10 Important Stories From 06/22/18 Box Scores: Are We Buying These Bounce Backs (J. Gray/Castillo), Young Starter Considerations (Bieber/Romero) & More

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

Odubel Herrera just keeps on raking, going 4-5 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 4 R, extending his home run streak to five games (and six of his past seven).  Patrick Corbin had the performance of the night, though settled for a no decision, as he tossed 7.0 shutout innings allowing just 3 H and 0 BB while striking out 12 (and generating a whopping 25 swinging strikes).  The Red Sox and Mariners combined for 24 runs, with Nelson Cruz (4-5, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 2 R) and J.D. Martinez (4-5, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 3 R) leading their respective teams.


1) Franklin Barreto erupts in Game 1 of the A’s double header…
While he went 0-4 in the night cap, he had the best day of his young career in the first game as he finished going 2-4 with 2 HR, 6 RBI and 2 R.  Of course the second game is more indicative of what he’s done when getting an opportunity in the Majors, as he’s now hitting .185 over 27 AB in ’18 (after hitting .197 in 71 AB in ’17).  Sure he’s shown some power (he has 5 hits in the Majors this season and three of them have left the park), but strikeouts continue to plague him.  Considering these numbers over the past two years (entering play yesterday), how can we expect anything to change (strikeout rate at Triple-A // strikeout rate in the Majors):

  • 2017 – 27.6% // 43.4%
  • 2018 – 31.9% // 50.0%

If he’s not going to make contact it doesn’t matter, so while it was a nice performance it’s easy to ignore him.


2) Tanner Roark takes one on the chin…
The Nationals are banged up in the rotation so they need their healthy starters to deliver.  Roark failed yesterday, lasting just 4.1 innings and allowing 6 ER on 7 H and 4 BB, striking out 7.  He allowed 1 HR (the Phillies ultimately hit three in the game) as he struggled to throw strikes (68 of 113 pitches were strikes) and didn’t generate groundballs (2 groundballs vs. 4 fly balls).  It’s the second straight terrible start for Roark, who has allowed 10 ER over his past 8.1 IP, as he’s now allowed at least 1 HR in each of his past five appearances (6 HR over 20.2 IP).  He entered the day with a 44.0% groundball rate and 12.9% HR/FB, both reasonable numbers, and a .256 BABIP that could easily continue to regress.  Throw in an 8.9% SwStr% and 29.4% O-Swing% and what are we hanging our hats on?  He’s a backend starter who will likely post an ERA in the 4.25 range, so don’t consider him as anything more than that.


3) Both Wade LeBlanc and Steven Wright have epic regressions…
In a matchup of two of the hotter pitchers in baseball, both pitchers put up some ugly lines last night:

  • Wade LeBlanc – 4.2 IP, 6 ER, 11 H, 1 BB, 2 K
  • Steven Wright – 3.1 IP, 10 ER, 10 H, 2 BB, 3 K

Wright was done in by 3 HR, though at the end of the day is anyone surprised that either of them regressed?  They’ve been nice stories but were always risks to implode like this.  Maybe they bounce back, but neither should be considered more than a streaming option moving forward (and neither are locked into a rotation spot either).


4) Shane Bieber flashes his potential…
Of course it was against the Tigers, but he still tossed 7.0 shutout innings allowing 4 H and 1 BB, striking out 9.  He had the Tigers off balance all night, as he generated 18 swings and misses and had the Tigers driving the ball into the ground (8 groundballs vs. 4 fly balls).  In his two starts since returning to the Majors he’s allowed 1 ER over 12.2 IP to go along with 16 K vs. 2 BB.  He’s not an elite groundball artist, but these numbers reflect what he had done at both Double and Triple-A prior to his recall, as he posted an 8.45 K/9 and 0.70 BB/9.  He’s going to provide extremely good control and enough strikeouts (he had an 11.7% SwStr% in the minors, though he’s not considered an overpowering type starter) and groundballs to hold value.  While he may not be elite, he’s going to be a viable option in most formats.


5) While Luis Castillo got the W, it doesn’t change the outlook…
It was a matchup in disappointing starters as he defeated Jose Quintana (5.0 IP, 4 ER, 9 H, 2 BB, 3 K).  While Castillo walked away with the win, does giving up 3 ER over 5.2 IP really excite anyone?  He did provide a solid WHIP (4 H and 1 BB), but he wasn’t getting swings and misses (8) and he allowed another HR (he’s now allowed HR in six straight games and 18 HR over 83.2 IP overall).  While he entered the day with a 68.0% strand rate and has looked significantly better in the strikeout department (14.0% SwStr%), if he can’t keep the ball in the ballpark none of it is going to matter.  His 21.3% HR/FB isn’t that far off from last year’s 17.2%, and he also has struggled to generate groundballs (43.7%).  He should be better than that (58.8% groundball rate in ’17), but for now he needs to be stashed on your bench until he shows signs of a turnaround.


