10 Important Stories From 06/25/18 Box Scores: Heating Up Hitters (Albies/Margot), Skeptical Starters (G. Gonzalez/S. Miller) & More

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

Blake Snell had the performance of the night, dominating the Nationals as he fired 7.0 shutout innings allowing just 1 H and 4 BB, striking out 10 (courtesy of an impressive 23 swinging strikes).  Felix Hernandez continued to reinvent himself, defeating the Orioles as he allowed 3 ER on 4 H and 3 BB, striking out 4, over 6.0 IP.  Justin Verlander didn’t have his best stuff, allowing 4 ER on 7 H and 2 BB, striking out 6, over 6.2 IP in a losing effort.  What else happened on the field that we need to know about?  Let’s dive in:

 

1) Is it time to buy into Stephen Piscotty…
He went 3-5 with 1 HR, 1 RBI and 2 R yesterday, adding a double (he now has doubles in three straight games) and giving him a modest three-game hitting streak (6-12, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 4 R).  The overall numbers aren’t impressive, hitting .256 with 7 HR and 33 RBI, and it’s fair to question the approach he brings to the plate (he entered the day with a 12.7% SwStr% and 34.7% O-Swing%).  He also was hitting the ball hard (40.0% Hard%) and should improve upon his .296 BABIP, while also chipping in some power (he hit 22 HR in ’16 and entered the day with a 10.0% HR/FB).  While he’s not necessarily a must grab player, those in five-outfielder formats can look towards him as a short-term plug-in (if not more).

 

2) Does a dominant Brad Keller warrant our attention…
Taking on the Angels Keller was involved in a surprising pitcher’s duel, as he and Tyler Skaggs squared off in an impressive battle:

  • Tyler Skaggs – 7.0 IP, 1 ER, 7 H, 2 BB, 8 K
  • Brad Keller – 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 H, 2 BB, 6 K

It was Keller who emerged victorious, as he was a groundball machine (14 groundballs vs. 1 fly ball) and showed more than enough in both his control and strikeout stuff (12 swinging strikes).  He has spent a lot of time pitching out of the bullpen this season (5 starts, 21 relief appearances), though he did enter the day with a 56.6% groundball rate.  Of course he also hasn’t shown much in his strikeouts (5.27 K/9) or control (3.51 BB/9), nearly mirroring the numbers from Double-A a year ago (7.65 and 3.93, respectively).  Sure it was an impressive performance, but don’t get too excited.

 

3) An impressive outing for the Yankees’ Jonathan Loaisiga…
Taking on the Phillies, in Philadelphia, Loaisiga tossed 5.1 shutout innings allowing just 1 H and 2 BB, striking out 8.  It was a great bounce back after he struggled in his previous outing (3 ER over 3.2 IP against the Mariners) and the underlying metrics support the performance:

  • Swinging Strikes – 15
  • Groundballs – 6 (compared to 2 fly balls)

He has struggled with his control in the Majors (8 BB over 14.0 IP) and the team continues to handle him with kid gloves in terms of how deep into a game he’s allowed to pitch.  He hasn’t thrown more than 91 pitches in a start all year (including his time in the minors), and that could make it difficult to even go 5.0 innings and qualify for a W.  There’s value, but that could ultimately limit him.

 

4) Jameson Taillon tames the New York Mets…
Of course that’s not saying much these days, but that shouldn’t take away from a strong performance as he allowed 2 ER on 4 H and 3 BB, striking out 5, over 6.0 IP.  That lowered his ERA to 3.96, and while he wasn’t getting swings and misses (9 swinging strikes) or generating groundballs (5 groundballs vs. 8 fly balls) last night, that hasn’t been an issue this season and he entered the day with strikeouts (8.49 K/9 courtesy of a 9.7% SwStr%, though this could regress a little bit), control (2.40 BB/9) and groundballs (51.1%).  The real key is avoiding home runs (1.09 HR/9), something he hadn’t been doing of late (he had allowed a home run in three straight entering the day).  Given the skills, he’s well worth owning in all formats.

 

5) Unsurprisingly, Shelby Miller struggles in his return…
He lasted just 3.2 innings (85 pitches) allowing 5 ER on 6 H and 2 BB, striking out 5, against the Miami Marlins.  The matchup may have seemed appealing, but as we’ve noted before we have to remember that Miller isn’t likely to be the same pitcher he was when he put himself on the map back in 2015.  This was the first time he stepped on an MLB mound since April 23, 2017 and the last time he had an extended run (101.0 IP in ’16) he posted an ugly 6.15 ERA.  He’s not as bad as that, but at the end of the day he’s had an extended layoff and has never really shown impressive strikeout (7.38 K/9 for his career), control (3.36) or groundballs (42.3%).  Don’t think of that one season and think he’s going to be a significant difference maker, he’s more of a streaming option (and we need to see him succeed before trusting him in that role).

