10 Important Stories From 09/15/17 Box Scores: Young Starters Star (Newcomb/Fulmer) & More

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

Alex Wood had a strong rebound performance, tossing 6.0 shutout innings allowing 3 H and 1 BB, striking out 8, to defeat the Nationals.  James Paxton struggled in his return to the mound, which isn’t a surprise, allowing 3 ER on 4 H and 2 BB over 1.1 IP, and he shouldn’t be counted on in his next start either.  The resurgence of Kris Bryant continued, going 3-4 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 2 R.  What else happened on the field that we need to know about?  Let’s take a look:


1) Will Greg Bird make an impact…
Obviously Luis Severino (8.0 IP, 2 ER, 3 H, 1 BB, 7 K) and Did Gregorius (1-1, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 1 R) carried the team, but we can’t ignore Bird returning to the lineup and going 1-3 with 1 HR, 1 RBI and 2 R.  It’s been a miserable season marred by injury and strikeouts (12.9% SwStr% entering the day).  That said there is reason for hope, especially against right-handed pitching (.270 with 9 HR over 115 AB against RHP back in ’15).  It’s been a long road back so it will be interesting to see if the team tries to get him going over the final two weeks or if they simply utilize him as a part-time player, but if he’s hitting he’s going to earn a postseason role.  Keep a close eye, as he could be a difference maker assuming there aren’t a lot of southpaws on the schedule.


2) Daniel Mengden tosses a complete game gem against the Phillies…
He allowed just 2 H and 0 BB, striking out 7, in what was a gem in every sense.  He generated 20 swinging strikes and was a groundball machine (15 groundballs vs. 5 fly balls).  The big key is the groundball rate, something he had shown prior to reaching the Majors last season (49.0% at Triple-A).  He owns a minor league career 9.0 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9, so there is every chance that he takes this performance and carries it over the final two weeks (he’s now allowed 2 ER over 15.0 IP in two starts since returning to the Majors).  In what has been a lost season, in part due to injury, Mengden could surprise and finally live up to the potential.  Don’t overlook him as he’s someone who should definitely get starts down the stretch.


3) Alcides Escobar helps to stop the Indians winning streak…
We knew it would come to an end sooner or later, and yesterday was the day as the Royals won 4-3.  Escobar, who has been red hot at the plate, was one of the keys as he went 1-4 with 1 HR, 1 RBI and 1 R and is now hitting .457 with 1 HR, 6 RBI and 9 R in September (while adding 6 doubles and 1 triple).  While he makes plenty of contact he continues to show a poor approach though (he entered with a 41.9% O-Swing% in September) and that’s going to keep him hitting more towards the bottom of the order (he was hitting seventh yesterday).  That means fewer runs scored and since he’s not running (4-for-10 in SB on the season) and doesn’t pack much power (5 HR) there simply isn’t much value.  The hits will stop and there simply isn’t enough to make him worth considering.


4) Another strong showing from Carson Fulmer…
While the Tigers’ Anibal Sanchez had the more eye-popping night (6.0 IP, 1 ER, 6 H, 1 BB, 11 K), it is Fulmer whose performance is more important.  Going 6.0 innings he allowed 1 ER on 4 H and 1 BB, striking out 5, while he settled for a no decision.  He’s now allowed 2 ER over 12.0 IP over his past two starts, though he continues to struggle generating groundballs (5 groundball vs. 8 fly balls, after entering the day with a 15.2% groundball rate) and the control is questionable at best (he had a 4.64 BB/9 at Triple-A prior to his recall).  There’s a lot of upside, but there’s too much risk to trust him.


5) The emergence of Zack Cozart continues…
Injury appears to be the only thing that’s stopping him at this point, as he went 2-5 with 2 HR, 2 RBI and 2 R yesterday and is now hitting .302 with 22 HR, 60 RBI and 74 R over 398 AB.  He’s shown tremendous plate discipline all season long, with 67 K vs. 58 BB (he entered the day with an impressive 5.6% SwStr% and 23.7% O-Swing%), and there’s nothing unrealistic with his power (14.3% HR/FB entering the day).  So the average appears real (despite a 19.4% line drive rate) as does the power…  If he could only stay healthy for a full season the numbers could be really impressive (as it is they are hard to argue).


6) Sean Newcomb dominates the New York Mets…
He went 5.1 innings allowing 2 R on 6 H and 1 BB, striking out 8, to earn the W.  Of course the Mets’ lineup is hardly impressive these days, especially with Ahmed Rosario sidelined yesterday as well, but it was still an impressive outing as he generated swings and misses (15) and groundballs (6 groundballs vs. 2 fly balls).  He’s not an elite groundball artist (43.0% entering the day), but the biggest question is always going to be his control (5.15 BB/9 at Triple-A, 5.34 BB/9 prior to last night in the Majors).  If he’s throwing strikes the upside is there, but that unfortunately is impossible to depend on.


7) The emergence of Domingo Santana continued…
The Brewers scored 10 runs, including a grand slam from Neil Walker (2-4, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 1 R), but it’s Santana’s performance that continues to grab our attention.  After being scratched from the lineup on Wednesday he returned with a bang, going 1-5 with 1 HR, 3 RBI and 1 R and now is hitting .275 with 25 HR and 13 SB on the season.  He does continue to struggle with swings and misses (he entered the day with a 13.3% SwStr% and 29.0% strikeout rate), and that’s something that’s going to continue to help to limit him.  There’s a good chance that he’s closer to a .255-.260 hitter (.363 BABIP), but with the power and speed  that would be enough.


8) C.J. Cron delivers a long ball…
He finished 1-4 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 1 R, though of course that snaps a 7-game homerless and RBI-less streak.  While Cron has been getting regular AB and has shown some power (15 HR on the season), his approach has not been one of his positives as he entered with a career worst 12.8% SwStr% and a poor 37.7% O-Swing%.  Interestingly the strikeout rate hasn’t been poor (24.5% strikeout rate) and it hasn’t stopped him from hitting the ball hard (23.6% line drive rate).  He’s not an elite option by any stretch, but there is potential value if power is your goal.


9) Robbie Ray continues his strikeout display…
He allowed 2 R (1 earned) on 6 H and 0 BB over 7.0 innings against the Giants, but the biggest story was his 10 K.  He’s now struck out 10+ batters in four straight starts (9+ in each of his five starts since returning from the DL).  Of course he was also generating groundballs (7 groundballs vs. 4 fly balls) and he also has been avoiding walks (6 BB over these five starts).  That is the makeup of an absolute monster and one of a potentially Top 5 starting pitcher.


10) Carlos Martinez lays an egg at an inopportune time…
After looking dominant early on, the wheels fell off as Martinez ultimately allowed 7 ER on 6 H and 3 BB, striking out 5, over 5.1 IP.  It was a disappointing performance, especially after getting the first 10 batters, but at the end of the day Martinez is still one of the dominant starters in the league and he still had 10 swinging strikes and a good groundball rate (7 groundballs vs. 3 fly balls).  It’s disappointing, but look for him to bounce back strong.


Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs, Baseball Reference


  1. Bbboston says:


    As of today, what’s the likelihood that Mendosi is the Royasls SS nest year? THANKS!

  2. Mitch says:

    Has Ray emerged as a top 20 starter for 2018?

  3. Rotoprofessor says:

    Bbboston – I would put it under 50%

    Mitch – He’s right on the cusp

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