6) Did Alex Cobb re-earn our trust…
Taking on the Braves, in Atlanta, he pitched well allowing 1 ER on 4 H and 2 BB, striking out 6, over 7.0 IP.  Of course he had allowed 14 ER over his previous two starts (10.2 IP) as he had been done in by the long ball (4 HR).  He kept the ball in the ballpark yesterday, which is one of his biggest keys to success.  As it is he entered the day showing good control (2.29 BB/9), significant upside in his luck metrics (59.5% strand rate, .364 BABIP) and the skills for a much better home run rate (1.86 HR/9, despite a 50.2% groundball rate).  Obviously the lack of strikeouts is going to limit him (6.14 K/9) and his home ballpark would make us think twice about using him.  Still there’s enough upside that he could return to being a solid play, and for now is worth utilizing as a streaming option.


7) Jesus Aguilar provides all the offense the Brewers need…
They had three hits as a team, but Aguilar had two of them and both left the yard.  He finished going 2-4 with 2 HR, 2 RBI and 2 R, including a walk-off shot against Bud Norris, and is now hitting .305 with 16 HR and 49 RBI on the season.  While it’s been hard to count on his playing time since the return of Eric Thames, Aguilar has remained productive and continues to show that he needs to be in the lineup every day.  While he entered the day with a .341 BABIP, before we call it unrealistic he had a .337 mark in ’17 and has been hitting the ball extremely hard (44.8% Hard%).  He’s also cut down on his swings and misses (12.3% SwStr%) and his 21.2% HR/FB is believable as well.  There’s nothing not to like, and there’s a good chance he’s in the lineup on most days going forward (with Ryan Braun and Thames losing AB).


8) Is it time to give up on Fernando Romero…
On May 25 he owned a 1.88 ERA, but after his past five starts he’s up to 4.38.  Yesterday he allowed 4 ER on 4 H and 2 BB, striking out 4, over 6.0 IP against the Rangers and has an uninspiring 1.34 WHIP.  He’s a rookie pitcher so we have to expect some inconsistencies.  Obviously last night wasn’t a terrible performance, but he’s struggled to generate strikeouts overall (5 K or fewer in six of his past seven starts) and hasn’t been generating enough groundballs (45.6% entering the day, 6 groundballs vs. 8 fly balls yesterday).  The latter wasn’t an issue coming up through the minors and you would think he is going to figure it out, and entering the day with an 11.1% SwStr% you also have to think that more strikeouts are on the horizon.  While there are going to be some ups and downs, this isn’t the time to write off Romero and give up on him.


9) A strong rebound for Danny Duffy, kind of…
He tossed 6.0 shutout innings against the Astros, allowing 2 H and striking out 7.  That all seems positive, but he also walked 4 batters and now has 3+ BB in five straight starts (17 BB over 30.0 IP).  He entered the day with a 4.35 BB/9 and while he was better yesterday (7 groundballs vs. 4 fly balls) his 30.5% groundball rate obviously helps lead us to believe that home runs are going to be a consistent problem (1.85 HR/9).  Throw in a declining SwStr% (9.5%, after years of 12.9% and 11.4%, with 13 swinging strikes yesterday) and even with this performance it’s hard to get excited.  He is better than his numbers this season and maybe he’s figured something out, but we wouldn’t jump all in immediately.  Is he worth stashing?  Absolutely, but do so with your eyes open and see how he follows this up.


10) Jon Gray brings the strikeout stuff, but are we buying…
It was against the Marlins, but it was in Coors Field so it does make Gray’s performance that much more impressive.  Going 7.0 IP he allowed just 1 R on 8 H and 0 BB, striking out 12, to earn the W.  He showed the skills we look for, including 19 swinging strikes and 6 groundballs (compared to 3 fly balls), so now the question is if he can carry this over into his next few starts.  Considering that he entered the day with an 11.11 K/9, 3.00 BB/9 and hadn’t been hurt by home runs (1.00 HR/9), it’s easy to imagine.  He has carried too high of a line drive rate (25.6%), but his .375 BABIP and 61.2% strand rate help to support the rebound.  Maybe he’s not quite this good, but he’s going to continue to improve and should be a solid option moving forward.


Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs

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


  1. Trevor says:

    Need to drop 2 of this group to activate dl players- Castillo, Caleb Smith, junis, Luke weaver, Chase Anderson and Gsellman.

  2. Sauve says:

    Acuna or Aguilar ROS? Have to make a choice.

  3. JC says:

    What do you think about Hamilton for Aguilar? No keepers.

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