10 Important Stories From 04/14/2018 Box Scores: Should You Give Up On Quintana Or Archer, Selling High On Taillon & More

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

It was another dominant outing from Max Scherzer, who allowed 2 ER on 1 H and 1 BB, striking out 11, over 7.0 innings against the Rockies.  Ozzie Albies extended his streak of multi-hit games to four, going 3-5 with 1 HR, 4 RBI and 2 R (finishing a triple shy of a cycle).  Jakob Junis struggled to keep the ball in the ballpark (4 ER, courtesy of 3 HR, over 4.2 IP) against the Angels, which may be just the beginning of his regression.  What else happened on the field that we need to know about?  Let’s take a look:

 

1) Alex Cobb struggles in his ’18 debut…
We’ve been skeptical since he signed with the Orioles and while he likely isn’t going to be this bad it was certainly an inauspicious debut against the Red Sox.  Cobb lasted just 3.2 innings allowing 8 R (7 earned) on 10 H and 1 BB, failing to record a strikeout.  Hanley Ramirez (2-5, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 2 R) and J.D. Martinez (3-5, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 R) each took him deep, while Andrew Benintendi also enjoyed a big day (2-5, 3 RBI, 2 R).  The 3 swinging strikes alone would be a major red flag, and his groundball rate has been trending in the wrong direction (47.8% in ’17, 5 groundballs vs. 6 fly balls yesterday).  It’s just one start, but pitching in a hitter friendly ballpark he’s a hands off option.

 

2) A dominant performance from Miles Mikolas…
Taking on the Reds he needed just 83 pitches to get through 7.0 innings, allowing 1 ER on 4 H and 2 BB, striking out 4.  He unfortunately wasn’t generating many swings and misses (6 swinging strikes) or generating a significant number of groundballs (8 groundballs vs. 9 fly balls) so there is obvious reason for skepticism.  At the same time the control has been impressive (these were his first two walks) and he entered the day with a 53.7% groundball rate.  As we’ve discussed before (click here to view) there’s an awful lot to like and reason to believe that he will continue being a productive starter.  The underlying metrics from this one start don’t necessarily shine, but they are there and we continue to recommend buying if you can.

 

3) Is it time to give up on Jose Quintana…
He gotten beaten up for the second time in three starts, allowing 7 ER on 7 H and 4 BB, striking out 1, over 2.1 IP (though he didn’t take an L, as the Cubs stormed back in a wild 14-10 game).  He’s struggled with his control (10 BB over 14.1 IP) and he has 2 K or fewer in two of his three starts.  He entered the day with a 7.7% SwStr% and managed just 4 swinging strikes yesterday, backing up our preseason concern that he wouldn’t be able to maintain his elevated strikeout rate (9.87 K/9 in ’17).  We’d expect better control than he’s shown thus far and he’s generally avoided the long ball (0.84 HR/9 for his career).  The question has always centered around the strikeouts, and with the questionable upside his value will always be capped.  He’s not this bad, but he always seemed destined to disappoint.

 

4) Welcome back Yuli Gurriel…
While the performance of Charlie Morton (6.0 IP, 2 ER, 6 H, 1 BB, 12 K) will get the bulk of the attention, we shouldn’t overlook the big day of Gurriel.  After going 1-4 in his return on Friday he truly made his presence felt yesterday as he went 2-5 with 1 HR, 3 RBI and 1 R.  Last year he showed an ability to make consistent contact, helping him to a .299 AVG, but 18 HR at a power position wasn’t going to cut it.  With 43 doubles and only 8 HR at home there was upside, and while no one is going to draw a definitive conclusion off one day it’s definitely a good sign.

 

5) Is it time to push the panic button on Chris Archer…
The Phillies touched him up for 7 ER on 8 H and 2 BB over 4.0 IP, while he struck out just 2.  While he had been getting strikeouts prior to this one, the poor start continues some rather troubling trends:

  • He’s allowed 1 HR in each of his four starts
  • He’s allowed 4+ R (3 earned) in each of his four starts (4+ ER in three of four)
  • He hasn’t shown tremendous control, with 9 BB over 20.2 IP

He entered the day with a 64.2% strand rate and .357 BABIP, and while the number is still elevated his 22.2% line drive rate should yield better results (and he could improve upon an 18.8% HR/FB).  We all know he’s better than this, so making a rash decision wouldn’t be prudent.  Of course putting up a 7.54 ERA in September of ’17, coupled with these struggles, adds to the concern.  For now stay the course, but he deserves an even closer look.

