10 Important Stories From 07/12/18 Box Scores: Sell High Candidates (Matz/Gibson), Is Morton Going To Disappoint Moving Forward & More

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

Kevin Gausman is making it difficult to believe in a rebound, as he struggled against the Phillies allowing 5 ER on 12 H and 1 BB, striking out 2, over 5.0 IP.  Jesus Aguilar continued his unbelievable first half, hitting his 24th home run of the season.   In what was supposed to be the matchup of the night, but Luis Severino (5.0 IP, 4 ER, 9 H, 1 BB, 1 K) and Corey Kluber (7.1 IP, 6 ER, 8 H, 2 BB, 9 K) struggled.  What else happened on the field that we need to know about?  Let’s dive in and look:


1) Will Charlie Morton be able to turn things around…
Taking on the A’s he posted his second straight subpar outing.  Over 4.1 IP he allowed 3 ER on 6 H and 2 BB, striking out 5, and has now allowed 8 ER on 11 H and 4 BB over his past 10.0 IP.  He has continued to generate strikeouts (13 K over these two games, 146 over 112.1 IP overall), but there are legitimate concerns about a regression:

  • Luck – It’s easy to imagine his 81.3% strand rate and .277 BABIP regressing
  • Control – He entered the day with a 3.58 BB/9
  • Home Runs – He’s now gone seven straight starts without allowing a HR, though his groundball rate has been trending in the wrong direction (46.2% in June, he entered yesterday at 37.9% in two July starts and then managed 3 groundballs vs. 5 fly balls

No one is going to give up on him, but don’t be surprised if he ultimately underwhelms in the second half.


2) Kyle Freeland settles for a tough luck no decision…
He outpitched Robbie Ray (who had a solid start in Coors field, allowing 2 ER on 5 H and 3 BB, striking out 8, over 5.1 IP), allowing 1 ER on 6 H and 1 BB, striking out 4, over 5.1 IP.  Of course you can call it a bit of a lucky performance, as he generated just 10 swinging strikes and 4 groundballs (vs. 8 fly balls) on the day.  While Freeland now owns a 3.11 ERA and 1.21 WHIP over 115.1 IP, he has struck out 4 batters or fewer in six straight starts.  That’s just the top of the concerns, as he entered the day with an 82.2% strand rate, fairly pedestrian 3.02 BB/9 and 48.4% groundball rate (with one month better than 48%).  The overall numbers may look enticing, but he’s a pitcher to avoid.


3) A strong rebound performance from Nick Pivetta…
Taking on the Orioles he allowed 3 ER on 5 H and 1 BB, striking out 7, over 6.2 IP.  Obviously the opponent matters, but after allowing 10 R (8 ER) over 5.1 IP in his past three appearances (and that included a scoreless inning out of the bullpen) it’s a great sign.  He showed swinging strikes (16) and was generating a lot of groundballs (10 groundballs vs. 3 fly balls), though he did allow a home run to Trey Mancini (1-4, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 R) and that’s been a problem all year (he entered the day with a 44.4% groundball rate and 1.30 HR/9).  That said he has been showing strikeouts (10.64 K/9) and control (2.91 BB/9), and there should be improvement in his .336 BABIP entering the day.  Let the recent stretch of poor outings create a buying opportunity and take advantage while you can.


4) Jameson Taillon dazzles against the Brewers…
It was a stellar outing, allowing 1 ER on 4 H and 2 BB, striking out 10, over 6.0 IP.  While it’s been an up and down campaign for the youngster, he entered the day showing off all the skills that we look for including an 8.37 K/9, 2.52 BB/9 and 50.0% groundball rate.  He only generated 12 swinging strikes yesterday (10.0% SwStr% entering the day), so it’s fair to wonder if he could see a step back in the strikeout department.  Is that enough to be down on him, though?  While his 3.91 ERA and 1.22 WHIP may not blow you away, the upside is there for him to produce and string together some strong starts.  While he’s not necessarily going to be a must start, he’s well worth owning.


5) Is Teoscar Hernandez primed for a rebound…
He went 2-4 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 1 R, taking David Price (who got the W, but allowed 3 ER on 6 H over 6.2 IP as he allowed another 2 HR) deep.  The home run was Hernandez’ first since June 23, breaking a stretch where he had clearly been slumping (10-46 with 0 HR, 2 RBI, 3 R and 0 SB over his previous 13 games).  He’s now hitting .259 with 14 HR and 37 RBI over 297 AB on the season, so we have enough of a sample size to try to draw some conclusions.  His approach has been poor, entering the day with a 16.5% SwStr% and 35.2% O-Swing%, and when coupled with a 10.3% IFFB it justifies his .310 BABIP.  He has shown some power (he had an 18.5% HR/FB in June), and if he were running more there would still be some value.  However he’s just 3-for-7 in SB attempts, and he’s more of a one-trick pony right now.  If he does get hot he’ll be worth using, but until things change he’s not going to be a must use option.


6) Brett Gardner steps up and helps to carry the Yankees offense…
He went 2-5 with 2 HR, 3 RBI and 2 R hitting atop the order, including taking Kluber deep.  He’s now hitting .257 with 9 HR, 31 RBI, 53 R and 9 SB over 304 AB on the season.  A lot of that production has come recently, with 3 HR and 10 RBI over his past seven games (and 2 SB over his past eight games).  It’s easy to overlook him, considering the depth of the lineup and a history of struggling in the second half.  However the Yankees also have the depth to give him additional rest in an effort to keep him healthy, and he is just a year removed from a 21 HR/23 SB campaign.  He’s showing a strong approach (3.7% SwStr%, 18.8% O-Swing%), though his line drive rate has been down all year long (20.0% in April is his best mark).  That’s going to help to cap his value, at least a little bit, but with his approach, speed and ability to kick in some power he still has the potential to produce moving forward.


