10 Important Stories From 07/13/18 Box Scores: Batters To Buy (J. Bell/Calhoun), Players To Avoid (Rosario/Harvey) & More

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

It was a horrific start for Rick Porcello, who allowed 8 ER on 7 H and 4 BB, striking out 2, over 2.0 IP against the Blue Jays.  Noah Syndergaard returned from the DL and pitched fairly well, allowing 1 ER on 7 H and 2 BB, striking out 3, over 5.0 IP en route to a victory over the Nationals.  Alex Bregman continued his emergence, going 2-4 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 2 R (putting him at .287 with 20 HR and 8 SB on the season).  What else happened on the field that we need to know about?  Let’s dive right in:

 

1) Is Josh Bell finally turning things around…
It’s been a disappointing start for Bell, who we had high hopes for in the preseason.  However after going 4-4 with 2 RBI and 1 R he’s now been on base 7 times over his past two games (4-5 with 3 BB, leading to 2 RBI and 4 R).  He’s suddenly 11-33 with 5 BB in July, though he hasn’t homered since June 25 (his only home run since June 1).  At .259 with 5 HR over 316 AB on the season, it’s obviously been a bitter disappointment.  He entered the day with a 6.2% HR/FB, down from 19.1% in ’17, and he’s also made consistently weaker contact (28.3% Hard%).  There’s hope that these past few days are a sign of a turnaround, but he needs to show this consistently and improve on those two key numbers.  If he can’t, he’s going to continue to underwhelm.  That said there’s reason to believe, and if the price is low he’s worth the investment.

 

2) Justin Smoak continued his power barrage…
The Red Sox and Blue Jays combined for 20 runs, so there was plenty of offense, but it was Smoak’s day that was most notable.  He went 3-5 with 2 HR, 4 RBI and 2 R, giving him 4 HR over his past four games (and 5 HR over his past seven).  Currently on a seven-game hitting streak, he’s gone 12-27 with 5 HR, 10 RBI and 7 R.  While he’s still hitting just .248, he now has 16 HR and 52 RBI so those who have stuck with him should hardly be disappointed.  As it is he’s raised his average from .229 and there’s room for continued growth, especially with the strong approach he’s shown (he entered the day with an 8.9% SwStr% and 21.9% O-Swing%).  That should mean an improved strikeout rate (24.9%) and Hard% (33.2%, though he entered yesterday at 36.0% in July).  In other words, if there’s still a buying opportunity don’t miss it.

 

3) The usefulness of Domingo German may have passed us by…
While Shane Bieber was pitching well (7.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 H,2 BB, 6 K, especially considering the matchup, German put his team in a hole.  Going just 4.0 IP he allowed 6 ER on 5 H and 4 BB, striking out 6, making it the third time in his past four starts that he’s failed to go past 4.1 IP (there was a 1.0 inning relief appearance mixed in).  Over his past three starts he’s now walked 9 batters over 14.1 IP, and when you couple that with some home run issues (he entered the day with a 38.2% groundball rate, helping him to a 1.69 HR/9) and it’s no surprise that there have been some struggles.  With the Yankees nearly a lock to add at least one starting pitcher prior to the deadline, German’s time in the rotation should soon end.  Considering his recent performance, his time as a starter in your fantasy lineup has already ended (he should still be a streaming option for now).

 

4) Is it time to buy into Amed Rosario…
He went 2-4 with 1 R and 1 SB yesterday, with both hits going for extra bases (1 double and 1 triple).  Over his past six games he’s gone 8-18 with 3 doubles and 3 triples, while also stealing two bases.  Those are strong numbers, and he also has just 1 K over this stretch.  Of course he’s still struggling to draw walks (5.4% walk rate entering the day) and he’s shown little improvement in his approach during July (he entered the day with a 13.0% SwStr% and 38.3% O-Swing%).  While it’s been a nice little run and there is some value, we’re going to need to see more before trusting him (especially since he’s not ready to contribute much power overall).  Don’t get overly excited.

 

5) Has Zack Godley finally started to turn things around…
Taking on the Braves he pitched well yesterday, allowing 1 R on 5 H and 1 BB, striking out 7, over 6.0 IP.  He generated an impressive 18 swinging strikes and has now allowed 2 ER over his past 13.0 IP (including a 1.0 inning relief outing), allowing 10 H and 3 BB, striking out 16.  The biggest problem for Godley, aside from “luck” (70.7% strand rate, .327 BABIP), has been his control as he entered the day with a 4.71 BB/9.  He has been getting significantly more swings outside the strike zone in July (he entered with a 37.6% O-Swing%), and that’s an encouraging sign.  It’s likely that there’s still a buying opportunity, even with a few strong starts, and now is the time to act before it’s too late.

