carry a BABIP closer to .300 (he was at .322 last season, despite a 19.3% line drive rate).  Don’t be surprised if he finishes strong and he should continue to be viewed as a Top 20 pick, at worst.

 

5) Gerrit Cole’s inconsistency continues…
While he was ultimately able to go 6.0 innings he got into a hole early and allowed 6 ER on 7 H and 2 BB, though he did generate 10 K.  He had an impressive 18 swinging strikes and has 6+ K in each of his past seven starts.  Of course he’s also been trading good and spectacular outings, with 5 ER allowed in three of his past outings.  At the end of the day he has a 4.04 ERA, though he entered the day with an 8.35 K/9, 2.34 BB/9 and 46.5% strand rate.  The problem has generally been home run issues (he entered with a 1.34 HR/9 compared to a career 0.75 mark) and we’d expect him to continue being a strong option.  For now play the matchups and be cautious, but the upside is obvious.

 

6) Willie Calhoun makes his MLB debut…
Injuries have helped to open up an opportunity for the key piece of the Yu Darvish trade, and Calhoun found himself hitting seventh and playing LF for the Rangers last night.  He went 1-4 with 1 RBI in his debut, which isn’t going to blow anyone away, though we have to remember that the thing that has held him back in general has been where he fits defensively and not his offensive potential.  He hit .300 with 31 HR and 93 RBI over 486 AB at Triple-A this season, while striking out just 61 times.  As long as the AB are going to be there, and it appears that they will, he’s an intriguing flier for the final few weeks.

 

7) Kyle Gibson continues his quiet emergence…
Obviously the offense is going to grab your attention, as Minnesota racked up 16 R on 18 H, and many will want to discount the performance based on it coming against the Padres.  Gibson still tossed 6.0 shutout innings, allowing 4 H and 0 BB while striking out 6.  He’s now allowed 2 ER or fewer in each of his past five starts (5 ER over 32.2 IP) and 3 ER or fewer in nine straight.  He now has quietly posted a 3.15 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 50 K and 15 BB over 60.0 IP since the All-Star Break and at the very least he’s worth streaming when the opportunity presents itself.  That’s not to call him a lock to produce, but he’s long been on radars and it’s possible he’s finally putting things together.

 

8) An unsurprising implosion from Robert Stephenson…
He wasn’t the only Reds’ pitcher to struggle yesterday, as the Cardinals scored 13 R while piling up 14 H and 9 BB, but Stephenson led the way.  Lasting 3.0 innings he allowed 6 R (4 earned) on 5 H and 3 BB, striking out 5, and while he was getting swings and misses (12 yesterday) the other concerns we’ve had for him remain.  The biggest question has always been his control and he now owns an unsightly 6.12 BB/9 in the Majors this season.  That alone makes him impossible to trust, but when you add in a lack of groundballs (38.0% in the Majors) no amount of strikeouts could justify rolling the dice.

 

9) Jon Gray outpitches Taijuan Walker for the W…
It was a matchup of two high upside pitchers, though it was Gray who took home the W as Walker pitched well but struggled with his control (6.0 IP, 2 R, 4 H, 5 BB, 6 K).  Gray, for his part, was fantastic for 7.0 innings allowing 2 ER on 7 H and 0 BB, striking out 10, though you can argue that he was lucky to only allow 1 HR (2 groundballs vs. 8 fly balls).  Of course overall he owns a 49.5% fly ball rate, so the mark is a bit of an aberration, and he’s continued to show strikeouts (8.87 K/9) and control (2.70 BB/9).  While pitching at Coors Field gives the illusion of concern, he has posted just a 0.87 HR/9 and the biggest issue has been a .342 BABIP and a poor performance on the road (4.32 ERA, after yesterday’s impressive outing).  In other words view Gray as a viable option in all formats.

 

10) Despite the “L” Garrett Richards pitches well…
He was simply outpitched by Justin Verlander (8.0 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 1 BB, 9 K), and there’s no shame in that.  Still Richards was able to go 5.0 innings and 63 pitches, putting him in line to make an impact over the final few weeks of the season (think 80ish pitches next time out).  He allowed just 1 R on 4 H and 0 BB, striking out 4, and was doing a good job generating groundballs (7 groundballs vs. 4 fly balls).  As long as he’s healthy he’s a Top 25 SP, and now that he’s showing capable of going later into games he’ll be worth using for his final 2-3 starts.

 

Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs, MILB.com

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