10 Important Stories From 06/28/18 Box Scores: Handling Concerning Starters (J. Gray/Roark/Manaea), Breakout Bats (Winker/Muncy) & More

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

Clayton Kershaw is quickly rounding back into form, allowing 1 R on 4 H and 0 BB, striking out 6, over 5.0 IP in his second outing since returning (he threw just 68 pitches) though the same can’t be said for Walker Buehler (he allowed 5 ER on 5 H and 1 BB in 1.0 IP in his first appearance off the DL).  D.J. LeMahieu helped to carry the Rockies, including a go ahead two-run home run in the ninth, finishing the day at 3-4 with 1 HR, 5 RBI and 1 R.  Aaron Nola dominated the Nationals, allowing 1 ER on 5 H and 2 BB, striking out 8, over 7.2 IP to earn the W.  What else happened on the field that we need to know about?  Let’s dive in and take a look:


1) Zack Greinke does it all en route to beating the Marlins…
Obviously what he did at the plate doesn’t mean much for fantasy owners, but he went 2-3 with 1 RBI, 1 R and 1 SB.  More importantly he tossed 7.0 shutout innings allowing 7 H and 0 BB, striking out 6, to improve to 8-5 with a 3.41 ERA.  He’s now tossed 13.0 shutout innings over his past two starts, including 0 BB, and overall has 108 K vs. 19 BB over 103.0 IP.  There is some concern with home runs (he entered the day with a 1.50 HR/9), but given these metrics entering the day it’s hard not to be onboard:

  • Strikeouts – 9.56 K/9
  • Walks – 1.78 BB/9
  • Groundballs – 42.2%

We’ll have to watch that closely, and his 79.9% strand rate could regress.  That may keep him from ultimately being a Top 20-25 type starter, but he’s going to hold value regardless.


2) While Sean Manaea got the W, there are obvious concerns…
Taking on the Tigers he allowed 2 ER on 5 H and 1 BB, striking out 2, over 6.0 IP as he made one mistake to Nicholas Castellanos (2-4, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 R).  Of course, when you look at these underlying metrics it’s hard to expect the good times to continue:

  • Swinging Strikes – 4
  • Groundballs – 6 (compared to 10 fly balls)

He did enter the day with an overall 10.1% SwStr%, though it was down to 9.6% in June, as well as a 43.4% groundball rate.  As it is he had just a 6.71 K/9 entering the day, and with the risk of home runs (especially on the road) Manaea may best be viewed as a streaming starter to keep on your bench as the lack of strikeouts are going to cap his value.


3) Nelson Cruz returns to the Seattle lineup with a bang…
After missing two games with a back issue, Cruz returned to the lineup and didn’t miss a beat by going 3-5 with 1 HR, 3 RBI and 1 R.  He’s now hitting .277 with 21 HR and 51 RBI, and those who were concerned about his age entering the year have clearly missed out.  Entering the day with a 24.7% HR/FB there’s no reason to think he can’t maintain this pace (he’s been at 20.4% or better every year since 2013, including a 30.3% mark in ’15).  There’s also even more upside in his average, considering his .266 BABIP and 42.5% Hard%.  While his time of productivity won’t last forever and he’s limited to your U in most formats, there’s little question that he’s one of the better options in the league.


4) Will Max Muncy ever slow down…
Obviously the Cubs offense deserves attention, putting up 11 R on 15 H, but it’s Muncy who grabbed the spotlight.  He finished the day going 2-3 with 1 HR, 1 RBI and 1 R, his second straight game with a home run (and fourth in his past six games).  He’s now hitting .266 over 169 AB, but the bigger story is his 17 HR.  He’s clearly tying to hit for power, entering with a 45.7% fly ball rate, but can we reasonably expect him to maintain his 30.2% HR/FB?  He does bring a good approach (7.4% SwStr%, 18.9% O-Swing%) and has hit the ball extremely hard (46.2% Hard%), so his average should rise to help to offset the power regression.  That’s going to keep him on the map and make him a viable option, but if your sole objective is power selling high makes sense (and if you can get enough value selling high makes sense regardless).


5) Jake Odorizzi finds his footing against the White Sox…
Maybe the opponent had something to do with his success, as he threw 6.0 shutout innings allowing 3 H and 3 BB, striking out 8.  Of course he’s still walked 3+ batters in three of his past four starts, and while he owns a solid strikeout rate (9.04 K/9) his 4.07 BB/9 and 26.1% groundball rate entering the day doesn’t elicit much optimism.  He surprisingly has now gone five straight starts without allowing a home run, though it’s not like his 35.3% groundball rate (or 31.4% line drive rate) in June supports that improvement.  It was a nice start, but don’t put much stock in it.  His 4.62 ERA and 1.44 WHIP are legitimate and it’s hard to invest heavily moving forward.


