by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
In terms of DL news it was a rough day for fantasy owners, as Clayton Kershaw, Mookie Betts and Josh Donaldson were all placed on the DL. On the field no one appears capable of slowing down Brandon Nimmo, who went 2-4 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 1 R, raising his OBP to an amazing .436. Yaisel Puig had a monster day, albeit in Coors Field, going 4-5 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 3 R. It was a strong start for Sonny Gray, albeit against the Orioles, allowing 1 ER on 4 H and 0 BB, striking out 6, over 6.0 IP. What else happened on the field that we need to know about? Let’s dive in to all of the action:
1) Jeimer Candelario moved into the leadoff spot…
With Miguel Cabrera fresh off the DL, the Tigers shook up the lineup a bit. It’s likely just due to a left-handed pitcher being on the mound, which pushed Leonys Martin down in the order, but time will tell. Candelario had been hitting third and after going 1-4 with 1 RBI now holds a .274/.365/.520 slash. He entered the day hitting the ball fairly hard (36.2% Hard%) and also showing a strong approach (8.3% SwStr%, 29.2% O-Swing%). That could make him a decent option at the spot, though keep in mind a permanent move there would cost him RBI opportunities (though allow him to score more runs). It’s likely that he settles into the fifth spot in the lineup with right-handed pitchers on the mound, so that shouldn’t be a “concern”, but keep it in mind if you are more in need of RBI as opposed to R.
2) Has the time come to completely give up on Tyler Chatwood…
Taking on the Mets, who are obviously an offense that isn’t going to scare you, he needed 96 pitches to get through 5.1 innings. He allowed just 2 ER, but struggled with 4 H and 4 BB, striking out just 3. If you look at the skills entering the day, it’s obvious what the issue has been this season:
- Strikeouts – 8.19 K/9
- Control – 8.38 BB/9
- Groundballs – 52.4%
You could easily question the strikeout rate, considering his 7.1% SwStr% and 22.2% O-Swing% (just 9 swinging strikes yesterday) and control has never been his strong suit (4.46 BB/9). Even with improved control, will he make a big jump on his current 4.02 ERA? It’s becoming a tougher and tougher sell, and while there could be streaming value (and in deeper leagues he’s worth holding) it’s getting harder to believer.
3) Mike Foltynewicz steals the night against the Nationals…
He drew a tough matchup, but not only did he match Stephen Strasburg (6.2 IP, 3 ER, 7 H, 0 BB, 10 K) he completely outdid him. Foltynewicz ultimately tossed a complete game shutout, allowing 2 H and 1 BB while striking out 11. It’s easy to get infatuated with him, especially coming off this performance and with his current 2.22 ERA and 1.16 WHIP. It’s worth repeating what we recently said (click here for the article), as ultimately home runs will likely cost him (he entered with a 39.6% groundball rate and had 9 groundballs vs. 6 fly balls yesterday) and despite yesterday’s showing his control hasn’t been great (4.35 BB/9). We believed he was a sell high candidate before this outing, but this one only accelerates the process. His value will never be higher, so now is the perfect time to cash in.
4) Will Chase Anderson hold any value in 2018…
You would’ve thought this was a good opportunity, taking on the White Sox, but he ultimately took the loss as he allowed 4 R (3 earned) on 5 H and 1 BB, striking out 1, over 5.2 IP. While his current 4.45 ERA may not seem too bad, just keep in mind the following numbers:
- Luck Metrics – He entered the day with a .219 BABIP and 83.9% strand rate
- Lack of Strikeouts – He entered with a 6.22 K/9 courtesy of an 8.7% SwStr%, before he managed just 3 swinging strikes last night
- Home run Risk – As it is he’s allowed a 2.13 HR/9, and while that should improve his 33.5% groundball rate and home ballpark mean it likely won’t be a significant improvement.
Does any of that sound like a pitcher you want to invest in?
