10 Important Stories From 05/20/18 Box Scores: Sell High Starters (Odorizzi, R. Lopez), Others Turning The Corner (Gray, Darvish), Flaherty Dazzles & More

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

It was another big day for J.D. Martinez, going 2-4 with 2 HR, 3 RBI and 2 R.  Josh Harrison came off the DL to immediately hit atop the Pirates order, going 3-4 with 1 RBI.  Jesus Aguilar continued his torrid stretch, homering for the third straight game (4 HR over this streak).  What else happened on the field that we need to know about?  Let’s take a look:


1) Dustin Fowler moves to the top of the order…
This is the first time he’s been bumped up from the bottom third of the order (he had been hitting seventh, eighth or ninth), and the A’s decided to push him all the way to the top spot.  He went 1-4 with 2 RBI and 1 R (though he was also caught stealing).  Obviously Fowler has struggled initially, hitting .207, though he’s shown a solid approach (4 K vs. 4 BB) including a 3.6% SwStr% and 26.2% O-Swing%.  Whether or not he can continue drawing that many walks remains to be seen (3.8% at Triple-A prior to his recall), but there’s enough power and speed that if he’s going to stick at the top of the order he’s going to make a definitive impact.  Consider him well worth buying in all formats.


2) Did Yu Darvish’s time on the DL allow him to figure things out…
It was tough to tell if his first start back was indicative of what was to come, as he threw just 61 pitches over 4.0 IP.  The reigns came off this time, though, and he delivered against the Reds as he allowed 1 ER on 2 H and 3 BB, striking out 7, over 6.0 IP.  He had 17 swinging strikes yesterday, giving him 27 in 10.0 IP since coming off the DL.  Before we get too excited let’s keep in mind:

  • His control continues to be an issue (5 BB in 10.0 IP)
  • Home runs continue to be a risk (he kept the ball in the ballpark yesterday, but had 3 groundballs vs. 8 fly balls)

It would be easy to buy into the results, and maybe he has turned the corner, but as of today we wouldn’t be banking on it.


3) Amed Rosario flashes some unexpected power…
He went 2-3 with 2 HR, 2 RBI and 2 R yesterday, his first home runs of the season.  Considering his 8 doubles and 1 triple, as well as 11 HR between Triple-A and the Majors last season, it’s obviously not something we should expect him to continue.  The bigger question is if he can figure out his batting average, as he’s now hitting just .238 with 14 RBI, 16 R and 1 SB.  It hasn’t been bad luck, with a .310 BABIP courtesy of a 30.4% Hard%, but instead an awful approach at the plate (13.8% SwStr%, 40.3% O-Swing%).  Those numbers are similar to what he showed in the Majors last season so, like with the power, it’s impossible to expect some sudden growth coming.  Throw in being relegated to the bottom of the order and while it was a nice day he can easily continue to be ignored.


4) The bad Julio Teheran appears to have returned…
Just when we wanted to believe that Teheran had figured something out he has a relatively poor game against the Cubs (4 ER on 4 H and 3 BB over 6.0 IP).  If you had been willing to give him a free pass on that one, you aren’t going to be any longer after he allowed 6 ER on 7 H and 3 BB, striking out 4, over 5.0 IP against the Marlins yesterday.  He allowed 1 HR yesterday and has now allowed 3 HR over his past two starts, with 6 BB vs. 5 K over 11.0 IP in his past two outings.  Those two things have been the big questions for two years running (he entered the day with a 3.86 BB/9 and 1.47 HR/9), and considering his 83.3% strand rate and .224 BABIP seeing the regression should not come as a surprise.  While he had some good showings against some weaker offenses, this one is a reality check.  Teheran is the same underwhelming option and isn’t a player to trust.


5) Jordan Lyles takes a big step backwards against the Pirates…
There had been a lot of buzz regarding Lyles, who had allowed 1 ER on 6 H and 2 BB, striking out 16, over 12.1 IP in his first two starts.  Of course both of those had come at home, and in his first road start of the year he got tagged for 4 ER on 7 H and 2 BB, striking out 4, over 5.2 IP.  The biggest issue were 2 HR allowed, and considering his career 1.11 HR/9 and 41.5% groundball rate entering the day (4 groundballs vs. 9 fly balls yesterday) it shouldn’t have come as a surprise.  Obviously the strikeouts have nothing to do with the locale, though a 10 K performance helped to skew the numbers at least a little bit.  The owner of a career 6.29 K/9, Lyles is more of a streaming option when starting at home as opposed to a player to trust.


