10 Important Stories From 07/09/18 Box Scores: Hitters On The Rise (Polanco/Schebler), Sell High Candidates (Berrios) & More

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

Aaron Nola dominated the Mets in the nightcap of their double header, tossing 7.0 shutout innings allowing 1 H and 1 BB while striking out 10 (courtesy of 19 swinging strikes), and also drove in all three runs with a bases clearing double.  Jesus Aguilar blasted his 23rd home run of the season, and is now hitting .305 with 64 RBI (the fact that he wasn’t named to the All Star team seems like an injustice).  Chris Archer’s return from the DL didn’t go quite as planned (3.1 IP, 3 ER, 6 H, 2 BB, 3 K).  What else happened on the diamond that we need to know about?  Let’s dive in and take a look:

 

1) Can Brett Gardner put it together for a full season…
He enjoyed a big day yesterday, after sitting the first game of the Yankees-Orioles double header (he went 0-1 as a pinch hitter), going 4-6 with 1 HR, 3 RBI and 3 R while hitting atop the Yankees lineup.  He’s now hitting .260 with 7 HR and 8 SB over 292 AB while showing an ability to draw walks (40) and not strikeout a ton (53).  He entered the day with a 3.8% SwStr% and 18.8% O-Swing%, though it’s generally weaker contact (27.7% Hard%) and that limits his upside in his BABIP (.288, after a .300 last season).  He’s generally slowed in the second half, as his body wears down:

  • First Half – .274/.356/.413
  • Second Half – .247/.333/.361

The underlying metrics are right where he always is, so be careful moving forward.  That said the Yankees have ample OF depth, and could rest him more leading to better production.  For now consider him a player to ride, but with your eyes wide open.

 

2) Could Corey Oswalt become a sleeper streaming starter…
The Mets are clearly heading towards a rebuild, and that’s going to afford some youngsters an opportunity.  Oswalt could be one of them, depending on how the rotation shakes out (both Noah Syndergaard and Jason Vargas are nearing returns from the DL).  Oswalt should have earned himself another start after allowing 3 ER on 1 H and 3 BB, striking out 7, over 6.0 IP against the Phillies yesterday.  He was rolling with 4.0 perfect innings before stumbling in the fifth, but he righted the ship and was impressive.  Keep in mind he showed off all of the skills in 10 starts at Triple-A, with a 9.32 K/9, 3.42 BB/9 and 42.3% groundball rate.  Of course home runs were a problem (1.33 HR/9), though the locale skewed it a bit that is the biggest concern, his control was pedestrian (he did have a 2.68 BB/9 at Double-A in ’17) and his SwStr% of 10.3% isn’t going to blow you away.  It was a nice start, but don’t expect him to make an impact.

 

3) Gregory Polanco fills the box score, but are we buying…
He went 2-3 with 1 HR, 4 RBI, 2 R and 1 SB to lead the way against the Nationals yesterday.  He now has a modest 4-game hitting streak (5-15, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 5 R and 1 SB) and since June 25 he’s hitting .357 with 4 HR, 13 RBI, 8 R and 1 SB.  He has 13 K vs. 7 BB over this stretch, which isn’t terrible, as he continues to show a better approach (he entered the day with a career best 26.4% O-Swing%).  Being more selective has led to more strikeouts (23.8%) as he’s worked deeper counts, but he’s hitting the ball hard (35.7% Hard%) and should continue to evolve.  You could argue that he’s hitting too many fly balls (48.7%), but that’s not enough of a red flag.  The change of approach has led to some struggles, but now is the time to capitalize on a frustrated owner as things are quickly coming together.

 

4) A solid showing for Eduardo Rodriguez…
He shutdown the Rangers, tossing 5.2 shutout innings allowing 3 H and 3 BB while striking out 5 to earn the W.  Of course the underlying metrics aren’t going to blow you away, including 10 swinging strikes and 6 groundballs vs. 6 fly balls.  He has tossed 11.2 consecutive shutout innings and is 11-3 with a 3.62 ERA and 1.25 WHIP over 18 starts, so you have to give him some respect.  That said home runs are going to be an issue (he entered the day with a 39.6% groundball rate and 1.15 HR/9), could see his control continue to regress (2.79 BB/9 entering yesterday, after marks of 3.36 and 3.28 the previous two years) and could see his luck turn (77.0% strand rate).  He has significantly increased the usage of his cutter (18.7%), and that appears to have led to positive change, but that doesn’t mean to ignore the risks.

 

5) Scott Schebler thrives atop the order…
He’s assumed the leadoff spot against right-handed pitchers of late and yesterday he showed why, going 4-5 with 1 HR, 3 RBI and 1 R.  It’s interesting that the Reds are only utilizing him in this role against righties, because he’s actually had performed better against southpaws entering the day:

  • RHP – .249/.332/.469
  • LHP – .333/.385/.458

His approach is a question (15.2% SwStr%, 36.6% O-Swing%) and the strikeouts could regress (20.4%), but he hits the ball exceptionally hard (41.8% Hard%) and there’s never been a question about his power.  Hitting atop the lineup is only going to add to his appeal, but even with the risk there’s definitive value.

