10 Important Stories From 06/18/18 Box Scores: Potential “Breakouts” To Avoid (Adames), Buy Low Candidates (Suarez/Gray) & More

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

Elvis Andrus returned from the DL (0-3, 1 R), but interestingly it was Rougned Odor who headed to the bench for the first game and not Jurickson Profar (0-4, 1 R).  Trevor Bauer continues to roll, shutting down the White Sox with 7.0 scoreless innings while allowing 3 H and 2 BB, striking out 8, to earn the W.  Jacob deGrom finally got run support and tamed Coors Field in the process, earning a W by allowing 2 R (1 earned) on 5 H and 1 BB, striking out 7, over 8.0 IP.  Let’s dive in to all the action from yesterday and the main takeaways from it:

 

1) Has Sonny Gray truly figured things out…
That’s not to say this was a perfect outing, albeit against the Nationals, as he allowed 2 ER on 6 H and 1 BB, striking out 7, over 5.0 IP and threw a wild pitch and hit a batter.  That said he also generated 16 swinging strikes and generated enough groundballs (6 groundballs vs. 2 fly balls).  Over his past nine starts he’s allowed 2 ER or fewer six times, including three of his past four, and in his four June starts he owns a 2.63 ERA and 1.00 WHIP thanks to an 8.25 K/9 and 1.88 BB/9.  He’s also started generating more groundballs, at 54.2% for June entering the day.  There are obviously still questions but things are heading in the right direction.  If you can still buy low it’s not a bad idea, as he should be a productive option over the remainder of the season.

 

2) Is Nick Pivetta truly breaking out before our eyes…
Taking on the Cardinals he was spectacular, allowing 2 ER on 4 H and 1 BB, striking out 13, over 7.1 IP.  It was clear that St. Louis was struggling, as he racked up 21 swinging strikes after entering the game with an 11.1% SwStr%.  It’s impressive, and he also continues to fire strikes (2.63 BB/9 entering the day).  The biggest problem has been a recent string of home run issues, as he allowed a pair of home runs yesterday and has now given up 4 HR over his past three starts (17.1 IP).  With a 41.7% groundball rate it’s possible that it continues, but the other numbers all support strong results.  The luck metrics also indicate that he can maintain the strong performances:

  • BABIP – .323 (despite a 29.2% Hard%)
  • Strand Rate – 70.6%

Maybe the strikeouts regress a little bit, but at this point there’s every reason to believe.

 

3) Jhoulys Chacin pitches well in defeat…
He was outpitched by Trevor Williams (7.0 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 2 BB, 7 K), but that doesn’t take away from the strong performance.  Chacin went 6.1 innings allowing 1 ER on 6 H and 2 BB, striking out 2, and now has a solid 3.18 ERA and 1.24 WHIP over 16 starts.  Before you get too “excited”, he hasn’t been generating groundballs (40.2% entering the day, 8 groundballs vs. 7 fly balls yesterday) or a significant number of strikeouts (7.08 K/9, before getting only 5 swinging strikes yesterday).  With a .264 BABIP despite a 39.8% Hard% entering the day, it’s easy to envision things going south in a hurry.  Don’t get too excited.

 

4) Is Jason Kipnis ready to finally breakout…
He had a big day yesterday, going 3-4 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 2 R, though hitting .207 with 5 HR and 27 RBI overall it’s hard to get excited.  He’s clearly trying to hit for more power than in the past (he entered with a 43.0% fly ball rate, compared to a 33.9% for his career), but it hasn’t translated (4.8% HR/FB).  That type of lack of production isn’t unheard of for him, considering HR/FB of 4.8% and 6.9% in ’14 and ’15, and the increased fly ball rate helps to support his .241 BABIP (in ’17 he had a 44.1% fly ball rate and .256 BABIP).  That’s not to say that he isn’t better than he’s shown thus far, and a turn around is possible, but we need to see him do it for more than one day before we truly start to buy in.

 

5) Will Wily Adames figure it out in the Majors…
The Rays are giving their youngsters a chance at the highest level, and while Jake Bauers (1-2 with 2 R) is producing strong numbers Adames hasn’t quite figured it out yet.  He went 0-4 with 2 K yesterday, giving him a .200/.250/.300 slash over 40 AB.  The biggest concern is his 19 K vs. 3 BB, as he has at least 1 K in each of his eight games since returning to the Majors on June 11 and entered the day with an 11.2% SwStr%.  Considering strikeout rates of 22.8% (578 PA) and 24.9% (233 PA) at Triple-A over the past two seasons it’s not a significant surprise.  He also doesn’t bring elite power or speed at this point in his career (think 10/10 type player), so if the strikeouts are this high he’s going to hold little appeal.  Long-term there’s plenty of upside, but don’t look to depend on him in 2018.

 

6) Often overlooked, is Shin-Soo Choo among the elite…
In OBP formats he’s looking like it, though he’s been an above average producer regardless of the format.  After going 2-2 with 1 HR, 1 RBI and 2 R yesterday (while also drawing 3 walks), he’s now hitting .279 with 13 HR (and owns a .394 OBP).  He’s always been able to draw a walk at a high level (he owns a career .379 OBP), the question is if he can maintain this type of power production.  He entered the day with a 20.0% HR/FB, and while that’s above his career mark it also is right in line with what he did in ’17 (20.4%) and his low since 2015 is 17.5%.  He’s on pace to break his career high of 22 HR (which he has posted in two of the past three years) and as long as he stays healthy a .375 OBP with 25+ HR and plenty of runs scored seems like reasonable expectations.