6) A dominant performance from Reynaldo Lopez…
Taking on the Rangers he tossed 8.0 shutout innings allowing 2 H and 2 BB, striking out 8.  He now owns an impressive 2.98 ERA and 1.16 WHIP over nine starts (54.1 IP).  That all seems rosy, and while it was an outstanding performance let’s look at the key metrics entering the day:

  • Strikeouts – 6.02 K/9
  • Control – 4.08 BB/9
  • Groundballs – 30.8%

A 9.0% SwStr% doesn’t offer much upside, he’s struggled with home runs (1.36 HR/9) and a .228 BABIP is going to regress.  In other words now may be the perfect time to sell high, because the numbers could soon take a significant tumble.


7) Sonny Gray suddenly turns things around…
Of course we have to keep in mind that it came against the Royals, so we have to take it with at least a little bit of a grain of salt.  Still Gray allowing just 1 R on 4 H and 1 BB, striking out 5, over 8.0 IP.  While the strikeouts (with 9 swinging strikes) weren’t impressive, the key takeaways are his turn around in both his control (5.68 BB/9 entering the day) and groundballs (44.1% entering the day, 12 groundballs vs. 7 fly balls yesterday).  Considering his career marks of 3.07 and 53.3%, it’s fair to wonder if this is the sign of things to come.  We all know he’s better than he’s shown thus far, and if it’s not too late it’s worth trying to kick the tires and try to buy low on him.


8) A dazzling performance from Jack Flaherty…
Taking on the Phillies he allowed 1 R on 2 H and 1 BB, striking out 13, over 7.2 IP.  He made one mistake (a home run to Rhys Hoskins) and generated a highly impressive 24 swinging strikes on the day.  Considering his 15.3% SwStr% over his five Triple-A starts (31.2 IP) it’s impossible to call the performance a complete aberration, though his 10.6% mark across Double and Triple-A last season is likely far more believable.  He also has generally not been an elite groundball pitcher, so it’s possible that home runs plague him at the highest level.  He does have strong control and there’s a lot to like, but just keep in mind that he’s not likely to come even close to the strikeout rate he posted yesterday.


9) Is Francisco Liriano for real…
He dominated the Mariners, before the bullpen cost him a W, as he tossed 8.0 shutout innings allowing 1 H and 3 BB, striking out 5.  Of course he wasn’t generating swinging strikes (7) and he wasn’t generating groundballs (7 groundballs vs. 11 fly balls), and he also has a history of control issues (4.63 BB/9 entering the day).  He’s struggled to generate strikeouts all season long (6.45 K/9 entering the day) and he’s benefited from a lot of luck (.240 BABIP).  Does any of that sound promising moving forward?  He’s been a nice story over the first month and a half, but he’s hardly a pitcher you want to invest heavily in.


10) Despite a dominant performance, Jake Odorizzi settles for a no decision…
He made one mistake (a solo home run to Jesus Aguilar), as he allowed 1 ER on 5 H and 2 BB, striking out 10, over 5.2 IP.  It’s tough to get overly excited, however, as the home run highlights what has been one of his biggest issues thus far (1.66 HR/9 entering the day, 1.31 for his career).  He also has lacked excellent control (3.91 BB/9) and while he owns a 3.17 ERA and 1.26 WHIP he also entered the day benefiting from a .246 BABIP (20.8% line drive rate) and 85.0% strand rate.  In other words none of the numbers are sustainable and his value may never be higher than it is today.  He’s well worth shopping, just to see if you can actually cash in.

Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs

Missed our Top 100 prospect rankings?  Make sure to check it out by clicking here.  


  1. Bennies Express says:

    Hey Prof,

    I tried acquiring Villar and my offer was countered, he offered Villar for Pillar, I don’t really believe in either to be great but would you take that trade? I just keep thinking of Villars 62 steals in 2016.

    Also would you drop Gibson for Gohara?

    Thanks in advance, always appreciate the advice!

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      It reallydepends on your need. If you are looking to take a flier on SB, then yea why not go for Villar. Pillar is easily replaceable.

      As far as Gohara goes, it depends on format. Long-term Gohara has the higher upside but for this year I think Gibson will outperform him

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