10 Important Stories From 07/06/18 Box Scores: Can We Trust Young SP (Peralta/Rodriguez), Potential Rebound Candidates (Gray/Godley) & More

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

It was another lackluster performance from Gio Gonzalez, who allowed 2 ER on 8 H and 4 BB, striking out 4, over 5.0 IP (13 BB over his past 11.0 IP and now owns a 1.47 WHIP).  Jacob deGrom was fantastic yet again (8.0 IP, 1 R, 4 H, 1 BB, 8 K) though ultimately settled for another tough luck no decision.  Chris Sale dominated the Royals, allowing 1 ER on 5 H and 1 BB, striking out 12, over 6.0 IP to earn the W.  What else happened on the field that we need to know about?  Let’s dive in and look:


1) It’s back to reality for Tyler Mahle…
After striking out 12 over 5.2 IP against the Brewers in his previous outing Mahle returned to normalcy against the Cubs.  That doesn’t mean it was a bad outing, far from it, as he allowed 1 ER on 5 H and 2 BB, striking out 4, over 6.2 IP to earn the W.  The fact is he doesn’t offer quite that type of strikeout stuff, though he did enter the day with a 10.8% SwStr% and could maintain about a strikeout per inning (9.13 K/9 entering this start).  The problem is what other skill does he bring?  He owned a 3.83 BB/9 and 38.6% groundball rate, and he also has benefited from luck (.305 BABIP, 81.2% strand rate despite a 25.1% line drive rate).  There’s simply not enough here to invest in barring some type of change in at least one, if not two, skills.


2) Is Jordan Zimmermann back to being a viable option…
Once a good play, Zimmermann has obviously been easily ignored in recent years.  However things could be turning, especially have he stymied the Rangers yesterday allowing 1 R on 4 H and 0 BB, striking out 11, over 8.0 IP to improve to 4-0 with a 3.51 ERA and 1.05 WHIP over 56.1 IP.  Over his past three starts (20.0 IP) he’s allowed 2 ER on 13 H and 1 BB, striking out 20.  He’s always brought good control (1.92 BB/9 for his career), and he’s changed his approach as he’s throwing his slider more (35.3% in ’18 compared to 22.4% for his career).  That’s his swing and miss pitch (18.87% Whiff%), so an increased strikeout rate makes sense.  The question is going to be if he can keep the ball in the ballpark, entering the day with a 30.6% groundball rate (4 groundballs vs. 8 fly balls yesterday).  There’s appeal and at the very least he’s a streaming option, but don’t assume that he’s simply “back” today.


3) Odubel Herrera busts out of his slump in a big way…
There were plenty of offensive heroes for the Phillies, who racked up 17 runs on 18 hits against the Pirates.  Herrera’s performance is noteworthy, as he had gone 2-37 over his previous nine games.  He had a big night yesterday, going 2-6 with 1 HR, 4 RBI and 2 R, and despite the struggles is still hitting .277 with 15 HR and 51 RBI on the season.  Of course it’s interesting, because a lot of the underlying numbers don’t indicate this type of success:

  • SwStr% – 12.5%
  • O-Swing% – 37.6%
  • Hard% – 25.7%

A poor approach has helped to lead to little hard contact, and he’s also seen his popup rate balloon (17.0%).  Of course outside of the popup rate the other numbers are consistent, yet he’s a career .286 hitter.  He’s started to convert doubles into HR, and at 26-years old that’s believable.  There are going to be bumps, but continue to view him as a viable option.


4) Another debacle from Sonny Gray…
Taking on the Blue Jays he lasted just 2.0 IP allowing 5 ER on 6 H and 2 BB, striking out 4.  The big blow was a home run from Justin Smoak (2-3, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 R), though home runs have been the least of his worries this season (1.09 HR/9 entering the day, though his groundball rate is down at 47.6%).  He’s struggled with his control (3.92 BB/9) and entered yesterday with a career worst 22.6% line drive rate.  He’s now allowed 4+ ER in three straight starts (and four of his past five) as he now owns a 5.85 ERA and 1.57 WHIP over 84.2 IP.  The Yankees are going to be shopping for starting pitching ahead of the deadline, though it remains to be seen if they are going to acquire 1, 2 or even 3 starters (Domingo German and Jonathan Loaisiga could both face innings limits).  For now Gray should stick in the rotation, but he should be stuck on your bench until he shows us something (and it will take more than 1 start).


