10 Important Stories From 06/29/18 Box Scores: Buying Opportunities (Pivetta), Potential Breakouts (Bird/Stroman) & More

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

Juan Soto had a monster game for the Nationals, going 4-6 with 2 HR, 5 RBI and 3 R.  While Patrick Corbin had to settle for a no decision, it was another strong performance as he allowed 1 ER on 4 H and 1 BB, striking out 5, over 6.0 IP against the Giants as he displayed both swinging strikes (16) and his ability to generate groundballs (9 groundballs vs. 3 fly balls).  It was a tough luck loss for Trevor Bauer, who allowed 2 ER on 6 H and 1 BB, striking out 8, over 6.2 IP against the A’s.  What else happened on the field that we need to know about?  Let’s dive in and look:


1) Jose Berrios takes it on the chin against the Cubs…
Lasting just 4.1 IP Berrios allowed 6 ER on 6 H and 4 BB, striking out 2.  It breaks a stretch of sour straight starts having allowed 2 ER or fewer (something he had also done in seven of his past eight).  In that regard it’s tough to hold it against him, but he also allowed a pair of home runs with Jason Heyward (2-4, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 R) and Addison Russell (1-4, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 1 R) taking him deep.  Berrios has now allowed 14 HR on the season, having entered the day with a 39.8% groundball rate (6 groundballs vs. 5 fly balls yesterday), and that’s a red flag that looms large.  On most days he has the control and swing and miss stuff to overcome the issue, so no one is going to say to jump ship, just know that there will be days like this and if the matchup/ballpark is home run heavy it may make sense to sit him down.


2) Greg Bird helps to lead the Yankees home run barrage…
They totaled to hit 4 HR with a lot of the damage coming against Eduardo Rodriguez (6.0 IP, 5 ER, 7 H, 2 BB, 2 K), who has now allowed 9 ER over his past 10.0 IP.  Miguel Andujar (3-4, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 R) and Aaron Judge (1-4, 1 HR, 2 RBI,1 R) joined him, but it was Bird’s day that is most notable.  With Brandon Drury now in the mix he could stand to lose significant playing time, so the timing of his 2-4 with 2 HR, 2 RBI and 2 R day is critical.  He entered the day hitting .191 with 3 HR over 104 PA, though he hadn’t been popping the ball up (0.00% IFFB) and had shown a strong approach (career best 10.7% SwStr%, as well as a 25.2% O-Swing%).  It seemed like just a matter of time before he turned things around, and perhaps the promotion of Drury gave him the push necessary.


3) It was an awful day for Nick Pivetta and the Phillies, creating a buying opportunity…
Washington ultimately launched 7 HR (including three against former closer Hector Neris) for 17 runs, with Pivetta taking a lot of the damage.  He ultimately lasted just 1.2 innings allowing 7 ER on 7 H and 2 BB, striking out 2, allowing 3 HR.  While it’s just one start, he’s now allowed at least 1 HR in five straight starts (8 HR over 19.0 IP).  That said it’s also been a recent phenomenon, as he entered the day with a 1.07 HR/9 and 43.1% groundball rate.  Home runs could be an issue, especially at home, but we shouldn’t expect this type of trend to continue (especially since he entered the day with a 48.6% groundball rate in June).  Couple the improvement there with both strikeouts (10.78 K/9) and control (2.56 BB/9) and now is the ideal time to go out and try to buy low.  He has value and should yield better results moving forward.


4) Marcus Stroman shows signs of a turnaround…
Taking on the Tigers he tossed 7.0 strong innings, allowing 2 ER on 5 H and 0 BB, striking out 4.  The key underlying metrics were both there, as he generated enough swings and misses (14) and was getting hitters to bury the ball into the ground (12 groundballs vs. 5 fly balls).  While he still owns a 6.20 ERA and 1.54 WHIP in his 9 starts, the biggest issues were his control (4.04 BB/9) and poor luck (.346 BABIP, 57.8% strand rate) entering the day.  Control had never been a problem before, and he now has 1 BB over 12.0 IP in his two starts since coming off the DL (and even before he went down he had been showing off better stuff, with 4 BB over 17.1 IP).  As for the luck it was only a matter of time before it turned, and while it’s hard to trust him against teams like the Yankees and Red Sox the value is going to be there overall.  If you can still grab him on the cheap, don’t hesitate to do so.


