by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Eduardo Escobar continued his scorching hot hitting, going 2-4 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 1 R (he’s now 15-34 with 5 HR and 15 RBI over his past nine games). Cody Bellinger continued to show signs of turning things around, going 3-4 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 2 R. Despite going 0-4 in his MLB debut Jake Bauers looked good (he was hitting the ball hard) and with Brad Miller being designated for assignment he should get every day AB from here on out. What else happened on the field that we need to know about? Let’s take a look:
1) A dominant performance from Jose Berrios, but do we sell high…
He got plenty of support early, but that doesn’t take away from the performance against the White Sox as he went the distance allowing 2 ER on 6 H and 0 BB, striking out 10. While he allowed 4 ER in his previous outing, he’s now allowed 2 ER or fewer in four of his past five (lowering his ERA from 4.50 to 3.66). He hasn’t shown the groundball rate we’d like to see (41.5% entering the day), but he’s brought strikeouts (8.92 K/9 courtesy of an 11.6% SwStr% and 35.5% O-Swing%) and great control (1.69 BB/9). A .244 BABIP and the home run risk does cast a little bit of doubt over his long-term outlook, and it will likely mean that he continues with an ERA closer to 4.00. Long-term he should figure it out, but if you are simply looking at 2018 selling high may make the most sense.
2) Scott Schebler moved into the leadoff spot…
The move up in the lineup did little to impact him, as he went 3-6 with 1 RBI and 1 R to extend his hitting streak to seven games (including five multi-hit games and 3 HR). Of course he isn’t your prototypical leadoff hitter and while he has reduced his strikeout rate overall (he entered the day at 18.0%), his approach hasn’t improved and indicates a regression is coming:
- SwStr% – 14.0%
- O-Swing% – 34.6%
Throw in a 54.5% groundball rate (51.2% in April, 62.1% in May), limiting his power potential, and what exactly is there to get excited about?
3) Joc Pederson continues to try and emerge as a post-hype breakout…
He went 3-5 with 2 HR, 3 RBI and 3 R, his second 2 HR game in his past five (he has 5 HR over his past five games) and suddenly is hitting a respectable .272 with 6 HR, 25 RBI and 25 R over 147 AB. The biggest improvement has come in his strikeout rate, which makes sense considering his 8.8% SwStr% and 25.7% entering the day (leading to a 14.2% strikeout rate, compared to a 25.4% career mark). There’s never been a question about his ability to draw a walk (13.9% for his career), though he does continue to operate more as a platoon player:
- LHP (19 AB) – .158/.190/.211
- RHP (123 AB) – .276/.362/.496
That’s going to limit his value, especially when there are a slew of southpaws on the schedule, but if he’s going to face righty after righty he’s going to be a must play.
4) Another gem from Miles Mikolas…
Owners are going to look for a reason to sell high on Mikolas, who now is 7-1 with a 2.27 ERA and 0.96 WHIP over his first 12 starts after allowing 1 R (0 earned) on 3 H and 1 BB, striking out 5, over 7.0 IP against the Marlins. However he entered the day with fairly realistic luck metrics (79.6% strand rate, .267 BABIP) and displaying the skills that we look for:
- Strikeouts – 6.59 K/9, but a 9.0% SwStr% (and 15 swinging strikes yesterday) shows more upside
- Control – 1.00 BB/9
- Groundballs – 50.5% (11 groundballs vs. 5 fly balls yesterday)
Granted his luck may regress and he’ll likely walk a few more batters, but there will remains an awful lot to like. He’s far from a must sell at this point.
5) What has gone wrong with Tyler Chatwood…
While he escaped with a no decision it was an ugly outing for Chatwood, who allowed 1 ER on 4 H and 7 BB, striking out 6, over 4.2 IP. What’s interesting is that he generated 13 swinging strikes and 8 groundballs vs. 0 fly balls, so if he had shown any semblance of control he could’ve been on track for a masterpiece. That has been the big issue, and while he should eventually improve upon an 8.22 BB/9 entering the day, he owns a 4.48 BB/9 for his career (4.69 last season). He simply doesn’t fool anyone (23.2% O-Swing%) and the swinging strikes were a bit of an aberration (7.3% SwStr%). Maybe he turns it around, but that’s not something we’d be willing to bank on.
