10 Important Stories From 05/26/18 Box Scores: Hitters Worth Buying (Ozuna, Profar), Veterans To Give Up On (Quintana) & More

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

While Aaron Nola ultimately took a no decision, that doesn’t take away from a highly impressive performance against Toronto as he allowed 1 ER on 1 H and 3 BB, striking out 10, over 6.2 IP.  Tim Anderson put on a power show, going 2-4 with 2 HR, 4 RBI and 3 R (he now has 3 HR and 6 RBI over his past two games).  In what should’ve been the pitching matchup of the night, both Lance McCullers (4.1 IP, 7 ER, 6 H, 2 BB, 2 K) and Carlos Carrasco (5.2 IP, 5 ER, 7 H, 2 BB, 8 K, W) struggled.  What else happened on the field that we need to know about?  Let’s take a look:

 

1) Sean Newcomb’s control betrays him once again…
It was an ugly outing, albeit against the Red Sox, as he allowed 3 ER on 6 H and 4 BB, striking out 4, over 3.0 IP (he needed 88 pitches to get through the three innings).  Control has always been the biggest questions facing Newcomb, and he’s now walked 4 batters in two of his past three starts (13 BB over last 21.0 IP).  As it is he entered the day with a 4.10 BB/9, and he also had benefited from a .256 BABIP and 0.51 HR/9 (despite a solid, but unspectacular, 48.9% groundball rate).  He does bring strikeouts (9.91 K/9), but is that enough considering the risk in the either metrics?  Last year he posted a 4.32 ERA over 100.0 IP and there’s a good chance he regresses to potentially that type of number once again.

 

2) A spectacular performance from Daniel Mengden…
Taking on the Diamondbacks he tossed a complete game shutout, allowing 2 H and 0 BB while striking out 5.  No one is going to argue the potentially elite control, but he’s lacked both strikeouts (5.97 K/9 entering the day, 9 swinging strikes yesterday) and he also isn’t an elite groundball pitcher (38.6% entering the day, 39.1% for his career).  Sure pitching half of his games in Oakland is going to help to offset that, but that’s hardly enough.  Control is only going to take you so far, and without the other two skills he’s an easy pitcher to ignore.

 

3) Is Marcell Ozuna starting to turn things around…
He went 2-4 with 1 R yesterday and has now had multiple hits in his past four starts (9-14 with 1 RBI, 3 R and 1 SB).  The power hasn’t been there, so it’s likely not too late to buy low as he’s hitting .265 with 3 HR and 22 RBI over 185 AB.  While he had struggled with strikeouts overall, he has 1 K over this stretch (in fact he has 1 K over his last 20 AB) and has his strikeout rate down to 20.8%.  He has been hitting the ball extremely hard (45.5% Hard%) and we all know that a 6.8% HR/FB is going to climb (23.4% in ’17, 14.5% for his career).  Now is the time to buy, because the opportunity is likely going to disappear in short order.

 

4) Back and healthy, is Jeimer Candelario primed to make an impact…
He went 2-4 with 2 HR, 3 RBI and 3 R yesterday, putting him at .277 with 7 HR over 155 AB.  The biggest question facing him has been his power, and he’s seen his HR/FB nearly double from his time in the Majors last season (8.6% to 16.3%).  Considering it’s still a realistic mark and he’s pairing it with a strong command of the strike zone (8.5% O-Swing%), what’s not to like?  If he can continue to improve upon his 22.2% strikeout rate the numbers are only going to get better, but in OBP formats (where he has a 10.8% walk rate) there’s already a lot to like.  While it’s no guarantee he continues on this path, all signs point towards a full breakout in ’18.

 

5) The Jesus Aguilar show continued…
Obviously there were a lot of offensive heroes for the Brewers, as they racked up 17 R on 19 H against the Mets.  Among those with big days were:

  • Christian Yelich – 3-5, 3 RBI, 3 R
  • Tyler Saladino – 2-5, 2 RBI, 1 R (and he should see significant time at SS with Orlando Arcia now at Triple-A)
  • Lorenzo Cain – 3-4, 1 RBI, 3 R, 1 SB

It is Aguilar who is the most noteworthy, however, as he went 3-5 with 1 HR, 3 RBI and 2 R.  He’s now hitting .317 with 8 HR and 26 RBI over 123 AB, with 5 HR and 12 RBI over his past eight games.  There are numbers that may concern you, like a 45.2% fly ball rate (too home run centric) or a 37.4% O-Swing%.  However he’s hitting the ball hard (28.0% line drive rate), isn’t swinging and missing a ton (11.4% SwStr%) and has a believable 19.0% HR/FB (22.5% in ’17).  The bigger question is how playing time will be distributed once Eric Thames returns, but for now if Aguilar is hitting he’s going to be impossible to remove from the lineup.

 

6) Has Tony Kemp become a must own option…
He went 1-4 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 1 R yesterday, putting him at .375 with 1 HR, 8 RBI, 3 R and 2 SB over 24 AB.  Obviously it’s a small sample size, but he’s becoming an outfield fixture in short order and is going to continue buying time for Kyle Tucker to mature at Triple-A before being summoned to the Majors.  He has the upside of a 10/25 type player himself, and he’s also showing an ability to make consistent contact (7.0% SwStr%, 10.0% strikeout rate).  That just continues what he was doing prior to his recall (8.2% strikeout rate at Triple-A).  Obviously his .381 BABIP is going to regress and ultimately he could operate as a fourth outfielder, but as of today he’s showing that he can make an impact and is worth owning in all formats.

