by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Talk about an MLB debut, as Francisco Arcia steps in for the traded Martin Maldonado and promptly goes 2-4 with 1 HR, 4 RBI and 1 R (of course he’s 28-years old and had 3 HR and a .375 SLG over 160 AB in the Pacific Coast League). Trea Turner helped to spark the Nationals offense, going 3-6 with 1 HR, 3 RBI and 2 R, finishing a double short of a cycle. Manny Machado hit his first home run as a Dodger, going 1-4 with 1 HR, 1 RBI and 1 R. What else happened on the field that we need to know about? Let’s dive into the box scores and take a look:
1) Another mediocre outing for Zack Godley…
Taking on the Cubs he allowed 4 ER on 7 H and 1 BB, striking out 6, over 5.2 IP (though he was better than Tyler Chatwood, who allowed 4 ER on 5 H and 6 BB over 4.2 IP). It’s interesting as Godley limited the walks, was able to get swings and misses (14 swinging strikes) and was generating an ample amount of groundballs (8 groundballs vs. 3 fly balls). His control has been the biggest issue this season (4.65 BB/9 entering the day), though he’s now walked 1 batter in three of his past four starts showing signs of turning things around. If he can get there, when coupled with the strikeouts and groundballs, there will be hope that he can rediscover what put him on maps entering the season. He’s been frustrating, but now isn’t the time to give up on him.
2) Is Jose Abreu finally getting going…
He went 2-4 with 2 HR, 3 RBI and 3 R yesterday, extending his hitting streak to five games (8-20, 3 HR, 6 RBI and 6 R). He entered the day hitting .255, with his BABIP of .287 falling far short of his career norm (.329). It’s interesting because he hasn’t been putting the ball in the air excessively (34.9%) and his Hard% is around his career average (34.2% vs. 35.7% for his career). The “knock” would be too many pops (14.0%), but that’s not enough to justify this type of drop. Of course the Hard% has been down significantly in recent months (27.5% in June, 24.0% in July), but things appear to be turning. Don’t be surprised if he continues to heat up and ultimately posts a big second half.
3) A trio of Phillies hit two home runs…
The Phillies totaled 7 HR against the Reds, with three players going deep twice:
- Rhys Hoskins – 3-5, 2 HR, 2 RBI, 2 R
- Maikel Franco – 2-5, 2 HR, 2 RBI, 2 R
- Nick Williams – 4-5, 2 HR, 2 RBI, 2 R
The performances for Franco and Williams are noteworthy, as trade rumors swirl. Franco has been particularly hot, with this being his second 2 HR game in the past four (7-18, 4 HR, 5 RBI, 5 R), though Williams’ second home run coming against a southpaw is almost as important (but not quite). Williams is looking like a platoon bat, entering the day with a .315 SLG against LHP and .466 against RHP. Keep that in mind, especially with it likely that the team acquires a platoon partner ahead of the deadline.
4) Jonathan Schoop continues his home run binge…
He went 2-5 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 1 R yesterday, giving him a home run in four straight games (and five of his past six). He also is on a nine game hitting streak, with four straight multi-hit games (10-18 with 4 HR, 8 RBI and 5 R over these past four). Of course he continues to bring a questionable approach, with 18 K vs. 0 BB over 85 AB in July (74 K vs. 12 BB overall). It’s been an overall step backwards for Schoop, having entered the day with a 14.3% SwStr%, 41.6% O-Swing% and minuscule 26.9% Hard% (he was at 26.6% in ’16 and 36.1% in ’17). He has seen a spike since the calendar turned to July, at 34.4%, a mark he can maintain (though he won’t keep up with a .397 BABIP). He should continue on and have a strong second half, so don’t consider him a must sell option, but if someone believe he’s going to keep up this pace and party like it’s 2017 cash in while you can.
5) The usability of Jake Junis has come and gone…
Sure it was against the Yankees, but he allowed 7 R (3 earned) on 9 H and 2 BB, striking out 3, over 4.2 IP. He’s now gone 5.1 IP or less in each of his past four starts and has watched his ERA go from 3.62 after his June 3 start all the way to 5.06 (with a DL stint mixed in). Home runs have been his biggest issue, entering the day with a 2.04 HR/9 (and he allowed a HR to Didi Gregorius yesterday). You can argue that he has more upside than this, but he’s not going to post gaudy strikeout numbers (9.3% SwStr%, before only 8 swinging strikes yesterday) and the long ball issues aren’t going to suddenly disappear. Pitching for a poor team, there’s far more downside than upside for the rest of ’18.