 

6) Another uninspiring start from Chase Anderson…
He had allowed 1 ER in each of his previous three starts, and while he allowed 1 R (0 earned) yesterday it’s hard to come out of the outing impressed.  Anderson failed to get through 5.0 innings (4.2 IP) allowing 1 R on 8 H and 2 BB, striking out 4.  While he does own a 3.81 ERA and 1.15 WHIP now, the questions far outweigh the potential rewards.  His SwStr% has regressed from last season (8.8%, with just 8 swinging strikes yesterday)…  His control has been mediocre (3.42 BB/9 entering the day)…  The risk of home runs looms large (35.2% groundball rate, 5 groundballs vs. 4 fly balls yesterday)…  What about that makes you want to buy?

 

7) Wilson Ramos continues to prove he’s among the elite once again…
He went 2-5 with 1 HR, 1 RBI and 2 R yesterday, putting him at .291 with 13 HR and 48 RBI over 278 AB.  He’s hitting the ball hard (40.9% Hard%) and is showing the same type of power he had back in 2016 (21.4% HR/FB.  There are concerns about his approach (he entered yesterday with a 12.0% SwStr% and 39.9% O-Swing%), which is a concern especially since he hasn’t shown any sign of improvement (12.9% SwStr%, 39.1% O-Swing% in June).  That’s not to say to avoid him, as the power and elevated BABIP (.330, right in line with his .327 from ’16) are believable.  He’s back to being among the better catching options in the league, the biggest question is who he is playing for come August 1 (returning to the Nationals is a fairly good bet).

 

8) It was a dominating performance from Jose Berrios…
Sure it was against the Royals, but Berrios was lights out allowing 1 ER on 6 H and 0 BB, striking out 8, over 7.0 IP.  He generated 16 swinging strikes and generated 8 groundballs vs. 4 fly balls, as he corrected the home run issue that’s plagued him of late (5 HR over 11.1 IP in his past two starts).  That easily could be a one-start revival though, as he entered the day with a 39.4% groundball rate.  It’s something he can overcome, with his elite control and ability to generate swings and misses (11.4% SwStr% entering the day, leading to nearly a strikeout per inning), but it also means there are going to be some rough days.  Throw in the likelihood that his luck takes a step back (.243 BABIP, 78.2% strand rate) and thinking about selling high in redraft leagues makes sense.  In keeper/dynasty leagues that’s not a recommended action, because the upside is significant, but for this year he could do more harm then good in the second half.

 

9) Frankie Montas matches Gerrit Cole pitch-for-pitch…
Cole was fantastic, tossing 6.0 shutout innings allowing 3 H and 3 BB, striking out 11, but had to settle for a no decision.  That’s due to Montas’ tremendous effort, as he also tossed 6.0 shutout innings allowing 3 H and 2 BB, striking out 2 (the A’s scored immediately upon Cole’s removal, letting Montas walk away with a W).  Obviously Montas wasn’t getting many swings and misses (8, compared to Cole’s gaudy 23).  While Montas does own a 3.35 ERA over 48.1 IP, he also has a 1.39 WHIP as he’s been hit exceptionally hard (49.6% Hard% entering the day), hasn’t struck out many (7.7% SwStr% leading to a 5.95 K/9) and is going to see his home run rate rise (0.43 HR/9).  Unless something changes, consider him a nice story thus far but not a player worth investing in.

 

10) Andrew Suarez shuts down the Cubs…
Of course San Francisco couldn’t get any offense going, as Kyle Hendricks was dominant himself (8.1 IP,1 R, 5 H, 1 BB, 8 K), but Suarez was fantastic.  Going 6.0 innings he allowed 1 ER on 3 H and 4 BB, striking out 5.  His success comes from his ability to generate groundballs (52.4% entering the day, 9 groundballs vs. 4 fly balls yesterday).  While he entered the day showing strikeouts (8.31 K/9) and elite control (1.73 BB/9), though regressing in both departments isn’t a surprise:

  • Strikeouts – He entered with a 7.6% SwStr% (9 swinging strikes yesterday)
  • Control – He had a 2.74 BB/9 over 88.2 IP at Triple-A in ‘17

Even the groundballs could regress, making him a pitcher with too much downside to trust.

Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs

8 comments

  1. Joe Carola says:

    Toles or Tucker for a chance at some SBs this season? By season I mean before the All Star break because no one steals after the break. Grrrrr.

  2. Joel says:

    I’ve been holding on to polanco all season in my dynasty league. Glad to see he can finally contribute.

  3. Jeff says:

    You dropping Eduardo Escobar for Elvis Andrus? (roto/obp)

  4. Viv Savage says:

    Thoughts on Niko Goodrum? Badly want to put him on my roster but have no one to drop..just maybe Jorge Polanco.

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      I like Goodrum. Don’t think he’s this big difference maker, but a solid piece worth rostering

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