 

7) Will Sonny Gray ever be able to figure it out…
He allowed 5 ER on 7 H and 3 BB, striking out 7, over 3.2 IP against the Angels.  It’s frustrating, after he allowed 1 ER over 8.0 IP against the Royals his last time out, but maybe that was more due to his opponent than anything?  He now owns an ugly 5.98 ERA and 1.71 WHIP as he’s struggled with his control (5.07 BB/9) and has lacked the ability to generate big groundball rates (44.9%).  The latter is the biggest concern, considering his career 53.3% mark, especially since we haven’t seen the full impact of it quite yet (1.09 HR/9, and it will likely get significantly worse as the weather warms).  Of course the control is also a major concern and he’s been hit harder than ever (23.4% line drive rate, compared to an 18.7% career mark).  While we wouldn’t completely cut bait, it’s getting harder and harder to believe.

 

8) Jose Quintana reverts back with an ugly outing…
Here’s another pitcher who gave us a sense of hope in his previous outing (7.0 innings of 1 hit baseball against the Reds) only to revert back to the negatives.  Taking on the Giants he allowed 4 ER on 5 H and 2 BB, striking out 6, over 4.1 IP to give him a 4.78 ERA and 1.48 WHIP on the season.  He has been able to generate strikeouts (8.72 K/9), though even that’s not a guarantee to continue and is just one of the many questions:

  • SwStr% – 8.4%
  • Control – 4.61 BB/9
  • Home Runs – 1.37 HR/9 (44.4% groundball rate)

He’s been exceptionally bad at home (6.66 ERA), and with the home run risk looming that could continue.  For now we’d consider him a streaming option on the road, when the locale calls for it, but he’s certainly not a pitcher we’re buying.

 

9) Should you be back on the Christian Villanueva bandwagon…
He went 2-5 with 2 HR, 3 RBI and 2 R yesterday, giving him 14 HR and 31 RBI on the season.  Of course he also is hitting .242 as he’s struggled with strikeouts (48 K over 149 AB), and his 15.6% SwStr% and 38.0% O-Swing% means a 30% strikeout rate is going to continue to plague him.  He also is clearly taking a home run-centric approach (54.5% fly ball rate), which will continue to limit his BABIP upside, and you have to wonder if he can maintain a 25.5% HR/FB.  If you need some power he could be worth a flier, but chances are he’s going to regress there and continue to struggle with his average.  He’s simply not a player we’d be buying.

 

10) Jurickson Profar is finally starting to figure it out…
He went 2-4 with 1 R yesterday and is now on a five-game hitting streak (7-19 with 1 HR, 6 RBI, 5 R and 1 SB).  Even better is that he’s been an extra base machine during this stretch, adding 4 doubles and 1 triple, while he’s struck out just 3 times.  While he’s hitting just .244 overall, his 15.2% strikeout rate (with a 7.1% SwStr%) and .274 BABIP (despite a 21.7% line drive rate) indicate that he could continue to improve.  He also has shown flashes of his power potential and he has the speed to kick in some stolen bases.  While he may never live up to the hype once bestowed upon him, the upside is there to be a solid option for as long as he’s playing.

Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs

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

13 comments

  1. Chris says:

    Hi Prof. Would you drop Brian McCann for gattis, j mccann, or mesoraco? Thanks.

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      At this point I’d stream the spot and ride the hot hand. McCann doesn’t play every day and when he does he’s not producing

  2. Barry says:

    H2H 6×6 OPS &QS redraft league. Do you like Aguilar, Soto, and Heaney or Scherzer?

    Thank you

  3. Carlito says:

    Villanueva or Soler?

  4. dude says:

    I’m in a league where we acquire a FA pickup every 2 weeks. I currently have 3 FA pickups I could use and have some dead weight I can drop in Kinsler and Desmond. Are any of these guys worth picking up and how would you prioritize them?

    Span
    Choo
    Profar
    Nimmo
    Candelario
    Aguilar

    Ideally looking for players that have the best chance to contribute all year and not just a hot hand (So I don’t have to use another one of my FA pickups).

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      If you are looking for a lock all year it’s Candelario.

      That said, Aguilar/Nimmo could force the issue and have the higher upside.

  5. Mark says:

    I have Bumgarner and Ray coming off the DL in the near future (weekly H2H keeper league). How would you rank my fill-ins so I know who to cut: Folty, Hellickson, Velasquez, Heaney. I have Bauer, Garrett Richards and Flaherty, whom I value higher than the prior 4, as well.

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      I’d def. keep Velasquez (highest upside) and Folty. Hellickson is too big of a risk and Heaney is just eh

  6. Marcus Storm says:

    Prof. – Who of the following do you think I should drop when Reyes comes off the DL: Odorizzi, Rey Lopez, Luke Weaver, Jack Flaherty, Richards, Pivetta, Junis, Gohara?

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      Plenty of options. Odorizzi/Junis would be the first cuts (or whoever loses their spot in STL rotation). Gohara could also be candidate

      • Marcus Storm says:

        Thanks. Hoping to know who of, if either, Weaver or Flaherty will be sent down to make room for Reyes before he’s activated.

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