6) Has the time come to give up on Jon Gray…
We keep holding out hope but the results simply haven’t been there.  Taking on the Giants, in San Francisco, Gray was touched up for 5 ER on 7 H and 2 BB, striking out 7, over 4.0 IP to see his ERA rise to an unsightly 5.77.  He’s now allowed 4+ ER in seven of his past nine starts (and 3+ ER in eight of the nine), though what’s interesting is that the skills don’t appear that poor (entering the day):

  • Strikeouts – 11.45 K/9
  • Control – 2.76 BB/9
  • Groundballs – 46.3%

He did have a 25.4% line drive rate, though we’d still expect better than a .379 BABIP and 63.8% strand rate.  It’s impossible to trust him as of today, but we’d still be in favor of keeping him stashed on your bench and waiting for him to right the ship.


7) Jaime Barria pitches well, but is saddled with a loss…
Taking on the Red Sox he allowed 2 ER on 4 H and 2 BB, striking out 4, over 5.1 IP making one big mistake (a home run to Rafael Devers, who finished going 1-3 with 1 HR, 1 RBI and 1 R).  While Barria has only had a handful of “poor” starts, allowing 2 ER or fewer in nine of his 11 starts in the Majors, HR have posed a big issue.  He’s allowed at least 1 HR in each of his past four starts (6 HR over 19.1 IP) and 9 HR over his past six starts.  He entered the day with a 38.5% fly ball rate (after posting 29.3% and 26.9% marks at Triple-A over the past two years), which is obviously going to limit his potential upside.  He has  shown an ability to get some strikeouts as well as limit the walks, but the HR coupled with an elevated Hard% (39.6% entering the day) makes him a risky proposition.  Nice start, but he’s more of a streaming option when the matchup is right.


8) Tanner Roark with a strong bounce back performance, kind of…
With owners starting to write him off Roark delivered a strong performance, though he was outpitched by Aaron Nola, allowing 2 R (1 earned) on 7 H and 3 BB, striking out 5, over 6.0 IP.  Of course you could argue that he was a bit lucky to get out with only 2 R allowed considering the number of base runners he allowed.  He wraps up June having allowed 36 H and 12 BB over 26.2 IP, so that clearly has been a significant issue.  He’s also been hit hard this month (26.0% line drive rate entering the day), helping lead to a .343 BABIP, and when coupled with the control issues and home runs (6 HR allowed) and it’s easy to diagnosis the issues.  You could easily argue that this month has simply representing a correction in the numbers, as there’s nothing the stands out in his overall metrics as unsustainable.  As long as your viewing him as a 4.00-4.25 ERA type pitcher there’s nothing wrong with the investment, just pick your spots and know what you are getting.


9) Is Jesse Winker emerging before our eyes…
The Reds fell to the Brewers, who received another home run from Jesus Aguilar (3-4, 1 HR, 2 RBI and 1 R, giving him HR in three straight games and 19 HR on the year), but it wasn’t due to Winker.  He finished going 2-3 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 1 R, giving him 3 HR over his past 21 AB (9-21, 3 HR, 12 RBI, 4 R).  He’s never been known for his power, though entering the day with an 8.1% HR/FB and not yet turning 25-years old (he’ll turn 25 in August) it’s easy to buy into the power growth.  More important is that he’s paired it with a continued strong approach (entering the day):

  • Strikeout Rate – 14.1%
  • Walk Rate – 14.9%
  • Hard% – 41.3%

He doesn’t swing and miss much (6.1% SwStr%), he doesn’t chase outside the strike zone (22.3% O-Swing%) and he hits the ball hard.  Couple that with the potential that the power is growing and it’s easy to get excited.  Consider him worth buying in most formats, especially as he could move up in the lineup and really make an impact.


10) Lance McCullers shuts down the Rays…
It was a strong start, tossing 7.0 shutout innings allowing 3 H and 2 BB, striking out 7.  He had the swing and miss pitch working (21) while he also was generating ample groundballs (13 groundballs vs. 1 fly ball).  He now owns a 3.55 ERA and 1.15 WHIP over 101.1 IP, bringing both strikeouts (106) and strong control (38 BB).  He also entered the day with a 53.0% groundball rate, potentially giving him the total package.  While he may not be viewed as a potentially elite starter, he brings the skills to get there in short order.


Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs

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  1. GW says:

    I have 4 players for 2 roster spots. Jesse Winker, Manuel Margot, Hernandez and Randal Grichuk. Which 2 players should I target?

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