by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Miguel Andujar continued to show his value, going 2-4 with 1 HR, 3 RBI and 1 R, as he tries to entrench himself in the everyday lineup (even as the team gets healthy). If Jacob deGrom pitched for a good team he’d be a Cy Young candidate, instead he can’t seem to get a W (and yesterday was no difference, despite allowing 1 R on 7 H and 2 BB, striking out 13, over 7.0 IP against the Cubs). It was a great start from Garrett Richards, though he walked away with a no decision, allowing 0 ER (he allowed an unearned run) on 1 H and 1 BB, striking out 9, over 7.0 IP against the Rangers. What else happened on the field that we need to know about? Let’s take a look:
1) Despite poor numbers, optimism grows for Trevor Cahill…
The surface numbers weren’t pretty, as he allowed 4 ER on 7 H and 2 BB over 4.2 IP, but when you start to dig in the performance was better than those indicate:
- Strikeouts – 6 (and he had 13 swinging strikes)
- Groundballs – 6 vs. 0 flyballs
Remember he entered the day showing all of the skills we look for from a pitcher, with an 8.39 K/9, 1.84 BB/9 and 60.2% groundball rate. You can question the control, but he’s always been a good groundball pitcher and has been generating more swinging strikes than ever before (13.3% SwStr% entering the day). At this point there’s no reason not to believe.
2) Luke Weaver pitches well, sort of…
Alex Reyes’ return to the DL will help to add to the appeal of Weaver, though last night’s performance against the Pirates brought more questions than answers. While he allowed 1 ER on 4 H and 0 BB, striking out 4, over 5.0 IP there were two key numbers that raise red flags:
- Swinging Strikes – 3
- Groundballs – 3 (compared to 8 fly balls)
He entered the day with a 10.0% SwStr%, so last night’s number may be more of an aberration, but he also hasn’t carried an elite mark. Groundballs have also been a bit of an issue (42.9% entering the day) and there’s little doubt that his 0.93 HR/9 could rise (he did allow a home run yesterday). In other words, while there is potential value for 2018 the risk may outweigh any potential reward.
3) Should we be buying Johan Camargo and his power surge…
He went 1-5 with 1 HR, 3 RBI and 1 R, providing the only offense in Atlanta’s marathon loss to the Nationals (14 innings). While he’s hitting just .221, he does have 5 HR in 104 AB (and 3 HR in his past five games). Before you get so excited about the power number, remember he had 8 HR over 398 PA between Triple-A and the Majors last season. That said he did show some upside (30 doubles and 3 triples) and there’s no question that he should improve upon his .240 BABIP (45.6% Hard%) and he’s shown a tremendous approach (7.3% SwStr%, 22.8% O-Swing%). Suddenly he is showing the necessary signs of turning the corner, and while Austin Riley looms large don’t underestimate what Camargo could do.
4) Despite the W, Masahiro Tanaka continues to underwhelm…
Taking on the Orioles he allowed 4 ER on 8 H and 1 BB, striking out 7, over 5.1 IP as he was just enough better than Kevin Gausman (5.1 IP, 6 R, 9 H, 0 BB, 9 K) to earn the W. Tanaka was bringing more than enough swings and misses (19), though he owns a 14.1% SwStr% and 36.6% O-Swing% that was never the biggest question. The issue has been his ability to keep the ball in the ballpark, and after allowing 3 HR yesterday he’s up to a 2.00 HR/9. We’d love to be able to say that it’s obvious he’ll improve, but he owned a 1.77 HR/9 in 30 starts last year (50 HR over his last 246.0 IP). If he can’t figure out the home run issues he’s going to continue to struggle, and playing half his games in Yankee Stadium it’s possible he never figures it out.
5) Has David Price truly figured it out…
Since missing a start against the Yankees in early May Price has been on a solid roll, allowing 3 ER or fewer in five straight starts. Yesterday he was taking on the Astros, allowing 3 ER on 5 H and 1 BB, striking out 7, over 6.0 IP to earn the W. Over this stretch he’s allowed 10 ER on 22 H and 11 BB, striking out 34, over 31.1 IP, lowering his ERA from 5.11 to 4.08 in the process. His biggest issue has been a significant step backwards in his control overall, with a 3.56 BB/9 (2.34 career mark), though to potential to be burned by home runs (0.92 HR/9, 40.2% groundball rate) continues to loom large. He also has seen a big drop in both his SwStr% (8.9%, after four straight seasons of 10.6% or better) and O-Swing% (28.7%, with a career 30.4% mark). While he’s worth using while he’s going well, know the risks.