 

7) Brandon Nimmo continues to lead the way for New York…
His home run on Sunday, helping to bring the Mets back from imminent defeat, may have been the spark the team needed.  The fact that he followed it up with a leadoff inside-the-park home run on Monday only further spurred the offense.  Nimmo finished the day going 4-6 with 2 HR, 4 RBI and 2 R, bringing him to .287 with 12 HR, 22 RBI, 35 R and 7 SB.  He has seen his strikeouts rise recently, with at least 1 K in nine straight games (2 K in five of his past six games) and he’s also gone six straight games without a walk.  That’s something we’ll have to monitor, as his plate discipline is his strongest asset, though he entered the day with a still reasonable 10.5% SwStr% and 23.0% O-Swing% in June.  Once thought to be a first round pick flop, Nimmo is finally growing into his potential and could become a 20/20 producer as soon as 2018.

 

8) Jaime Barria continues to struggle keeping the ball in the park…
Taking on the Diamondbacks Barria allowed 6 ER on 6 H and 1 BB, striking out 5, over 4.0 IP.  He allowed 2 HR, marking the third time in his past four starts that he’s allowed 2+ HR (7 HR over 20.0 IP in this stretch).  He continues to show strong control (1.96 BB/9 entering the day), but he’s lacked both strikeouts (6.97 K/9) and groundballs (39.0%) while also benefiting from a lot of luck (88.7% strand rate entering the day).  There may be a little bit of upside in the strikeout department, though home runs are going to be an issue and the luck is going to continue to regress.  It all comes together for a pitcher to avoid as the risk far outweighs the reward.

 

9) An unfortunate no-decision for Andrew Suarez…
Hunter Strickland coughed up the game in the ninth, but that shouldn’t take away from the strong performance from Suarez.  Facing the Marlins for the second straight start, Suarez allowed 2 ER on 5 H and 1 BB, striking out 7, over 6.1 IP.  When you look at his 4.70 ERA it’s easy to write him off, but when you look at the metrics entering the day there’s reason to see the upside:

  • Strikeouts – 8.49 K/9
  • Control – 1.87 BB/9
  • Groundballs – 49.0%

The problem has been a .322 BABIP and 63.4% strand rate, both of which should improve.  Yesterday’s start could be the start of a turnaround, making him an intriguing buy low target (or someone to grab off the waiver wire).

 

10) Aaron Hicks has a big day atop the lineup…
With Brett Gardner banged up Hicks was playing CF and hitting leadoff for the Yankees.  He rewarded them by going 2-5 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 2 R, putting him at .246 with 9 HR and 6 SB on the season.  When he’s been on the field he’s been productive, but finding consistent AB hasn’t been easy (he has 191 AB on the season).  He’s now homered in back-to-back games, going 4-10 with 2 HR, 3 RBI and 3 R in the process, and if he’s going to play he’s going to produce (he entered the day struggling with a .264 BABIP despite a 41.6% Hard%).  It’s easy to be distracted by the recall of Clint Frazier, but Hicks has the opportunity to seize an opportunity if Gardner is sidelined for an extended period of time.

Sources – Fangraphs, ESPN

Missed our Top 100 prospect rankings?  Make sure to check it out by clicking here.  

11 comments

  1. Josh says:

    Any thoughts on Pivetta vs Musgrove ROS? Or is it finally time to cut bait on Jon Gray who always seems to underperform compared to the underlying stats. Appreciate the help!

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      It really depends on format, but at this point I’d rank them:

      Pivetta
      Gray (he should get a hot streak at some point)
      Musgrove

  2. Tony says:

    Great call on Soto!

    I think it’s time to cut bait on Barria.
    Matz, Marco Estrada or Domingo German going forward?

  3. Barry says:

    Hello Professor,

    Should have never drafted Gallo based on the Draft Guide, but was intrigued by the 40+ HR potential. Was hoping for at least a .220+ BA and around .800 OPS and he may still get there, however I’m considering making a move. 6×6 H2H OPS

    Desmond, Gurriel, Aguilar, Bour, Thames are available or just ride it out with Gallo? I’m going to wait to the break to see what happens first.

    Thanks as always for your opinion.

  4. Nathan says:

    I’m having a tough time of understanding what to do with Scooter Gennett! He’s been pretty good the last two years! Is he going to still do really well from this point on that I need to hold onto him? I’m in second place in a 14 team OBP league 6 x 6 league. I have Severino, greinke, Carrasco, Gio, soroka, a stashed Marcus Stroman and blake Snell with an overall 3.88 era that ranks me 6th in points. Should I go after a pitcher and give up scooter for him? If so can you name me 3 guys I should look into?

    • Nathan says:

      Reason why I may want another pitcher is because I’m maybe like 60 ish innings off pace to my 1,400 league innings limit at this point into the season. Plus if I can get a good pitcher then I can stream stroman and soroka a little more in a effort to get a better era

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      I’m ok with trading him if you have a replacement and the value is there. That said, he’s hardly a must sell as, like you’ve said, he’s proven to be a highly productive 2B (and there’s every reason to think that he’ll continue to be one)

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