 

6) Matt Harvey posts another mediocre start…
Taking on the Brewers he allowed 4 ER on 8 H and 1 BB, striking out 6, over 5.0 IP.  While Milwaukee has a powerful lineup, the home runs he gave up were to Jonathan Villar (1-4, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 R) and Jett Bandy (2-4, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R).  Harvey’s control hasn’t been bad this season, with 3 BB over 15.0 IP, but he’s now allowed 17 H and 8 ER over his past 10.0 IP (among the hits are 3 HR).  We all knew that there might be some growing pains along the way, but pitching for a contract you’d have hoped Harvey would’ve gotten off to a stronger start.  In deeper formats it makes sense to keep him stashed, but for most he can’t be trusted in your starting lineup until he starts to show a little bit more.

 

7) Is Jameson Taillon developing into an ace before our eyes…
Following up his one-hit shutout of the Reds, Taillon spun 6.0 shutout innings against the Marlins allowing 4 H and 3 BB, striking out 2.  Of course we have to keep the matchups in mind, as they aren’t the scariest offenses in the league, but 15.0 straight shutout innings are what they are (though we’d still like to see him do it against tougher competition).  On the season (20.1 IP) he owns a 0.89 ERA and 0.69 WHIP, and while he’s shown control (2.21 BB/9) and groundballs (58.8%), he’s not getting many swinging strikes (7.7% SwStr%) and has benefited from significant luck (95.6% strand rate, .160 BABIP).  No one is going to say that he isn’t a strong option, but there’s a regression coming (and likely a big one).  No may actually be the ideal time to sell high, because his value may never be higher.

 

8) What to make of Garrett Richards…
Sure he allowed 1 ER on 1 H, striking out 5, over 5.0 IP to defeat the Royals, but he also walked 3 batters in the process.  He’s now walked at least 3 batters in each of his four starts, with 15 BB over 20.0 IP, and sooner or later a 6.75 BB/9 will catch up with him.  Of course we also have to give him time to rediscover himself, as injuries have cost him the bulk of the past two seasons (12 starts in the Majors between 2016 and 2017).  He is generating a significant number of groundballs (56.3%) and getting swings and misses (11.5% SwStr%), so if he can find his control he’s going to be a Top 25 fantasy starter.  It should come so be patient.

 

9) A.J. Pollock powers up from the cleanup spot…
Pollock isn’t your prototypical #4 hitter, though he looked the part yesterday going 2-4 with 2 HR, 3 RBI and 2 R.  He’s now hitting .294 with 3 HR, 12 RBI, 9 R and 4 SB over 51 AB, as he’s hitting the ball exceptionally hard (28.9% line drive rate).  Obviously moving from the leadoff spot could cause him to see a decline in runs scored (at least in the short term, with Jake Lamb on the DL giving the lineup a little weaker of an outlook) and you have to wonder how many opportunities he’s going to get to run (despite the 4 SB thus far, though 20 SB is realistic).  Of course there’s more RBI potential, hitting behind Paul Goldschmidt, so it’s a give and take.  With health having always been the biggest question, as long as he’s on the field he’s got Top 15 upside.

 

10) Can Dan Vogelbach earn himself regular playing time…
The Mariners hit four home runs against the A’s, and while the big shots from Jean Segura (2-5, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 R), Kyle Seager (3-4, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 R) and Mitch Haniger (2-5, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 R) are notable, it’s Vogelbach’s that may be the most important.  He finished the day going 2-4 with 1 HR, 1 RBI and 2 R, giving him home runs in back-to-back games.  Of course, while no one was ever going to question his power potential, he owns a 38.2% strikeout rate and 2.9% walk rate over 34 PA…  However before we write him off based on those, his 10.7% SwStr% and 21.7% O-Swing% don’t back up the poor marks, and he could really establish himself with Ryon Healy on the sideline.

Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs

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6 comments

  1. Bbboston says:

    Rotoprofessor:

    Followed your advice on profar and it seems to be working out…..

    What’s your thoughts on his performance since your article?

    Bbboston

    Ps: thanks again for the excellent product you put out daily and consistently! Best in the web!

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      First, thanks the support! It is truly, truly appreciated.

      Nothing has changed for me with Profar, I still see the 15/10 type upside with locked in AB for the next few weeks. No reason to deviate now!

  2. Trevor says:

    Please help!
    Have Alfaro at c and Martin, Barnhart, hedges, Barnes and weiters out there. Any of them an upgrade?
    Same thing with mi. I have Travis and marte profar, panik and escobar out there.
    Thank you as always.

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      I’d say Martin and Barnhart are both upgrades actually for the catcher spot. I’d go Martin first, but make a move.

      As for the MI I’ve lost faith in Travis. I’d go Escobar in short term but keep a close eye on Profar

  3. Tuco says:

    What kind of upside do you see for Vogelbach and Gurriel?

    As a util option how would you rank Mancini, Profar, Vogelbach, Gurriel?

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      Mancini / Gurriel / Profar / Vogelbach but I would argue Profar could have the highest upside (or just behind Mancini)

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