5) Can Keon Broxton force his way into the Brewers lineup…
He appears primed to get a chance in the short-term, with Christian Yelich, Lorenzo Cain and Ryan Braun all banged up.  Of course when everyone is healthy the team is already trying to find AB for those three outfielders, as well as Eric Thames and Jesus Aguilar, so it’s going to be tough.  That said Broxton could be an ideal trade deadline candidate, and he helped his stock yesterday going 3-4 with 2 HR, 4 RBI, 3 R and 1 SB.  For a player who hit 20 HR with 21 SB in the Majors last season (and had 9 HR and 24 SB in 295 PA at Triple-A in ’18), no one is about to question his power/speed combination.  The problem has always been his ability to make consistent contact, and considering a 35.6% strikeout rate courtesy of an 18.0% SwStr% at Triple-A it’s hard to say that he’s taken any step at correcting the issue.  It was a nice game, but if he’s playing regularly he’ll ultimately be exposed.


6) It was a strong 2018 debut for Sandy Alcantara…
Of course it was against the slumping Mets, but he still got the W allowing 1 ER on 3 H over 5.0 IP.  At the same time he struggled with his control (5 BB) and wasn’t getting swings and misses (8 swinging strikes, leading to just 2 K).  As we talked about yesterday on our Prospect Page (click here for the article) both of those issues have been seen in recent seasons, as his strikeout rate has slowed as he’s progressed (7.6 K/9 at Double-A, 6.8 K/9 at Triple) and he’s never brought strong control (3.7 BB/9 over his minor league career).  Pitching for one of the worst teams in baseball, will those types of numbers bring strong results?  It’s hard to buy into, and while his name may carry value he’s not a player to invest in for 2018.


7) The implosion of Dylan Covey continues…
Taking on the Rangers he ultimately allowed 4 HR, leading to 9 R (8 earned) on 8 H and 3 BB, striking out 0, over 2.1 IP.  It continues an ugly trend, as he’s now allowed 16 ER over his past three starts (11.1 IP) raising his ERA from 2.29 all the way to 4.82.  While he’s shown an elite groundball rate this season (60.0% entering the day), he hasn’t paired it with big strikeout stuff (7.31 K/9) or good control (4.06 BB/9), so while yesterday’s home run barrage isn’t indicative of his skillset the fact that he’s going to wrong way shouldn’t come as a surprise.  With his 7.4% SwStr% and 27.7% O-Swing%, there’s little reason to have hope or give much upside appeal moving forward.  If you do own him, move on.


8) Marco Gonzales goes the distance against KC…
He allowed 1 R on 6 H and 0 BB, striking out 7, needing just 96 pitches to go the distance.  Those numbers alone are impressive, but when you look at the underlying statistics things look even better:

  • Swinging Strikes – 17
  • Groundballs – 15 (compared to 4 fly balls)

Control has always been his best asset, and while those other skills were strong last night it’s very possible that it was more indicative of his opponent then his actual skillset.  Gonzales entered the day with a 45.1% groundballs rate (43.2% in 168.2 IP in the Majors) and 8.8% SwStr% (9.0% for his career), so it’s hard to get overly excited.  It was a nice outing and he’s going to hold value, but he remains more of a backend option.


9) A strong performance from Rich Hill in defeat…
He was outpitched by Tyler Anderson (8.0 IP, 0 R, 4 H, 1 BB, 8 K), but Hill was strong allowing 1 R on 6 H and 0 BB, striking out 10, over 6.2 IP.  He made one mistake, as Pat Valaika (1-3, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R) took him deep, but he was clearly on his game.  Skill has never been the question, it’s a matter of if he can stay healthy and take the ball every five days.  He’s thrown just 42.1 innings on the season, and he entered the day having been hit hard (43.9% Hard%) and giving up a lot of home runs (2.02 HR/9).  The former should correct itself, but the latter isn’t a guarantee (1.19 HR/9 in ’17, groundball rates of 36.9% and 32.4% the past two years).  That adds another risk, but he’s still worth utilizing while he’s on the mound.


10) Joe Musgrove shines against the Padres…
Sure the opponent and locale were favorable but that shouldn’t take away from Musgrove’s performance.  He tossed 7.0 shutout innings allowing 7 H and 2 BB, striking out 5, in a performance he needed after allowing 11 ER over 8.1 IP in his previous two starts (both of which had come at home).  He actually has an intriguing split thus far:

  • Home – 4.94 ERA
  • Road – 1.38 ERA

Of course he’s thrown 13.0 innings away from home, so it’s not enough of a sample size, and a lot of his “struggles” have come solely due to poor luck (.343 BABIP, 67.7% strand rate entering the day).  Look for things to continue to improve and consider him worth owning in most formats.

Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs

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


  1. Suave says:

    Is Chase Anderson back? Should I pick up Chase over Godley or or Pivetta? Thinking of dropping L. Castillo.

  2. JC says:

    Need some SB help, thinking of dropping Gardner or Teoscar.

    Not a whole lot of options out there:
    Rajai Davis

    Worth a flier on Broxton to see how it turns out? Or is he just going to strike out too much?

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