by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Trevor Bauer starred on the mound, beating the Tigers as he allowed 1 ER on 7 H and 1 BB, striking out 12, over 8.0 IP. It was another tough luck loss for Jacob deGrom, who held the Yankees to 3 R (2 earned) on 4 H and 2 BB, striking out 8, over 8.0 IP. Khris Davis continues his monster season, going 2-4 with 2 HR, 2 RBI and 2 R, giving him 17 HR despite spending time recently on the DL. What else happened on the field that we need to know about (forgetting about the injuries to Shohei Ohtani, Stephen Strasburg and Masahiro Tanaka, as well as learning Noah Syndgaard wouldn’t be returning as hoped)? Let’s dive right in:
1) Ryan Braun and the Brewers erupt against Vince Velasquez…
While Braun had the biggest day for the Brewers (2-4, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 2 R), a lot of different players got into the party as they racked up 12 R on 13 H. Amazingly the bulk of the damage came against Velasquez, who was shelled for 10 ER on 9 H and 2 BB, striking out 4, over 3.2 IP. Talk about stopping what was a positive stretch (2 ER or fewer in four straight starts, 3 ER or fewer in six) in spectacular fashion. That said he’s now shown an improved groundball rate over his past two starts (16 groundballs vs. 6 fly balls in total) and we all know that strikeouts (11.17 K/9) and control (3.11 BB/9) hadn’t been an issue. If he can keep the ball in the ballpark he’s going to hold value, so don’t let this miserable outing deter you. The upside is still there, this may just create an even better buying opportunity, though given this split (which was even before yesterday’s debacle) make sure you only use him on the road:
- Home – 5.40 ERA
- Road – 2.79 ERA
2) Is Randal Grichuk starting to heat up…
He went 1-3 with 1 HR, 1 RBI and 1 R yesterday, giving him home runs in two of his past four games (6-14 with 2 HR and 6 RBI, while also adding 3 doubles). He entered the day with a .161 BABIP courtesy of an 8.5% line drive rate and 21.4% popup rate, and that wasn’t even the biggest issue as his approach continues to be abysmal (14.8% SwStr%). He did enter the day with a June line drive rate of 20.0% and a 0.00% popup rate, so there are clearly signs that things are starting to turn. As long as he can keep the strikeouts in check, something that has been a problem in the past, Grichuk could make an impact. If he’s sitting available in your league (and there’s a good chance he is), scoop him up now and see if you can ride the wave.
3) Dylan Covey outpitches Chris Sale…
Who would’ve predicted we would be saying that entering the day? Sale was spectacular, allowing 1 ER on 6 H and 1 BB, striking out 10, over 8.0 IP but it was Covey who walked away with the W. Over 6.0 shutout innings against the Red Sox he allowed just 3 H and 1 BB, striking out 7, as he generated ample groundballs (8 groundballs vs. 3 fly balls). That has been the key for Covey, who entered the day with a 63.2% groundball rate in the Majors (after a 55.9% mark over 7 starts at Triple-A). He doesn’t have significant strikeout potential (8.1% SwStr% entering the day, only 8 swinging strikes yesterday) or control (3.49 BB/9 prior to his recall, 11 BB in 28.1 IP in the Majors), and that’s going to limit his upside. He could be a streaming option/matchup play, but don’t expect him to maintain his current 2.22 ERA.
4) Was it truly a rebound start for Michael Fulmer…
Taking on the Indians he allowed 1 ER on 5 H and 0 BB, striking out 7, over 7.0 IP but had to settle for a no decision. Before we get overly excited, keep in mind that he managed just 8 swinging strikes on the day, which calls the strikeouts into a little bit of question. That said he entered the day with a 10.7% SwStr%, showing the upside to stay in the 7.75-8.25 K/9 range moving forward (if not a little bit more) and all of the metrics point in the right direction:
- Strikeouts – 7.43 K/9
- Control – 3.65 BB/9
- Groundballs – 47.9%
- Strand Rate – 68.8%
He had shown great control in April (2.15 BB/9), and it’s possible he gets back there as well. While we aren’t going all in, as we had questions entering the year, there’s enough to hold out hope and not try to cash in on this one start.