5) Two key starters return from the DL…

  1. Carlos Carrasco rejoined the Cleveland rotation, allowing 3 ER on 7 H and 0 BB, striking out 7, over 5.1 IP to defeat Oakland. He now owns a 4.28 ERA, but the big issues has been a 70.1% strand rate entering the day (75.6% and 78.2% the previous two seasons).  With strikeouts (9.46 K/9) and control (2.17 BB/9) just a little bit better luck will lead to significantly better results.  Buy now while his value may be suppressed.
  2. Dylan Bundy struggled against the Twins, allowing 6 R (5 earned) on 9 H and 1 BB, striking out 2, over 3.1 IP. He managed just 3 swinging strikes and allowed a home run to Max Kepler (1-4, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 R).  Home runs are the biggest question, entering the day with a 35.4% groundball rate and 1.69 HR/9.  That’s going to cap his value, and pitching in the AL East makes him more of a pitcher to keep stashed on your bench depending on the matchup.


6) An impressive rebound from Freddy Peralta…
While his last start wasn’t awful (3 ER over 5.0 IP against the Reds), it’s still nice to see him with a strong rebound against a good Atlanta team.  Going 6.0 IP he allowed 1 ER on 3 H and 3 BB, striking out 6.  Of course he has now walked 6 batters over his past 11.0 IP, after posting a 4.12 BB/9 over 59.0 IP at Triple-A prior to his recall.  He also runs the risk of allowing home runs, entering the day with a 32.1% groundball rate (5 groundballs vs. 5 fly balls yesterday).  While the long ball hasn’t been an issue as of yet, it looms large and could ultimately hurt.  There’s no questioning the strikeout stuff, but in redraft formats don’t ignore the obvious risks.


7) Lance McCullers shows the skill set of one of the elite…
While Rodrigo Lopez struggled with base runners all night long (4.2 IP, 3 ER, 6 H, 5 BB, 2 K), McCullers was lights out across the board.  Going 7.0 IP he allowed 1 ER on 3 H and 0 BB, striking out 12.  There was a monstrous 24 swinging strikes, and he also generated 8 groundballs vs. 1 fly ball on the night.  He entered the day with a 9.41 K/9, 3.38 BB/9 and 55.1% groundball rate, though with upside across his already solid numbers (last season he carried marks of 10.01, 3.03 and 61.3%).  We all know that the skill set is there to be among the elite starters in the game, and maybe he won’t post quite this impressive of a line he has the ability to flash it any time he toes the rubber.


8) Zack Godley outpitches Joey Lucchesi in a pitcher’s duel…
Godley has obviously disappointed this season, but it was a strong performance at home against the Padres (and one that he needed to get the W):

  • Zack Godley – 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 H, 1 BB, 7 K
  • Joey Lucchesi – 5.1 IP, 2 ER, 3 H, 1 BB, 5 K

It’s a significant bounce back after he allowed 7 ER over 4.0 IP against the Giants in his last start.  Obviously the matchup can’t be ignored, but Godley had everything working (including 8 groundballs vs. 3 fly balls and getting 14 swinging strikes).  The biggest issues have been his control (4.87 BB/9 entering the day) and a jump in Hard% (37.7%, leading to a .330 BABIP and 70.0% strand rate).  We’d expect improvements in both, which should lead to a strong second half.


9) Is Jose Bautista “back” to being a viable option…
He enjoyed a big day yesterday, going 1-3 with 1 HR, 4 RBI, 1 R and 1 SB, with the home run being a walk-off grand slam.  While he’s hitting .225 overall, his ability to draw a walk has given him a .388 OBP and he’s added 6 HR and 23 RBI (he’s hitting .255 with 4 HR and 18 RBI over 39 games with the Mets).  Obviously the power isn’t great and for those in formats that utilize AVG his value is going to be minimal.  If the Mets were to ever get healthy he’d likely be a non-factor, but for now in OBP formats he’s going to hold value and be worth utilizing in the short-term.


10) Dereck Rodriguez settles for a no decision after a decent start…
Taking on the Cardinals he allowed 2 ER on 5 H and 2 BB, striking out 1, over 6.2 IP.  While he was generating a lot of groundballs (13 groundballs vs. 5 fly balls), he wasn’t getting many swings and misses (5).  That continues to be the biggest negative facing him, as he entered with a 9.5% SwStr% and pedestrian 7.01 K/9.  Of course, despite what he showed yesterday he’s hardly a groundball machine (43.7% entering the day) and could also struggle with home runs.  Control is only going to take him so far, and while he’s a decent streaming option (or stash depending on the formats) he’s hardly a pitcher to trust each time he takes the mound.

Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball

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