6) The Detroit Tigers spoil the MLB debut of Jalen Beeks…
It’s not a complete surprise that he struggled, as we talked about the risks involved yesterday (click here for our in-depth look). Beeks did settle down a bit, after a rough first inning (he allowed 5 ER) and ultimately finished allowing 6 ER on 7 H and 3 BB, striking out 4, over 4.0 IP. Home runs were the biggest concern (he allowed a home run to Leonys Martin in the first inning), though we also noted his control may not be a strong selling point as well. Both of those things came to fruition and could continue to plague him as he gets further opportunities in the Majors (though those will have to wait, as he’s already been optioned back to the minors). That’s not to say that there’s little chance of an impact, but expecting him to be a difference maker in 2018 would be a mistake.
7) Does the Orioles’ David Hess warrant our attention…
Yesterday marked his third straight strong outing, this time against the Blue Jays, as he allowed 1 ER on 5 H and 2 BB, striking out 4, over 6.0 IP. He’s now allowed 1 ER or fewer in each of his past three starts (2 ER over 18.2 IP), including a matchup with the Nationals, but before we get excited keep in mind that he has 9 K vs. 6 BB over this stretch (he had a 7.17 K/9 and 3.09 BB/9 over 154.1 IP at Double-A last season) and the risk of home runs is going to continue looming large (30.7% groundball rate at Double-A in ’17, 31.2% at Triple-A prior to his recall). That’s continued in the Majors, as he’s already allowed 6 HR over his first 29.1 IP, and given his home ballpark that basically eliminates all of the potential value.
8) The breakout of Mitch Haniger continues…
He went 2-3 with 1 HR, 3 RBI and 1 R yesterday, putting him at .374 with 13 HR and 46 RBI over 223 AB on the season. He did strikeout once, giving him at least 1 K in nine straight games (58 K vs. 29 BB on the year), though his 22.4% strikeout rate, 10.0% SwStr% and 26.6% O-Swing% entering the day isn’t going to raise any red flags. He has spiked a bit in June (30.4% strikeout rate), though it’s only a week so we can chalk that up to a small sample size. Couple that with realistic power (18.5% HR/FB entering the day), hitting the ball exceptionally hard (41.6% Hard%) and the potential for his .305 BABIP to improve and exactly what is there not to like? While some speculated selling high, at this point fantasy owners just need to enjoy the breakout (unless you are overwhelmed, of course).
9) Evan Gattis’ power surge continues to make him viable…
He went 2-4 with 1 HR and 3 RBI yesterday, giving him home runs in back-to-back games and 6 HR in his past 10 games. Overall he’s hitting .234 with 10 HR, so the question is going to be if he’s capable of getting the average up, even to just the .250-.260 range. While it would be easy to point towards a decent 23.1% strikeout rate coupled with a .246 BABIP entering the day as a reason for optimism, his lack of speed and elevated fly ball rate (48.0%) will keep the latter suppressed. There is hope of an improvement in the strikeout rate (8.8% SwStr%, 27.1% O-Swing%), though how much remains to be seen (21.6% strikeout rate for his career). That’s not to say that he won’t improve, and with his power and upside he’s well worth utilizing at your catcher spot, just doesn’t consider it a given.
10) Is it time to cash in on Jorge Soler…
After going 0-3 yesterday he’s now 5-25 with 1 HR and 3 RBI to start off June. More important is his 10 K vs. 2 BB, and that’s something that’s going to loom large moving forward:
- Strikeouts – 26.0%
- SwStr% – 15.3%
The strikeout mark will likely continue to rise, while his .345 BABIP will likely regress (as will his 42.6% Hard%). That means his average could easily tumble, and if he can’t maintain his 17.3% HR/FB the results could get ugly. Throw in that the supporting cast will only get worse and now may be the time to move on before it gets too late.
Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs
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