by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Matt Carpenter homered in both parts of a double header, despite not starting Game 2, and has now homered in six straight games after going 2-4 with 2 HR, 2 RBI and 2 R. It was a dominant performance from Justin Verlander, who tossed 5.0 shutout innings against the Angels allowing 5 H and 2 BB, striking out 11. Garrett Hampson made his MLB debut, going 1-3 with 1 RBI and 1 R while hitting seventh. What else happened that we need to know about? Let’s dive in and take a look:
1) Has Sonny Gray figured something out…
It continues to look like a highly disappointing season for Gray, and it’s not like he was dominating against the Mets yesterday, but he has won back-to-back starts (11.1 IP, 2 ER, 6 H, 4 BB, 14 K). Yesterday he was charged with 3 R (2 earned) on 3 H and 3 BB, striking out 6, over 5.1 IP. Overall his control continues to be an issue (he entered with a 3.87 BB/9) and he’s not generating as many groundballs as he has in the past (47.6% entering the day, 4 groundballs vs. 6 fly balls yesterday). There’s still at least a little bit of potential, and he’s been posting somewhat better results, but against the Orioles and Mets we also don’t want to give him too much credit. For now continue to view him as more of a streaming option as opposed to a pitcher to plug into your lineup and trust.
2) Is Pablo Lopez a pitcher worth having on your radar…
He hadn’t posted impressive results over his previous two starts (10 ER over 11.0 IP against the Nationals & Brewers), but he stymied the Rays allowing 1 ER on 3 H and 1 BB, striking out 6, over 6.0 IP. He made one mistake (a home run to Joey Wendle), but it was an otherwise strong showing. Lopez strength has generally been in his control (1.73 BB/9 over 62.1 IP in the minors this season), though a 12.0% SwStr% and more than a strikeout per inning showed that he has potential to chip in there as well. He needs to keep the ball in the ballpark (42.3% groundball rate in the minors), but pitching in Miami that’s something that shouldn’t be viewed as a significant impediment. He’s hardly a must start option, but if the matchups are right he can at least be a solid streaming option.
3) Corey Dickerson continues to fill the box score…
He went 2-5 with 2 HR, 2 RBI, 2 R and 1 SB yesterday, giving him home runs in three straight games and four multi-hit games in his past five (8-24, 4 HR, 5 RBI, 7 R and 1 SB). He’s added 3 doubles over this stretch and overall he’s now hitting .307 with 10 HR (as well as 22 doubles and 5 triples), 40 RBI and 44 R over 335 AB. He continues to take an extremely aggressive approach at the plate, entering the day with a 44.5% O-Swing%, though he’s not swinging and missing as much (10.1% SwStr%). It’s tough to bank on the continued limited strikeout rate and he’s also not hitting the ball exceptionally hard (32.4% Hard%). That makes it extremely tough to buy into his .333 BABIP and while he could continue to add some power is that really enough? Ride him while he’s hot, but don’t expect him to be a difference maker over the course of the entire second half.
4) Carlos Carrasco showing signs of returning to ace-like status…
Ultimately the Indians piled up the runs in what would be a blow out win, but Carrasco still finished with an impressive line allowing 2 ER on 5 H and 1 BB, striking out 8, over 6.2 IP. Even better were his 17 swinging strikes and 8 groundballs vs. 4 fly balls, giving strong signs of turning things around. Of course he entered the day with a 9.82 K/9 and 2.02 BB/9, courtesy of a 13.4% SwStr% and 35.9% O-Swing%, but his groundball rate has continued it’s downward trend (41.9%) and there’s been a bit of bad luck (.313 BABIP, 72.1% strand rate). The luck should ultimately fix itself and he showed the groundballs yesterday (he was at 45.1% in June). We all know how good he can be, and that simply can’t be ignored. Continue to value him among the Top 20 starters in the game.
5) Another underwhelming start from Zack Godley…
Taking on the Rockies, at home, he allowed 4 R (3 earned) on 5 H and 4 BB, striking out 6, over 5.0 IP. The underlying metrics were promising, but is it enough:
- Swinging Strikes – 15
- Groundballs – 6 (compared to 3 fly balls)
He had been pitching better of late, including 3 BB over 13.0 IP in his last three appearances (it included a 1.0 inning relief outing), but obviously this was a step in the wrong direction. He has been getting strikeouts (9.23 K/9) and groundballs (51.2%), but the control issues and 36.6% Hard% are issues that don’t seem to be going away. Any improvement will help lead to an improved BABIP (.327) and strand rate (71.2%), and it’s possible it comes together at some point this season. For now stay patient and keep him stashed.