7) It was an underwhelming start from Steven Matz…
Taking on the Nationals he allowed 3 ER on 8 H and 2 BB, striking out 4, over 6.1 IP.  He was torched by Anthony Rendon, who took him deep twice and finished the day going 3-5 with 2 HR, 3 RBI and 3 R.  You can argue that Matz wasn’t fooling anyone, getting just 4 swinging strikes, and that’ll be something we have to watch moving forward since it was already a bit of a concern.  While the strikeout rate has been solid, he entered the day with an 8.2% SwStr% and 22.0% O-Swing%.  That indicates the potential risk in his strikeout rate overall and he also has shown unimpressive control (overall he entered with a 3.51 BB/9, but he posted 4.15 and 4.13 over the first two months).  While he featured a 52.0% groundball rate, that was 48.5% in July entering the day (he had 8 groundballs vs. 7 fly balls yesterday).  Things appear to be headed in the wrong direction, so if you can sell high it would be wise to do so.


8) Kyle Gibson shines against the Rays…
He went 8.0 IP allowing 1 ER on 5 H and 0 BB, striking out 9, as he was in control all night long.  At the same time his 4 groundballs vs. 11 fly balls is at least a mild concern, especially since he had allowed a home run in four straight games leading up to this one (somehow he escaped without being taken deep yesterday).  He entered the day with a 48.0% groundball rate, so we aren’t running from him based on this one.  The real question is whether he can maintain his near strikeout per inning (he entered with an 8.78 K/9), and with an 11.7% SwStr% he should be able to stay in this range.  However he’s also been hit relatively hard, with a 36.9% Hard%, and there’s going to be risk of regression in both his BABIP (.277) and strand rate (77.1%).  That means a step back from his 3.42 ERA, making him an intriguing sell high candidate depending on what the market can bring you.


9) Ross Stripling just keeps on rolling…
Taking on the Padres he tossed 6.0 shutout innings, allowing 6 H and 1 BB while striking out 5.  He’s now made 25 appearances (14 starts) and owns a 2.08 ERA and 1.08 WHIP, along with 108 K vs. 14 BB over 95.1 IP.  Obviously there’s a good chance that a regression is coming, considering his overall 89.2% strand rate (87.7% as a starter), but he’s showing strikeouts (10.46 K/9 as a starter), control (0.85 BB/9) and groundballs (51.8%).  Of course it’s hard to envision him maintaining that type of control (he was at 3.52 as a reliever and 2.12 overall in the Majors), so you couple that with the strand rate regression and there are likely going to be a few down starts moving forward.  Does that make him a must sell?  Absolutely not, as the metrics do indicate that he should be a usable option, just be prepared to take a few hits along the way.


10) The Angels offense erupts in support of Tyler Skaggs…
Skaggs did his job with a big lead, allowing 1 ER on 5 H and 1 BB, striking out 5, over 6.0 IP in his first start off the DL, but the story of this game was the offense.  They got to James Paxton early (0.2 IP, 3 ER, 3 H) before he was forced to leave with a back issue.  They also got contributions from three players who needed it:

  • Justin Upton – 2-4, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 R, 1 SB
  • Albert Pujols – 3-4, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 2 R
  • Ian Kinsler – 3-5, 3 RBI

Upton is among the streakiest players in the game and we all know that Pujols is on the downside of his career (so we can’t get too excited).  As for Kinsler, it’s been a miserable season and even with this big day he’s hitting .218 and has gone 12 straight games without a HR (1 HR since June 19) and has just 1 SB since June 17.  It was a nice game, but until keeps it rolling we can’t get excited.

Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs


  1. Bbboston says:


    Travis 4-4 night. Is he bouncing.back to the guy who was just a really solid bat with some pop? Before the knees, I loved how he hit to all fields, etc. I’ve hung in with him this year…

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      I just can’t get behind him, especially since expecting him to stay healthy is a stretch If he’s on the field he should be solid, but he’s not going to be spectacular

  2. SadMetsFan says:

    First time poster – love the site and your work. Thanks.

    Just an FYI – Teoscar Hernandez does *not* hit near the bottom of the lineup. He bats consistently leadoff to cleanup. Can’t remember when he hasn’t batted somewhere in that range.

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      First thanks for the support, it is much appreciated! Second, thanks for that (and to Omar believe as well)!! I will update 🙂

  3. Omar says:

    I don’t recall Teoscar hitting lower than 4th in the lineup all season, and has led off at times as wel.

  4. Dirtbag Soup says:

    Would you rather have DeShields or Mallex Smith?

  5. John Cook says:

    Which side – D Gordon/bumgarner or Springer/ muncy ?

  6. NK says:

    Hey Prof, Weaver being sent down is a bit of a surprise to me, I was just about to buy in.. I had a few questions

    Weaver or Flaherty ROS?

    Is Shark due to have some positive regression or is it best to just stay away?

    My line up is overpopulated by Dodgers at the moment, how would you rank these three ROS: Muncy, Taylor, Kemp.

    Thanks as always, have a good weekend.

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      It’s just to take advantage of the break, the move is meaningless in the scheme of things

      That said, I prefer Flaherty

      I’m a believer in Samardzija turning it around

      As for the Dodgers: Muncy / Taylor / Kemp

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