by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Maikel Franco enjoyed a big night, going 3-4 with 2 HR, 2 RBI and 2 R, though you have to wonder if he’ll still be a Phillie (or at least a starter) after the Trade Deadline. Corey Kluber struggled in a rain shortened game, allowing 7 R (3 earned) on 9 H and 1 BB, striking out 2, over 4.0 IP against the Pirates (Josh Harrison took him deep, finishing 2-3 with 1 HR, 3 RBI and 2 R). Jacob deGrom pitched to poor luck yet again, allowing 3 R (2 earned) on 5 H and 2 BB, striking out 10, over 8.0 IP but being saddled with the “L” against the Padres (he’s now 5-5 with a 1.71 ERA). What else happened on the field that we need to know about? Let’s dive into the box scores:
1) Has Kevin Gausman become completely unusable…
It was against the Red Sox, but he still allowed 5 ER on 3 H and 3 BB, striking out 2, over 4.2 IP. A few notes about his recent performances:
- He’s allowed 5 ER in back-to-back starts
- He’s gone 5.0 IP or fewer in three straight starts
- He’s allowed HR in six straight starts (and 9 of 10)
- He has 5 K or fewer in six straight starts (11 K over 22.2 IP in July)
That’s a lot of scary numbers. Home runs have consistently been an issue (1.29 HR/9 for his career), and while the lack of strikeouts is a new “issue” his 6 swinging strikes yesterday is highly concerning. There’s still a chance he turns it around, but for now it’s a very tough sell.
2) Is this the start of the regression for Ross Stripling…
The Phillies got him for 3 HR yesterday, as he ultimately allowed 5 ER on 7 H and 0 BB, striking out 6, over 4.2 IP. Obviously it’s just one start and he still owns an impressive 2.43 ERA and 1.10 WHIP, along with 114 K over 100.0 IP, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have questions/concerns:
- He entered the day with a 10.9% SwStr%, and is that enough to justify a 10.20 K/9?
- Can he really maintain a miniscule walk rate?
- How far will his 90.0% strand rate plummet?
Despite yesterday home runs shouldn’t be an issue, and he should remain solid even if we do see a regression in both the strikeouts and control. It’s the strand rate that’s going to implode, and yesterday could just be the start. That’s not to say that he won’t be a usable option, but he’s simply not this good so proceed with caution (and consider selling high if you are only eyeing 2018).
3) Adalberto Mejia return to the Majors to shutdown the Blue Jays…
It was a favorable matchup, but he still allowed just 1 ER over 5.1 IP on the road. That said there was obviously a lot of luck, as he allowed 8 H and 2 BB while striking out just 3. The southpaw showed more strikeout (8.81 K/9) and control (2.89 BB/9) over 62.1 IP at Triple-A prior to his recall, and considering his 10.5% SwStr% and 32.2% O-Swing% in nearly 100 IP in the Majors last season the potential is obvious. The biggest risk comes from the long ball, as he had a 36.7% groundball rate at Triple-A and owned a 37.7% mark in the Majors entering the day (5 groundballs vs. 8 fly balls yesterday). In the right matchup he can hold value, but that risk is going to make him a tough sell on most days.
4) Daniel Poncedeleon has an MLB debut to talk about…
It took him 116 pitches, but he spun 7.0 no-hit innings allowing 3 BB while striking out 3 against the Reds. The bullpen ultimately cost him the game (Bud Norris gave up 2 R in 0.2 IP for a blown save), but that shouldn’t overshadow the performance. Of course there also are a lot of questions surrounding Poncedeleon, as we recently discussed on our prospect site (click here to read), despite his impressive overall numbers at Triple-A (2.15 ERA, 1.24 WHIP). The biggest issues were a lack of control, with a 4.70 BB/9, something that he continued to show yesterday. He also was lucky to keep the ball in the ballpark, with a 28.9% groundball rate at Triple-A (and just 6 groundballs vs. 12 fly balls in yesterday’s start). That’s not to take away from yesterday’s performance, but there’s little chance that he comes even reasonably close to replicating it. Don’t go all in expecting a significant impact over the remainder of the season.
5) Joey Lucchesi pitches well in his return to the Majors…
His demotion was due to roster flexibility, and we all knew he’d return when needed. He drew a favorable draw against the Mets and he took advantage, allowing 2 ER on 6 H and 0 BB, striking out 6, over 5.1 IP. Over 15 starts in the Majors (72.2 IP) he now owns a solid 3.32 ERA and 1.21 WHIP to go along with 75 K vs. 25 BB. You can question his ability to maintain the strikeouts/control, considering he entered the day with a 9.6% SwStr% and 26.2% O-Swing%, and basically utilizing just two pitches his long-term outlook can also be questioned. Throw in a 40.8% Hard% entering the day, yet a .270 BABIP and 80.3% strand rate, and it all comes together for a risky investment down the stretch. Depending on your alternatives, selling high makes sense.