5) Has Eduardo Escobar earned himself a full-time job…
That wasn’t a certainty entering the season, but suspensions and injuries have thrust him into the lineup. What happens once everyone is back? At this point it’s hard to imagine him being pulled from the lineup. He went 2-4 with 2 HR, 4 RBI and 2 R yesterday, putting him at .272 with 10 HR and 30 RBI on the season. He has three straight two-hit games (6-12, 3 HR, 7 RBI, 4 R) and there was nothing unrealistic in his .312 BABIP or 12.3% HR/FB (12.8% last season) entering the day. Strikeouts are going to be something to watch, considering his 12.5% SwStr% and 39.8% O-Swing%, which does indicate the average may tumble, but even at .250-.260 with power he likely deserves a spot in the lineup. While he may have seemed like an obvious sell candidate initially, that’s no longer the case.
6) Dustin Fowler helps to fuel Oakland’s eruption…
Obviously we aren’t going to take anything away from Frankie Montas, who tossed 8.0 shutout innings against the Royals (he allowed 7 H and 0 BB, but struck out just 2), but when you get 16 R of support it’s not quite as impressive. Matt Olson had a big day himself (3-4, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 3 R), but it’s Fowler who draws the most attention. He went 3-5 with 2 HR, 4 RBI and 2 R, and even with the outburst the highly hyped prospect is now hitting just .216 with 3 HR, 11 RBI, 6 R and 3 SB over his first 51 AB in the Majors. That said a lot of his struggles have come due to luck and little else, as he entered the day with a .184 BABIP (despite a 41.0% Hard%) and showing a very strong approach (5.5% SwStr%, 31.8% O-Swing%). Yesterday easily could be just the start of a full breakout, so hopefully you hadn’t given up hope.
7) A dominant outing from Jameson Taillon…
Taking on the Cardinals he tossed 8.0 shutout innings, allowing 3 H and 1 BB while striking out 6. The most impressive number from the outing was his 15 groundballs vs. 3 fly balls, and having entered the day with a 49.7% groundball rate that should continue to be a positive. He also entered with an 8.43 K/9 and 2.65 BB/9, and while a 9.3% SwStr% isn’t going to blow you away (12 swinging strikes yesterday) all of the skills are clearly there for him to thrive. It was easy to have been down on him, but hopefully you were able to buy low prior to this outing. The price is only going to increase.
8) Is Jake Lamb primed to turned things around…
The Diamondbacks pounded Miami pitching for 6 HR (including 2 HR for Ketel Marte), but it’s Lamb who is going to garner the most attention. He went 2-4 with 1 HR, 1 RBI and 2 R yesterday, and fantasy owners can only hope it’s the beginning of a turnaround. He’s now hitting .232 with 2 HR and 11 RBI over 56 AB, but these metrics entering the day indicate a big improvement should be coming:
- BABIP – .278 (despite a 45.9% Hard%)
- HR/FB – 7.1 % (he posted 21.2% and 20.1% the previous two years)
It’s easy to be frustrated, especially after he missed a significant chunk of time, but better days should be ahead.
9) Has Jaime Barria become a must own option…
He was tremendous against the Rangers last night, tossing 6.0 shutout innings allowing 4 H and 1 BB, striking out 6 (with an impressive 14 swinging strikes). He’s now 5-1 with a 2.48 ERA and 1.05 WHIP over his first 36.1 IP (7 starts). Of course he also entered the day with an 85.5% strand rate and .247 BABIP, both of which indicate a significant regression could be on the horizon, and he also appears to lack the ability to generate many groundballs (39.3%, before just 6 groundballs vs. 6 fly outs yesterday). At this point the only way he has to go is down, so selling high while you can makes sense.
10) Nick Pivetta struggles against the Giants…
He only lasted 4.0 innings allowing 3 ER on 5 H and 3 BB, striking out 3, to fall to 4-4 with a 3.48 ERA and 1.15 WHIP on the season. Pivetta was gaining a lot of traction prior to this start, having entered the day with believable luck metrics (.303 BABIP, 75.9% strand rate) while showing an interesting array of skills:
- Strikeouts – 10.40 K/9
- Control – 2.17 BB/9
- Groundballs – 40.4%
Home runs will likely be an issue (he entered with a 0.78 HR/9, which is almost a lock to regress) and you also have to wonder if he can maintain that type of control (he now has 5 BB over his past 9.0 IP). There will likely be value, but don’t be surprised if he continues to slide.
Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs
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