 

6) The falloff of Gio Gonzalez continued…
We’ve talked about a potential regression for Gio Gonzalez for some time, but it looks like we are now getting it.  In what seemed like a favorable matchup, Gonzalez allowed 6 ER on 3 H and 5 BB, striking out 2, in just 1.0 IP against the Rays.  Suddenly he’s been pummeled by the long ball, allowing at least 1 HR in five straight starts (6 HR) and in seven of his past eight starts.  Over 21.1 IP in June he’s now allowed 20 ER on 28 H and 11 BB, taking his ERA from 2.10 to 3.68 and he now owns an ugly 1.42 WHIP.  Considering he entered the day with an 80.7% strand rate, is it impossible to think that things could continue to go south?  He has been generating enough strikeouts (8.50 K/9) and groundballs (50.4%), though the former is bloated by a strong start (he had K/9 of 7.63 in May and entered yesterday with a 7.52 in June) and the groundball rate has been regressing as well (43.9% in June).  He’s better than this, but his current ERA is far more realistic so value him accordingly.

 

7) Ozzie Albies continues to rebound and post big performances…
He went 3-6 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 2 R, giving him four straight multi-hit games and a seven-game hitting streak overall (15-33 with 1 HR, 5 RBI, 7 R and 1 SB).  Over this streak he has just 3 K vs. 1 BB, though the lack of walks (5.1% entering the day) and continually chasing outside the strike zone (37.2% O-Swing%) are going to continue to hang over him.  He obviously has shown growth in his power (17 HR, entering the day with a 14.7% HR/FB), he makes not only contact (16.7% strikeout rate) but hard contact (37.0% Hard%) and there’s no questioning his speed.  He may not be an ideal player in OBP due to the lack of walks, and he may not be the player he showed early, but there’s no questioning the value and potential.

 

8) Has Manuel Margot finally turned the corner…
He went 1-5 with 1 HR, 3 RBI and 1 R yesterday, giving him home runs in back-to-back games and extending his hitting streak to six games (10-22 with 2 HR, 6 RBI and 5 R).  Impressively he has 0 K vs. 3 BB over this stretch, though plate discipline hasn’t been the concern (9.5% SwStr%, 27.0% O-Swing% entering the day).  He’s also hit the ball hard (36.9% Hard%) and is putting it on the ground (49.7% groundball rate) and trying to use his speed.  He’s better than his current .249 average, and you would think that he’d be able to steal more bases than he has (6-for-12 in SB thus far in ’18).  Throw in a little bit of power (think 10/20 type player) and there’s a lot to like.  With speed down across the game, if someone in your league gave up on him he’s well worth grabbing.

 

9) John Gant steps into St. Louis’ rotation and impresses…
With Michael Wacha on the DL it was Gant who got the first chance to fill the void and delivered 7.0 shutout innings against the Indians, allowing 1 H and 5 BB while striking out 4 against the Cleveland Indians.  Obviously the walks jump out, and entering the day with a 3.83 BB/9 over 94.0 IP in the Majors over the course of his career it’s something that’s consistently been an issue.  Of course he also was at 2.94 over 49.0 IP at Triple-A prior to his recall, he’s shown strikeouts at Triple-A each of the past two seasons (K/9 of 8.62 and 7.71) and he’s generated enough groundballs.  While there’s going to be some bumps along the way, Gant at least has the ability to be a useful streaming option when the matchup calls for it.

 

10) A stellar performance from Kenta Maeda…
Maeda had been struggling to generate strikeouts since coming off the DL (3 K vs. 8 BB over 8.2 IP in two starts), but he put all of the concerns to rest after tossing 7.0 shutout innings allowing 3 H and 1 BB, striking out 9, to defeat the Chicago Cubs.  The stumbles are likely tied to the time off, as strikeouts and control shouldn’t be an issue.  The problem could be home runs (he entered the day with a 37.0% groundball rate and had 5 groundballs vs. 6 fly balls yesterday), so keep that in mind.  That’s not going to make him unusable by any stretch, it just means that we may need to be cautious with the matchups.

 

Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs, MILB.com

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

8 comments

  1. Frederic Kass says:

    You prefer Margot to Nimmo ROS?

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      I like both, but I’d lean Nimmo. He has more guaranteed playing time, is locked in atop the order and has proven to have a little bit more power

  2. NH says:

    Ryu is available in my league. Would you pick him and stash him on the bench or try to trade him?

  3. GC says:

    Hi Professor,

    Do you dig Greg Bird or Jake Bauers ROS in a 12-team, 5-category keeper league?
    Thanks in advance, Professor.

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      Bird has the higher upside, especially in the HR department. Bauers has been impressive and is a nice piece, but if Bird figures it out he’s the better choice

  4. How likely is Jonathan Loaisiga staying in the rotation and take German’s spot when Tanaka returns?

    Any thoughts on the return of Ervin Santana?

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      I would call it a 50/50 proposition, but there are more questions regarding Loaisiga’s usage and how many innings he’ll be allowed to go. Plus, these situations tend to work themselves out so for now I would hold both youngsters and see what happens.

      As for Santana, never been a fan and it’s impossible to trust him

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