6) What to make of Steven Matz’ performance…
Taking on the Pirates it was a bit of a mixed bag for Matz, who allowed 4 ER on 3 H and 2 BB, striking out 9, over 6.0 IP to earn the W. The issue was a pair of home runs, something that continues to plague the southpaw (he entered with a 1.34 HR/9) despite posting a solid groundball rate (50.2%). We would expect things to improve in that regard (15.0% HR/FB), and with this type of strikeout day you’d think that expectations were high. However he was extremely dependent on called strikes (29 called strikes vs. just 9 swinging strikes), and entering with an 8.3% SwStr% and 23.2% O-Swing% there obviously are questions about his upside. He should remain solid, especially if the home runs shrink, but cashing in and selling high isn’t the craziest idea.
7) Has Kyle Gibson truly figured things out…
He was tremendous against the Red Sox last night, allowing 1 ER on 4 H and 2 BB, striking out 7, over 8.0 IP as he was generating swinging strikes (17) and getting opponents to pound the ball into the ground (12 groundballs vs. 6 fly balls). It was a nice bounce back after allowing 4 ER against the Royals in his last outing and he now owns a 3.42 ERA and 1.21 WHIP over his 21 starts. He’s done a tremendous job improving his strikeout stuff this season, entering the day with a career best 12.0% SwStr%, and the key is going to be maintaining an elevated groundball rate (after posting a 51.1% in June he entered yesterday with a 37.1% mark in July). Doing that will continue to help limiting home runs, and while he may not be an elite starter he should at least be a solid SP3/SP4 moving forward. As long as you are valuing him as such, he’s going to be a solid option.
8) Has Joc Pederson truly emerged with post-hype value…
He went 2-5 with 1 RBI and 1 R yesterday, putting him a .272 with 14 HR, 39 RBI, 42 R and 1 SB over 254 AB. One of the big keys is his 44 K vs. 29 BB, as he’s maintained the improved SwStr% he showed last season (9.5% in ’17, 9.6% in ’18). Couple that with the potential for his BABIP to rise (.273, despite a 43.5% Hard%) and a reduction in his popup rate (7.7%) and things look even better. You can argue that he’s gotten too fly ball centric (44.0%) and he does remain a true platoon player:
- LHP – .135/.154/.216
- RHP – .292/.381/.599
As long as the Dodgers don’t have a slew of southpaws on the schedule, it does appear that he’s found his footing and is a strong play moving forward.
9) Is there value in Trevor Cahill moving forward…
He got the W against the Rangers, but it wasn’t impressive as he allowed 5 ER on 7 H and 3 BB, striking out 5, over 5.0 IP. It shouldn’t come as a complete surprise, as there was a distinct split in his numbers entering the day:
- Home – 0.80 ERA
- Road – 5.92 ERA
Of course a lot of that is due to luck, as he’s not going to maintain his 99.2% strand rate or .215 BABIP pitching in Oakland. You could say that a 55.6% strand rate on the road also should improve, but he’s been more home run prone (1.11 HR/9) and has been hit hard overall (41.7% Hard%). In other words, don’t buy into the hype.
10) Should we be buying Dereck Rodriguez…
He settled for a no decision against the Brewers, allowing 2 ER on 6 H and 2 BB, striking out 5, over 6.0 IP. His one true mistake was a home run to Christian Yelich (3-5, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 3 R) and over his 59.0 innings in the Majors he owns a 2.75 ERA and 1.15 WHIP. He’s done it with strong control (2.21 BB/9 entering the day), but lacks that secondary skill to really make him trustworthy as he hasn’t generated a lot of strikeouts (7.13 K/9 courtesy of a pedestrian 8.8% SwStr%) or groundballs (39.9%). While he may be a solid streamer when pitching at home, the risk is far too great to trust him in most circumstances.
Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs, MILB.com
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