5) Jose Martinez erupts against Matt Harvey and the Reds…
He went 2-4 with 2 HR, 4 RBI and 2 R, putting him at .315 with 8 HR and 39 RBI on the season. Entering the year the question had been where the AB would come from, but he’s settled into the every day 1B job (with Matt Carpenter instead splitting time between 2B and 3B), and while he had been a somewhat disappointment he has changed that in a hurry. He’s currently on a six game hitting streak, with home runs in back-to-back games (3 HR) and multiple RBI in three straight (8 RBI). He has shown an ability to hit the ball hard (26.9% line drive rate entering the day) while also making consistent contact (6.2% SwStr%, 13.8% strikeout rate), and we all knew the power would grow (13.6% HR/FB, after a 20.9% last year). In other words, this hot streak should continue.
6) Caleb Smith continues to try to prove his value…
It’s easy to overlook any Marlins player, and it’s also hard to give significant credit for shutting down the Padres. That said Smith tossed 5.1 shutout innings, allowing 4 H and 2 BB, striking out 5, to improve to 5-6 with a 3.70 ERA and 1.19 WHIP. It was a solid bounce back performance (5 ER over 4.0 IP against the Diamondbacks in his previous start) and he’s now allowed 1 ER or less in three of his past four starts (2 ER or fewer in seven of his past nine). Of course he’s shown little groundball stuff (28.7% groundball rate entering the day), and that’s likely to limit him to just home starts (even with the improved control he’s shown, including a 3.25 BB/9 in May). There’s value and reason to use him while he’s pitching well, but he’s more of a streaming option who has seen a drop in his strikeout performance (5 K or fewer in five of his past six starts).
7) It’s safe to say it, Paul Goldschmidt is “back”…
If you had the opportunity to buy low and opted not to, you are kicking yourself today. After going 3-5 with 2 HR, 3 RBI and 3 R last night Goldschmidt is still hitting just .241, but he’s up to 10 HR and 25 RBI on the year. Just remember he entered June hitting .209, so the rise has been dramatic (he’s 10-14 over his past three games, with 5 doubles and 2 HR). He had been struggling with strikeouts (he entered the day with a 29.3% strikeout rate), but he was down to 15.4% in June (and didn’t strikeout yesterday). It was just a matter of time, and there’s a good chance this hot streak is an extended one.
8) Are we buying Frankie Montas…
He dominated the Royals last night, allowing 2 ER on 6 H and 1 BB, striking out 5, over 7.2 IP to improve to 3-0 with a 1.25 ERA and 0.88 WHIP over three starts (21.2 IP). Of course he’s benefited from an unsustainable 91.8% strand rate and .238 BABIP, especially considering he’s been hit relatively hard (25.4% line drive rate) and hasn’t been generating many swings and misses (7.2% SwStr%). Primarily utilizing his fastball (81.6% of the time), it’s just a matter of time before the implosion comes. He’s been a nice short-term story, but stay away.
9) Are we buying the breakout of Max Muncy…
He wasn’t alone in the barrage of the Atlanta pitching staff, with the team slugging five home runs:
- Yasmani Grandal – 2-4, 2 HR, 2 RBI, 2 R
- Joc Pederson – 1-4, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R
- Cody Bellinger – 1-2, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R
It is Muncy, who went 2-4 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 1 R, that deserves out attention though. He’s now hitting .262 with 10 HR and 25 RBI as he’s forced his way into every day AB. Of course it’s hard to buy into a 24.4% HR/FB from a player who had never shown much power potential (12 HR in 320 PA in the Pacific Coast League last season). He has shown a good approach (8.2% SwStr%, 20.1% O-Swing%), though an inflated fly ball rate (47.1%) will also cap his average potential. Use him while he’s hot, but don’t be surprised if there’s a significant slow down.
10) Marco Gonzales continues to roll…
Of course it came against the Rays, but he allowed just 2 ER on 5 H and 0 BB, striking out 3, over 7.1 IP to improve to 7-3 with a 3.28 ERA and 1.24 WHIP. His strength solely lies on his control (2.07 BB/9), as he’s been hit relatively hard (27.5% line drive rate, helping to justify the .322 BABIP) and lacks swing and miss stuff (8.2% SwStr%). He’s now allowed 3 ER over his past five starts, so it’s easy to get excited and ride the hot stretch, but he’s likely at his ceiling at this point. Without the strikeouts he’s going to be a mid-to-back end option, and only usable if the matchup justifies it.
Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs
Missed our Top 100 prospect rankings? Make sure to check it out by clicking here.