by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Despite striking out three times, Ronald Acuna played the hero in Yankee Stadium going 2-5 with 1 HR, 3 RBI and 1 R. Avisail Garcia went 2-4 with 1 HR, 1 RBI and 1 R, giving him 4 HR over his past seven games. Francisco Lindor had a monster day, going 2-4 with 2 HR, 7 RBI and 3 R scored, and he’s now hitting .298 with 23 HR as he emerges as one of the elite. What else happened on the field that we need to know about? Let’s dive in and break it down:
1) Ryan Borucki shines in his second MLB start…
Sure it was against the Tigers, but that doesn’t take anything away from what was an impressive outing. Going 7.0 innings Borucki allowed 2 ER on 6 H and 0 BB, striking out 8, though he had to settle for a no decision. The 24-year old southpaw had made 13 starts at Triple-A prior to his recall posting solid skills across the board:
- Strikeouts – 6.78 K/9
- Control – 3.27 BB/9
- Groundballs – 51.6%
While none of those numbers will blow you away, he did a good job yesterday generating groundballs (10 vs. 3 fly balls) and swings and misses (15). Considering his 8.0% SwStr% at Triple-A it’s hard to get overly excited, though keep in mind he owned a 13.3% SwStr% in ’17 to go along with a 2.16 BB/9 and 52.1% groundball rate. There is going to be an adjustment period, but don’t overlook the potential upside.
2) Daniel Murphy shows why we shouldn’t give up on him…
He went 2-4 with 1 HR, 1 RBI and 1 R yesterday, with the long ball being his first of the season (59 AB). Obviously it’s been a miserable start for Murphy, who didn’t make his ’18 debut until June 12, as he’s hitting just .203 with 1 HR and 7 RBI. It’s obvious that he’s still rounding into form, entering the day with a meager 16.3% Hard%, but he’s continuing to show a strong approach (10.3% strikeout rate, 6.8% SwStr%, 29.4% O-Swing%) and likely just needs a little more time before fully getting up to speed. While the injury is a concern and could potentially limit him, the upside he remains. He showed it yesterday and it’s possible that it’s just the start of things to come.
3) What should we make of Jonathan Loaisiga…
The news of his demotion following yesterday’s game is going to cause many to shy away from him, especially after he struggled and allowed 3 R on 5 H and 0 BB, striking out 3, over 4.0 IP against the Braves. Of course the Yankees could also just be using an upcoming double header (as well as the All-Star Break) to help deepen their bullpen/bench. As for Loaisiga, the biggest concern when he was recalled was his ability to work deep into games and that’s been on display (his longest start in the Majors is 5.1 innings, including starts of 4.0 and 3.2 IP). He has shown strikeouts (21 K over 18.0 IP) and groundballs (he entered the day with a 58.1% groundball rate), and while he hasn’t shown it he has strong control as well. The upside remains and while he’s likely going to be replaced via trade when he gets an opportunity there’s value (though don’t expect quality starts).
4) Luis Castillo surprises with an impressive outing…
Just when we are ready to write him off he delivers against the White Sox, allowing 1 ER on 6 H and 0 BB, striking out 6, over 6.2 IP. He had the strikeout pitch working, generating 21 swinging strikes, and also was inducing groundballs (9 groundballs vs. 5 fly balls). Of course he still owns a 5.53 ERA and 1.38 WHIP, and the White Sox have struck out the third most in the Majors (797) behind only the Padres (806) and Rangers (799). While swings and misses haven’t been a problem this season (13.6% SwStr% entering the day), he hasn’t been inducing groundballs (45.0%) and has been burned by the long ball (1.85 HR/9). There are going to be better days ahead, though his Hard% has been trending in the wrong direction (44.2% in June). He’s worth holding on to for now, but the risks aren’t disappearing off one start.
5) Is Wei-Yin Chen “back” as a viable fantasy option…
Taking on the Rays he allowed 1 R (0 earned) on 3 H and 0 BB, striking out 5, over 6.0 IP. Over his past two starts he’s allowed 1 ER over 12.0 IP, and that’s certainly going to catch people’s attention. At the same time, before we get excited just look at his split entering the day:
- Home – 2.30 ERA
- Road – 9.85 ERA
Obviously he’s unusable on the road, at least as of today, and he also hasn’t done the job generating groundballs (35.2% entering the day) and hasn’t gotten many swings and misses (8.0% SwStr% entering the day, just 9 swinging strikes yesterday). It is a nice two-start stretch, but it’s impossible to actually trust him.