6) Sean Newcomb takes advantage of a big lead…
The Braves piled up 12 R on 16 H, scoring 5 runs in the first three innings and giving Newcomb a cushion to work with. He did a good job managing the game, finishing allowing 1 ER on 4 H and 4 BB, striking out 5, over 6.0 IP to improve to 9-5 with a 3.41 ERA over 111.0 IP. That said the control continues to be a significant concern, having entered the day with a 4.46 BB/9 and now walking 3+ batters in four straight starts (16 BB over 18.0 IP). That has always been the biggest concern, though he also lacks an impressive groundball rate (46.2% entering the day) and his 9.9% SwStr% and 28.9% SwStr% support the questionable control. Seen as a pitcher with upside, maybe he figures it out long-term but he’s a tough sell to trust for the remainder of ’18.
7) Jake Bauers continues to show off his upside…
While he had been slumping a bit of late, he broke out in a big way against Luis Severino (5.0 IP, 6 ER, 11 H, 0 BB, 8 K) and the Yankees by going 2-4 with 1 HR, 3 RBI and 2 R. He did strikeout twice, bringing him to 40 K over 148 AB in the Majors, though he’s also drawn 23 BB and is carrying a .355 OBP. He entered the day with a 9.7% SwStr% and 24.8% O-Swing%, so you can almost argue that he’s been too patient and experienced pitchers are simply taking advantage of it. He should be able to adjust in short order, and with a 45.3% Hard% and .297 BABIP entering the day, it’s clear that there’s significant upside in his .250 AVG. Throw in some obvious developing power (15 doubles, 2 triples, 6 HR) and the ability to chip in double-digit stolen bases and the upside is obvious. Consider him a must own in all formats.
8) An ill-timed implosion for Cole Hamels…
Trade rumors are swirling with the deadline about a week away, and Hamels name has been front and center. However potential suitors didn’t get a positive vibe last night, as he was tagged for 7 ER on 9 H and 2 BB, striking out 5, over 5.0 IP. He allowed 2 HR, as he watched his ERA rise to 4.72 as he’s now allowed 3+ ER in five straight starts (4+ ER in four of them). Over this stretch he’s allowed 25 ER on 37 H and 6 BB, striking out 22, over 22.0 IP (is ERA was 3.41 prior to this incredibly rough patch). Home runs have been the biggest issue, entering the day with a 1.73 HR/9, but he’s also been hit incredibly hard (43.7% Hard%) showing that this hasn’t been just a short-term issue. Maybe he’ll get revitalized by being traded to a contender, but with the way he’s going it’s hard to imagine a contender trusting him.
9) The struggles of Gio Gonzalez continue…
While Jhoulys Chacin pitched well on the other side (5.2 IP, 1 ER, 2 H, 0 BB, 9 K), it was disaster for Gonzalez who allowed 5 ER on 6 H and 5 BB, striking out 5, over 5.2 IP. A lack of control has fueled the somewhat mediocre numbers, with 4+ BB in four of his past five outings. Overall he’s managed to limit the damage (3 ER or fewer in each of his previous three starts), but he also hasn’t been able to work deep into games (6.0 IP is his longest outing since June 2) and that helps to explain going winless in his past nine starts. He’s also gone eight straight starts with 5 K or fewer, continuing to post a less than stellar 9.6% SwStr% entering the day. It’s interesting, though, because if he can suddenly find his control (he entered with a 4.25 BB/9) there’s enough potential to actually try and buy low (50.0% groundball rate, 30.0% Hard%, .309 BABIP). Don’t consider this a ringing endorsement, as we’ve been down on him for some time, but if the price is right he could prove worth the gamble.
10) A lackluster W for Lucas Giolito…
He allowed 3 ER on 5 H and 4 BB, striking out 5, over 6.0 IP to win his second straight start. Of course control continues to be a significant concern, as he’s walked 3+ batters in five straight starts and has 64 BB over 109.1 IP. Couple that with the 101 H and you get the unsightly 1.51 WHIP. Throw in a significant lack of swings and misses (7.5% SwStr%) and a lack of groundballs (39.8%) and what exactly is there to buy? There’s always been hype, and maybe he figures it out, but he’s not there yet (not even close) and it’s going to take a lot to convince us he’s worth utilizing in ’18. For now consider him a hands off option.
Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs
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