6) Madison Bumgarner struggles with his control against the A’s…
He needed 92 pitches to get through 4.0 IP, allowing 3 ER on 2 H and 6 BB, striking out 5. He’s managed 6 K or fewer over his past four starts, walking 14 batters in the process (over 21.1 IP). Obviously it’s not an awful number, but he entered the day with an uncharacteristic 3.08 BB/9 while also showing his worst SwStr% since 2010 (8.8%) and benefiting from significant luck (.257 BABIP, 81.1% strand rate). You have to start to wonder if the injuries over the past two years have started to catch up with him, as his Hard% has been 35.0% and 36.9% (compared to a career mark of 28.3%). In other words the red flags are flying, and there is reason to be skeptical about him turning it around. The name is obviously going to elicit a lot of hope, but the underlying numbers don’t justify it. If you can buy him low enough then there’s enough upside to consider him, but paying full price simply isn’t justified.
7) Another underwhelming start from Luke Weaver…
Pitching the first half of a double-header, Weaver allowed 3 ER on 7 H and 5 BB, striking out 2, over 4.0 IP. Sure he was getting groundballs (9 groundballs vs. 1 fly ball), but he wasn’t getting swings and misses (5) and obviously couldn’t find the strike zone (though neither could his counterpart, Tyler Chatwood, who allowed 1 ER on 1 H and 6 BB, striking out 2, over 5.1 IP). He entered the day with a 40.0% groundball rate, so we don’t want to get too excited about the number, and his control has been spotty at best (4.02 BB/9 in April, 4.11 in June). Couple that with an unimpressive SwStr% (9.9%) and O-Swing% (28.0%) and it’s simply hard to get excited. That’s not to say that there isn’t upside, but right now he’s more of a streaming option as opposed to a pitcher that we can trust.
8) A dominant performance from Marcus Stroman…
Sure it came against the Orioles, so we have to take that into account, but Stroman was fantastic allowing 1 ER on 5 H and 2 BB, striking out 7, over 7.0 IP. He had a highly impressive 17 swinging strikes as well as 10 groundballs vs. 3 fly balls, showing just how in command he was. He’s allowed 1 ER or fewer in four of his past six starts, helping to lower his ERA to 5.42. He entered the day with a bloated 40.2% Hard%, so it would be hard to call any struggles poor luck related (.317 BABIP, 59.2% strand rate), though he’s been trending in the right direction:
- April – 47.6%
- May – 45.5%
- June – 34.3%
- July – 28.9%
If he can continue on that path the results will be there. While others are still down on him, but now (and just anticipate sitting him against the Red Sox and Yankees).
9) Nick Tropeano returns, but in unimpressive fashion…
Obviously taking on the Astros was a tall order, and he wasn’t terrible allowing 2 ER (1 earned) on 2 H and 4 BB, striking out 5, over 5.0 IP. It’s the control that’s the real red flag, as he now has 24 BB over 59.0 IP overall this season. Couple that with a pedestrian strikeout rate (7.33 K/9) and lack of groundballs (35.2%) and is there any reason that we really want to buy? He did enter the day with an 11.5% SwStr%, and had 10 swinging strikes yesterday, so there is a little bit of hope in that regard. However he’s going to continue to be plagued by home runs (1.50 HR/9 entering the day), and without fixing that the risk is going to be far too high to trust.
10) A somewhat solid, but no really, start for Chase Anderson…
Taking on the Dodgers he allowed 2 ER on 6 H and 2 BB, striking out 6, over 4.0 IP (104 pitches) in what was a no decision. Sure he’s allowed 2 ER or fewer in six straight starts, but he’s gone 5.1 innings or fewer in each of his past three. He also continues to face significant home run risks (36.0% groundball rate entering the day), lacks swing and miss stuff (8.6% SwStr%) and isn’t getting opponents to chase outside the strike zone (28.9% O-Swing%). Is there anything about that makeup that makes you want to buy? The numbers aren’t terrible, but the risk outweighs the reward.
Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs
Make sure to check out all of our Midseason Prospect Rankings: