by Ray Kuhn
Last night brought with it a full slate of games for our enjoyment. Of course it wasn’t all good vibes across the league as we found out that Miguel Cabrera is now out for the season with a ruptured biceps tendon. The good thing, if you can find a silver lining, is that we have clarity on Cabrera’s status and you don’t have to add him to the ever growing list of injured players that are taking up valuable roster space. With that being said, let’s take a look at some of the performances of note from a busy Tuesday night:
1) E-Rod Continues to Win
If it is wins you are after, then Eduardo Rodriguez is your man. It wasn’t a particularly crisp outing, but facing Baltimore this season, you don’t need your best stuff. Rodriguez picked up his eighth victory of the season with 5.2 innings of two run ball, but you might say that he escaped. The southpaw allowed eight hits and four walks while striking four, but he was able to limit the damage. For a pitcher who is striking out 10.17 batters per nine innings so far this season, you could opine that it was a down outing, but Rodriguez was able to get through it.
Compared to last season, one of the big things to note, is that Rodriguez’s ground ball rate is up from 34.9% to 41.4%. Last night proved that he can get the job done even if he doesn’t have his best stuff, albeit against a struggling team, and Rodriguez has earned a spot in your starting lineup moving forward regardless of the opponent; if that hasn’t been the case already.
2) Nola Cruises for the Victory
The way Aaron Nola was throwing last night, you would have liked to see him be more efficient. It doesn’t have anything to do with the results, just that it would have been nice to get more than 6.2 innings out of him. Nola needed 108 pitches, 76 strikes, to pick up his eighth victory of the season as he lowered his ERA to 2.27. Colorado wasn’t able to generate much in the way of offense against Nola last night, they are in good company so far this season, as the right-hander allowed just one run on four hits while striking out 10. In fact, it was exactly what we have come to expect from Nola this season. He has gotten is walk rate down to 2.18 batters per nine innings, from 2.63 last season, while increasing his ground ball rate from 49.8% to 54.8%. If you didn’t know it already, Nola is an ace.
3) One Wasn’t Enough for Didi
We knew that Didi Gregorius wasn’t going to continue the pace with which he started the season, but at the same time, you don’t just want to see him fall off the cliff either. After hitting .327 in April with 10 home runs and 30 RBI, the shortstop couldn’t have fallen any harder if he tried. May saw Gregorius bat just .151 with one home run and nine RBI; talk about coming back down to earth. So far in June though, the shortstop appears to be leveling out as, after last night, he is hitting .286 on the season with his first two home runs of the month. Both were solo shots for Gregorius last night, and for the season he is hitting .248 with 13 home runs and 38 RBI. It would have been interesting to say earlier this season, but he is now a candidate for some positive regression based on his .236 BABIP. If anything, it’s possible Gregorius is actually a buy-low candidate after his recent struggles.
4) Adames is Back
Suddenly, with the promotion of Jake Bauers and Willy Adames being recalled, Tampa Bay has gotten a little more interesting. It appears that, this time, Adames is here to stay, but lets not hold our breath. Batting fifth on Tuesday, the shortstop went 2 for 4 with his first career double and a run scored. Prior to his promotion, Adames was hitting .286 with four home runs and 30 RBI in Triple-A, and he is a career .270 hitter in the minor leagues. While it is an exciting time whenever a prospect is promoted, and Adames does have some raw tools, I would remain cautiously optimistic. For now, Adames looks like a 10/10 player with some upside and a solid batting average. Don’t pay for anything more than that.
5) Anderson Leaves the Cubs Chasing
Once in a while a bad pun finds its way in here, and there you have it. I am not the biggest Chase Anderson fan, and if he were on any of my times, he likely would have been on my bench last night; hence why I don’t own him. But if that was the case, I would have missed out on a gem from the Milwaukee right-hander. Anderson threw seven shutout innings against the Cubs on Tuesday in which he limited them to just one hit and two walks while striking out six to pick up his fifth victory of the season. That start brought Anderson’s ERA down to 4.13 on the season, but his FIP is sitting there at 5.46; with an xFIP of 5.16. Compared to last season, Anderson’s walks are up (2.61 to 3.50 per nine innings), and his strikeouts are down as they went from 8.47 to 6.13. Couple that with a .217 BABIP, yes Milwaukee does field a good defense behind him, but 34.8% ground ball rate also doesn’t have me overly enthused (down from 39.2% last season).
6) Be Careful Who You Stack Against, At Least for One Night
It seemed to be pretty obvious last night. Stack all of your Cleveland Indians bats against James Shields and watch the points stack up. Instead, the right-hander had other ideas as he reminded us that on any given night, anything can happen once you step between those white lines. Shields picked up his second victory of the season with seven innings of one run ball. The right-hander allowed just four hits and didn’t walk a batter as he lowered his ERA to 4.63 on the season; although he only picked up two strikeouts. While Shields’ walks per nine innings have improved so far this season, 3.32 from 4.08 last season, his strikeouts have also taken a large drop going from 7.92 to 5.94. That really is all the proof you need to stay away from Shields in just about all situations moving forward. And regardless of last night, don’t stop stacking your hitters against him either.
7) Jay Fits Right In
We can’t dispute the fact that the move to Arizona, from Kansas City, will benefit John Jay as he now goes to a team that has an actual offense. Installed as the new lead-off hitter for the Diamondbacks, the first four games were a little rough for Jay, but he certainly looked comfortable at the plate last night. The outfielder went 3 for 5 with three RBI and three runs scored. He isn’t much of a power hitter, but Jay did hit his second home run of the season while raising his overall average to .308 for the year. Jay isn’t going to give you much more than a solid batting average and some runs scored, but as a fifth outfielder, you can’t really ask for much more than that.
8) Gattis Puts His Power on Display
Fantasy owners are really benefiting from Evan Gattis this year at the catcher position. Not only are they getting top level performance, but they also don’t have to deal with Gattis actually getting behind the plate as Houston is essentially using him just as a DH. After getting off to a slow start, Gattis is settling in nicely, and that was evidenced by his three run blast last night. It was the 11th home run of the season for Gattis, and 10 of those home runs have come in his last 30 games. Over that stretch, Gattis is hitting .280 as compared to his batting average for the season which is .239 (in 57 games). Gattis also added a double that drove in two runs that brought his RBI total for the season up to 37 as he appears to be locked in at the plate.
9) It’s Not His Fault the Angels Lost
At this point, we really are running out of things to say about Mike Trout. Even though the Angels lost last night, it’s truly hard to ignore what he does at the plate. The outfielder went deep twice last night, a solo shot and a two run shot, and he is now up to 23 home runs and 44 RBI on the season. That comes with a .310 batting average, and praise for Trout is truly becoming redundant.
10) Muncy Continues to Hit
At this point, the Dodgers (or their injuries) are going to find a way for Max Muncy to play everyday. And all the utility player is going to do, is continue to hit. Batting second last night, Muncy went 2 for 5 to raise his average to .277 and hit his 13th home run of the season. Muncy also had an RBI single, and for the season he has 30 RBI in 45 games. We are seeing a true spike in power from Muncy so far this season, a .354 ISO compared to his career mark of .212, and the results are evident. For the most part, you are going to get either a home run, walk (15.9%) or strikeout (24.8%) from Muncy, but that is perfectly alright. The issue though, is that we can’t expect his 29.5% home run to fly ball rate to be sustainable. Ride out the hot streak, but don’t over invest either.
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