6) Could Mike Montgomery entrench himself in the rotation…
He pitched well yesterday, albeit against the Mets, allowing 1 ER on 2 H and 1 BB, striking out 4, over 6.0 IP. His one mistake came to Michael Conforto (1-5, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R), as he generated groundball after groundball (11 groundballs vs. 3 fly balls). Over the course of his career he owns a 56.7% groundball rate and 3.55 BB/9, and he’s been able to maintain those while operating as a starting pitcher (55.5% and 3.18, respectively). The “issue” has been an ability to generate strikeouts, with a 7.10 K/9 while starting and that will ultimately cap his value. Keep that in mind, but with questions in the Cubs’ rotation Montgomery has the potential to make an impact.
7) Joc Pederson erupts in Coors Field…
Obviously the locale needs to be taken into account, but he still went 4-5 with 2 HR, 2 RBI and 4 R. Even with this big day he’s hitting just .265 with 3 HR and 20 RBI on the season, though he’s don a tremendous job of cutting down on the strikeouts (14.7% in ’18). Over the past three years he’s continued to drop his SwStr% (8.9%, compared to an 11.4% career mark) and the power should continue to grow (6.4% HR/FB, compared to a 17.8% career mark). The bigger question is if he can be more than a platoon player, hitting just .158 over 19 AB against LHP (.282 against RHP). At the very least, when the Dodgers don’t have southpaws on the schedule he’s worth using as the potential is there for the numbers to get better and better.
8) Will Travis Jankowski force his way into every day AB…
He went 2-5 with 2 R and 2 SB yesterday, giving him a slash of .318/.381/.392 on the season. Obviously he’s not a power hitter (1 doubles, 2 triples, 1 HR over his 102 AB), but no one is going to question his speed (10 SB). So will he be able to continue getting on base, maximizing his speed and allowing him to make an impact in a deep outfield? Even with his speed it’s hard to bank on him maintaining his .388 BABIP (especially with a miniscule 14.8% Hard%). He has shown a great approach (5.2% SwStr%, 18.0% O-Swing%), which helps but it may not be enough. Manuel Margot went 2-4 with 2 RBI and 1 R yesterday and is now hitting .271 since May 7. With him showing signs of figuring it out, any type of struggle for Jankowski could lead to Margot slotting back at the top of the lineup on a daily basis. If you need speed it makes sense, but don’t go all in here.
9) Ian Kinsler continues to heat up…
We’ve waited and waited and waited, and finally that patience is paying dividends. Kinsler went 2-5 with 1 HR, 1 RBI and 1 R yesterday, giving him home runs in back-to-back games and extending his hitting streak to six-games (12-24, 3 HR, 6 RBI, 6 R). Is he going to be able to keep this going for an extended period of time? We’ll have to wait and see, but given his track record we’d hope he could. That said, ride the hot streak while you can but continue to monitor him closely just in case things go south once again.
10) Another strong showing from Marco Gonzales…
He outpitched Chris Archer (5.0 IP, 2 R, 7 H, 2 BB, 6 K) to improve to 6-3 with a 3.38 ERA, after allowing 1 ER on 5 H and 2 BB, striking out 6, over 6.2 IP. While it’s easy to get excited, there are significant questions hanging over Gonzales moving forward:
- Strikeouts – He doesn’t own an overly impressive K/9 as it is (7.97), but an 8.0% SwStr% indicates that there’s little growth potential and a good chance he regresses
- Home Runs – It hasn’t been an issue thus far, with a 0.68 HR/9, but he owns a 1.13 career mark and a 46.7% groundball rate is solid but likely will lead to more home runs allowed
- Line Drive Rate – He has been hit relatively hard, with a 27.7% line drive rate, so a .339 BABIP may not be destined to improve
Ride the streak while he’s going well, but don’t consider him a lock to maintain this type of production.
Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs
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