10 Important Stories From 09/30/17 Box Scores: McCullers’ Poor Showing, Taillon Looks Like An Ace & More

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

Aaron Judge put what could be his final touch on a likely Rookie of the Year campaign, going 1-3 with 1 HR, 1 RBI and 1 R (giving him 52 HR and 114 RBI).  Matt Cain finished his career on a strong note, despite taking a no decision, as he tossed 5.0 shutout innings allowing 2 H and 1 BB, striking out 4, over 5.0 IP against the Padres.  Clayton Kershaw’s final tune up was unimpressive, allowing 3 ER on 7 H over 4.0 IP in Colorado.  What else happened on the field that we need to know about?  Let’s take a look:

 

1) Lance McCullers struggles in his final start…
Taking on the Red Sox, in Boston, he allowed 5 ER on 6 H and 2 BB, striking out 6, over 4.1 IP.  While it’s easy to see the upside potential, 2017 has to be considered a disappointment for McCulllers as he’s battled injury and ended the season with a 4.25 ERA and 1.30 WHIP.  Of course he also entered the day with a 61.6% groundball rate, 9.92 K/9 and 2.99 BB/9 over 114.1 IP, showing that he has the potential to be a fantasy ace if it all comes together.  A .325 BABIP and 69.3% strand rate dragged down the numbers, and given the injuries it’s possible that he gets viewed as a bullpen arm.  Time will tell, but at this point view him as a potential James Paxton type breakout candidate come 2018.

 

2) No one is going to argue the power of Kyle Schwarber…
He went 2-4 with 1 HR, 4 RBI and 1 R yesterday, giving him 30 HR and 69 RBI in 421 AB on the season.  Besides where he ultimately fits defensively, the other issue is his .211 average and the problems are two-fold.  First is the obvious, as he entered the day with a 31.0% strikeout rate courtesy of a 12.3% SwStr%.  The other is that he appears to be swinging for the fences a bit, with a 15.5% line drive rate, 46.4% fly ball rate and 16.3% popup rate.  Elevated strikeouts and popups, especially for a player with little speed, is going to mean little upside in his average.  If you need power there’s value, but you need to be cautious outside of that.

 

3) Luke Weaver ends on a bad note…
Taking on the Brewers he allowed 6 ER on 9 H and 4 BB, striking out 4, over 4.2 IP with the big blow coming courtesy of Domingo Santana (3-5, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 R).  It was back-to-back poor showings, allowing 14 ER over 7.2 IP, nearly wiping out all of the good that he had shown prior to this (his ERA ballooned from 2.05 to 3.88).  The problem was a sudden home run binge (3 HR allowed in these two starts), though he entered yesterday showing an ability to generate groundballs (51.8%, though that could regress a little bit given his 44.4% mark at Triple-A).  Couple that with strikeouts and control and there’s obviously still reason to believe.  Don’t let two poor starts change that.

 

4) An ace-like performance for Jameson Taillon…
Obviously the Nationals were resting some of their starters, as many teams are these days, but it was still an impressive showing for Taillon who allowed 1 ER on 4 H and 1 BB, striking out 5, over 7.0 IP.  There was a bit of luck, as he didn’t allow a home run despite generating 5 groundballs vs. 11 fly balls on the day.  Of course that also hasn’t been the story of his season/career, entering the day with a 47.9% groundball rate (49.9% in 230.2 IP in the Majors).  Couple that with solid strikeouts (8.53 K/9) and control (3.20 BB/9), and it’s easy to get excited over his long-term appeal.  Don’t let his 4.44 ERA distract you from the actual upside.

 

5) Maikel Franco trying to earn ’18 starting role…
He went 1-5 with 1 HR, 1 RBI and 1 R yesterday, giving him home runs in three of his last four games.  While he does have 23 HR on the season, he’s also hit just .230 and it’s not due to contact issues in the least (15.0% strikeout rate entering the day).  It’s obvious that a .237 BABIP is the issue, and while we’d expect a better mark his 18.2% line drive rate and 16.0% popup rate (compared to marks of 20.0% and 17.1% in ’16) doesn’t offer much potential.  As is you can argue that he’s more of a .250ish hitter, and nothing more, and there’s the chance that he loses significant playing time next season.  He’ll be a post-hype flier, but not a player to depend on.

 

6) Is Carson Fulmer backing up the hype…
He defeated the Indians in his final start of ’17, allowing 1 ER on 3 H and 2 BB, striking out 2, over 5.0 IP.  In 23.1 IP in the Majors he posted a 3.86 ERA and 1.24 WHIP, though 19 K vs. 13 BB isn’t an inspiring ratio.  He struggled in both categories at Triple-A prior to his recall, with a 6.86 K/9 and 4.64 BB/9, and his 9.3% SwStr% and 26.7% O-Swing% entering the day (6 swinging strikes yesterday) doesn’t offer much hope for a breakout.  There’s talent and there’s going to be hype, but he’s a backend option at best.

 

7) A disappointing finish for Lucas Sims…
Taking on the Marlins he allowed 6 R on 7 H and 4 BB, striking out 1, over 2.0 IP against the Marlins.  The youngster entered the Majors carrying the risk of home runs (34.2% groundball rate at Triple-A), but he’s also struggled to generate many swings and misses against MLB hitters (he entered the day with an 8.4% SwStr% and 28.4% O-Swing%).  Maybe he figures it out with more experience, but for now he’s going to be a hands off proposition until he proves otherwise.

 

8) Is there any value in Jake Junis moving forward…
He ended on a high note, allowing 2 R on 5 H and 2 BB, striking out 5, over 6.0 IP against the Diamondbacks to finish with a 4.30 ERA and 1.28 WHIP over 98.1 IP in the Majors.  He didn’t show much in the strikeout department in the Majors, with a 7.32 K/9 courtesy of an 8.9% SwStr%.  While he showed more at Triple-A this season (10.90 K/9), that was a bit of an aberration (8.85 K/9 at Double-A in ’16).  Throw in only pedestrian groundball rates and there isn’t a significant amount of upside.  He would appear to be more of a backend option/streamer depending on the situation and matchup but it’s hard to envision him ultimately becoming much more than that.

 

9) Marcus Semien is finally finding his power stroke…
There was a lot of upside entering the season, but his early season injury zapped a lot of the hype and potential.  He finally appears to have it all behind him, of course maybe too little too late, though it again gives us the same type of hope heading into ’18.  He went 2-5 with 1 HR, 1 RBI and 1 R yesterday giving him 4 HR in his past 10 games.  He’s still struggling with his average, hitting .249, and that could be the type of player that he is.  Bringing both power and speed (10 HR/12 SB) a .250 hitter is more than enough, and look for him to be a buy low option heading into next season.

 

10) Mitch Haniger continues making up for lost time…
He went 5-5 with 1 R yesterday (including 3 doubles) and is hitting .365 with 7 HR (as well as 8 doubles and 1 triple), 14 RBI and 17 R in September.  Injuries have dragged down the overall numbers, but he’s still hitting .285 with 16 HR over 365 AB this season.  If you project that out over a full 550+ AB you get the exact player we were expecting with nothing unrealistic behind it (.331 BABIP, 16.0% HR/FB).  While it’s hard to imagine much of a post-hype sleeper heading into ’18, if his value drops at all due to the face value numbers there is going to be appeal.

Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs

One comment

  1. Logan says:

    One of the most sad days of the year as fantasy baseball comes to an end for 2017.

    Just wanted to say thank you for another for another great season of analysis and information!

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