6) Brad Miller continues to figure it out in Milwaukee…
Maybe he just needed a change of scenery, but after going 3-5 with 2 RBI and 2 R yesterday he’s now slashing .345/.424/.517 in nine games with the Brewers. Obviously it’s a small sample size and he’s seen his strikeout rate rise since the trade (he entered the day with a 40.7% strikeout rate, courtesy of a 17.2% SwStr%, and he struck out once yesterday). He has an opportunity to win playing time, as the Brewers have questions at both second base and shortstop, and while he appears to have provided a boost in the short-term (he was hitting atop the order) it’s impossible to expect him to continue at this pace. A career .240 hitter, he’s failed to rediscover the power he showed in 2016 (when he hit 30 HR) and he will ultimately fade. Ride him while he’s hot and then move on.
7) The days of Jakob Junis’ usability appears to be behind us…
He took it on the chin from Lindor, ultimately being charged with 9 R (8 earned) on 8 H and 1 BB, striking out 2, over 5.1 IP. To call him home run prone is an understatement, as he allowed 2 HR yesterday and has now given up 12 HR over his past five starts. Over this span he’s watched his ERA balloon from 3.62 to 5.13 and while he’s shown strong control (2.52 BB/9 entering the day), the lack of groundballs (38.9%) and swinging strikes (9.5% SwStr%) are going to loom large. Throw in a 40.3% Hard% and an 80.3% strand rate, meaning the regression could continue further, and he’s lost all viability. Hopefully you sold while you could, because he’s nothing more than waiver wire fodder today.
8) It was another strong start for Kyle Freeland…
He allowed 2 ER on 3 H and 1 BB, striking out 3, over 7.0 IP to defeat the Giants and tame Coors Field once again. He’s now allowed 2 ER or fewer in four straight starts and owns a 3.25 ERA and 1.18 WHIP over 105.1 IP on the season. While he entered the day with solid peripherals, does anything in this makeup scream of a pitcher who can thrive in any locale:
- Strikeouts – 7.41 K/9
- Control – 2.93 BB/9
- Groundballs – 49.3%
He didn’t generate many swinging strikes last night (7) nor was he a groundball machine (9 groundballs vs. 9 fly balls). Throw in an 80.5% strand rate entering the day and it further adds to the skepticism. It’s unlikely you get much for him, but consider him a sell high candidate (if possible).
9) While Carlos Martinez outpitches Robbie Ray, as the two head in different directions…
It was a tale of two vastly different performances last night:
- Carlos Martinez – 6.0 IP, 2 R, 6 H, 2 BB, 7 K
- Robbie Ray – 5.0 IP, 6 R, 9 H, 1 BB, 7 K
Martinez appears to have rediscovered himself, having allowed 4 ER on 12 H and 3 BB, striking out 15, over 12.0 IP in his past two starts. As for Ray, after looking strong in his first start off the DL this one was a debacle. The problem was a pair of home runs, and that’s a problem that’s plagued him over the past few seasons (HR/9 of 1.24 and 1.28 the past two years). That’s something he needs to overcome, but as long as he’s throwing strikes he should ultimately be fine. Obviously no one should be pushing the panic button off this one outing.
10) Nick Kingham’s return to the Majors doesn’t go as planned…
Stepping into the spot created by Chad Kuhl’s injury, Kingham was obliterated by the Dodgers allowing 7 R (5 earned) on 8 H and 3 BB, striking out 2, over 3.0 IP. He allowed 3 HR, including blasts to Cody Bellinger (2-3, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 3 R) and Max Muncy (1-5, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 3 R). Obviously it’s a frustrating performance, but let’s not overlook the success he’s had both at Triple-A (9.30 K/9, 2.37 BB/9, 46.0% strand rate) and over his first 6 starts in the Majors this season (3.82 ERA courtesy of an 8.92 K/9 and 1.78 BB/9). Home runs could be an issue, but not to this extent. It’s possible that he’s demoted and doesn’t get another opportunity, but don’t expect it. He’ll bounce back, so don’t run away now.
Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs, MLB.com
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