 

6) Nathan Eovaldi takes one on the chin…
After flirting with perfection his last time out, Eovaldi simply didn’t have it in this one.  Lasting just 2.2 IP he allowed 8 ER on 9 H and 2 BB, striking out 1, with the biggest blow coming courtesy of Joe Mauer (2-3, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 2 R).  He entered the day with a .198 BABIP and 80.3% strand rate, so it’s easy to chalk this one up to an “evening” of his numbers.  The question is will he be able to rebound?  He entered the day with an 8.19 K/9 (courtesy of a 10.4% SwStr%), 1.12 BB/9 and 48.8% groundball rate, so there’s obviously reason to believe.  It’s easy to cut bait and move on after this disaster, but there’s still appeal so fantasy owners would be wise to stay the course.

 

7) Matt Harvey continues to show signs of improvement…
He allowed 1 ER on 4 H and 2 BB, striking out 5, over 5.0 IP to defeat the Cardinals.  He was generating groundballs (7 groundballs vs. 3 fly balls), though that hasn’t been a constant during his time in Cincinnati (42.8% groundball rate entering the day).  He’s also not generating many swings and misses (8.4% SwStr%, with 10 swinging strikes yesterday), with his walk rate (1.97 BB/9) being the key number to point to.  Is that enough to justify allowing 2 ER or fewer over his past five starts?  That’s a tough sell, and when coupled with the likelihood of the long ball ultimately biting him (he’s surprisingly now gone six straight starts without allowing a home run) and the limited strikeout rate he appears to be a disaster waiting to happen.  Don’t go assuming that he’s “back” because struggles are coming.

 

8) Trevor Story helps to lead the Rockies to a W…
They ultimately scored 10 runs on 14 hits, with Story leading the way.  He finished going 2-5 with 1 HR, 4 RBI and 1 R, putting him at .291 with 19 HR and 67 RBI on the season.  He’s been even better of late, including home runs in back-to-back games and seven multi-hit games in his past nine.  He’s hitting .425 with 3 HR and 9 RBI in July, while he also continues to chip in some SB (2 in July, 12 on the season).  He continues to hit the ball hard (45.7% Hard%), but the real key is his 25.5% strikeout rate.  Can he continue with the improved mark?  His 11.0% SwStr% and 29.5% O-Swing% are not eye sores, and the SwStr% is a definite improvement (14.1% last season).  If he can continue on this path, he should bring a solid average (think .275-.280) with 30-35 HR and potentially 20+ SB.  In other words he has the makings of a stud and shouldn’t be overlooked.

 

9) It was another disappointing start from Tyler Chatwood…
Taking on the Padres he allowed 3 ER on 5 H and 3 BB, striking out 2, over 5.0 IP.  He finished the first half with a 5.04 ERA and 1.77 WHIP, and while he generally has gotten strikeouts (8.43 K/9 entering the day) and generated groundballs (55.1%, before 9 groundballs vs. 4 fly balls yesterday), his control has been horrific (7.97 BB/9).  He’s never been a control artist (4.58 BB/9 for his career), but this is obviously taking things to a new level.  Even if that does improve, you can question whether the strikeouts are for real (8.3% SwStr%, 7 swinging strikes yesterday) and he’s shown the regression lately with 6 K over his past 10.2 IP.  Throw in no reason to believe in improved luck (73.2% strand rate, .301 BABIP) and he’s hardly a buy low candidate.  In fact, it’s more likely that he is pushed out of the rotation than he turns it around.

 

10) Kole Calhoun continues to show a turnaround…
He was the only one to touch up Walker Buehler, who returned with a strong showing (5.0 IP, 2 ER, 6 H, 1 BB, 5 K), taking him deep twice.  Calhoun finished going 2-4 with 2 HR, 2 RBI and 2 R, and while he’s still hitting .185 he’s at least gone 6-14 with 3 HR, 5 RBI and 5 R over his past four games.  It’s not much, but at least it’s maybe a sign of things to come in the second half.  There’s every reason to believe that he’ll improve upon a .208 BABIP (especially given his 36.5% Hard% entering the day), and his power isn’t far off from what you’d expect (he’s hit 18 and 19 HR the past two seasons).  If he’s sitting on your waiver wire it’s worth buying him now, as there’s significant upside and little downside.

Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs

7 comments

  1. Larry says:

    Eric: Need to cut either Jordan Zimmerman or Gausman. Flip a coin or do you see a distinction? Thanks.

  2. Larry says:

    Second half catcher: Hedges or Narvaez?

  3. Barry says:

    Having a hard time keeping Pham in my lineup. .163 BA and .564 OPS and ZERO bags stolen in the past 30 days. I don’t have any bats on my bench and keep 13 pitchers on my staff. J.D., Springer, Pham and Soto with OF eligibility.

    I won’t drop him, however I have Verlander, C-Mart, Mikols, Godley, Heaney, Manaea, Kingham, Bieber, as starters and Hand, Allen, Greene and Jimenez as relievers. (6×6 H2H OPS QS Saves only).

    Desmond, CarGo, Winker, Reddick, and Piscotty all available with OF eligibility. Should I drop one of my back end pitchers and bench Pham for awhile, or ride out the storm and keep my staff intact?

    As always, thanks for your response.

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      I can see benching him until he turns things around (Heaney would be my first drop), but hopefully he won’t have to be on the sidelines for very long!

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