10 Important Stories From 10/01/17 Box Scores: Snell Dominates, Gonzalez Stumbles & More

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

With many teams putting up their B or C lineups, the biggest stories came from the mound yesterday (as we’d expect on the final day of the season).  There were a few hitters who had some noteworthy days, but for the most part the spotlight belongs on the Blake Snell’s and James Paxton’s, who stole the show.  Let’s take a look at their performances and all the rest from yesterday’s action:

 

1) A dominant Blake Snell steals the night…
He faced off against a lifeless Orioles team, tossing 7.0 shutout innings allowing 2 H and 0 BB.  That wasn’t the most impressive number, though, as he racked up 13 K thanks to 24 swinging strikes.  No one has ever questioned his strikeout stuff, the problem has always been his control.  Obviously this type of performance has been the exception, not the rule, as he posted a 5.16 BB/9 in 89.0 IP in the Majors last season and a 4.34 BB/9 over 122.1 IP entering the day.  The upside is there, and while replicating this performance is going to be nearly impossible it does go to show the type of upside that he has.
2) Jordan Montgomery finishes strong…
Taking on the Blue Jays he allowed 1 ER on 2 H and 1 BB, striking out 3, over 5.1 IP though he ultimately settled for a no decision.  You could argue that he deserved a bigger role, as opposed to being bumped from the rotation, but he made his mark and should be locked into the rotation come ’18.  He finished with 155.1 IP in the Majors, pitching to a 3.88 ERA and 1.23 WHIP.  He entered the day with an 8.46 K/9 (courtesy of a 12.3% SwStr%) and 3.00 BB/9, and he also showed enough groundball potential in the first half (43.1%).  While he may never be an ace, pitching in the AL East, he’s going to hold value.

 

3) Is Daniel Mengden an ace in the making…
He certainly pitched as such in September, and he put a nice cap on it yesterday tossing 7.0 shutout innings allowing 4 H and 1 BB, striking out 8, against the Texas Rangers.  Since returning on September 9 he allowed 6 ER on 23 H and 6 BB, striking out 26, over 35.0 IP including three scoreless appearances.  While he’s not likely quite that good, he’s shown solid strikeout rates and control (he entered the day with a 7.67 K/9 and 3.42 BB/9 over 109.0 IP in the Majors, with even more upside than that).  He also has the potential to generate enough groundballs, especially pitching half his games in Oakland.  He may not be an ace, but he should be a solid mid-level option.

 

4) Gio Gonzalez stumbles to the finish…
At the end of the day no one is going to complain about a 2.96 ERA and 1.18 WHIP, but it was a lackluster finish to the season (though that shouldn’t be a surprise).  He allowed 6 ER on 7 H and 3 BB, striking out 2, over 4.1 IP yesterday and finished allowing 5 ER or more in three of his last six starts.  He entered the day with an 83.5% strand rate and .252 BABIP, so while it was a solid season overall there’s little chance that he replicates it.  We will dig in a lot deeper over the offseason, but don’t make the mistake of paying for this year’s success.

 

5) Nick Williams finishes with a bang…
Taking on the Mets he went 2-4 with 1 HR, 3 RBI and 2 R, ending his rookie year hitting .288 with 12 HR and 55 RBI over 313 AB.  Of course he also entered the day with a 28.4% strikeout rate, courtesy of some awful plate discipline (18.8% SwStr%, 44.5% O-Swing%) and a fly ball rate that may not be able to maintain this type of power (27.2%).  There’s clearly a lot of upside, but he also needs to make some adjustments before the league adjusts to him.  Time will tell if he’s able to or not, but be cautious before investing too heavily in him for 2018.

 

6) There’s no questioning James Paxton’s upside…
He simply needs to stay healthy and he could be a Top 10 starting pitcher.  He showed off his talent yesterday against the Angels, tossing 6.0 shutout innings allowing 3 H and 0 BB, striking out 9.  He was limited to 136.0 innings this season, but racked up 156 K vs. 37 BB while posting a 2.98 ERA and 1.10 WHIP.  Throw in a 45.0% groundball rate entering the day, as well as believable metrics (75.0% strand rate, .301 BABIP) and what exactly is there not to like?  There’s a good chance that he can be had at a bit of a discount, thanks to the injury history, but the upside remains and he’s a must own heading into next season.

 

7) Kevin Gausman pitches well in defeat…
He unfortunately squared off with Blake Snell, but that shouldn’t detract from the performance.  He went 7.0 innings allowing 1 R on 6 H and 0 BB, striking out 9, giving him a strong finish after struggling in his previous outing (6 ER over 4.0 IP).  He certainly turned his season around, after posting a disappointing 5.85 ERA in the first half in part due to a .371 BABIP.  He showed better strikeout stuff (9.47 K/9 entering the day) and control (3.05 BB/9) in the second half, and it gives us a reminder of what the upside is.  He should remain a solid option moving forward.

 

8) A lackluster outing for Jack Flaherty…
It was supposed to be Carlos Martinez taking the ball, but St. Louis ultimately scratched him with nothing on the line.  Flaherty instead got the ball and struggled, allowing 4 R on 5 H and 2 BB, striking out 5, over 5.0 IP.  He never really showed much in the Majors this season, with a 6.33 ERA and 1.55 WHIP, and while there is more upside than that we have to remember that he didn’t show much in the way of groundballs at Double or Triple-A this season (40.0% and 41.0%) and he also benefited from some luck (strand rates of 87.0% and 85.5%).  There’s definitely appeal and upside, and he’ll be worth the flier if he’s locked into a rotation spot, but don’t assume that he’ll be an immediate ace.

 

9) Khris Davis continues to emerge as one of the premier power hitters…
He went 2-4 with 1 HR, 1 RBI and 1 R, giving him 43 HR and 110 RBI on the season.  Despite playing in a less than stellar home ballpark, Davis has now hit 85 HR over the past two seasons while driving in 212 runs.  Sure the average is never going to be tremendous, but when you are hitting this many home runs that’s something you can overlook a little bit easier.  If he could ever cut the strikeout down even into the 25% range (he entered the day at 29.9%) he could be a .265 hitter to go along with his immense power.  That would make him one of the elite, but even as is he’ll remain a must own option.

 

10) Collin McHugh ends the year on a high note…
His numbers weren’t quite as impressive as some others, but taking on Boston he allowed 3 ER on 5 H and 1 BB, striking out 8, over 6.0 IP.  He finishes the year with a 3.55 ERA and 1.29 WHIP, with 62 K vs. 20 BB over 63.1 IP.  The big question comes from his groundball rate, as he entered the day with a 32.5% groundball rate.  He’s shown better than that before (41.7% for his career), and he’s again proven that he can post strong strikeout and walk rates.  There’s a lot to like here.

 

Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs

2 comments

  1. foolintherain says:

    RP: Finally won my first title in my far-too-serious keeper league. Really appreciate the help, particularly down the stretch. Don’t worry; I’ve already paid for next year’s draft guide.

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