by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Aaron Nola stepped up and turned in a strong start, albeit in a no decision, as he tackled Fenway Park and allowed 1 ER on 4 H and 1 BB, striking out 6, over 8.0 IP. Jose Ramirez continued to emerge as one of the elite players in the game, going 2-4 with 2 HR, 2 RBI and 2 R (he’s now hitting .294 with 32 HR and 24 SB). You have to wonder what Carlos Martinez’ status is for the rest of the season, as he lasted just 4.2 innings in his return from the DL (2 ER, 4 H, 1 BB, 9 K) before being pulled due to what has been diagnosed as a “mild” shoulder strain. What else happened that we need to know about? Let’s dive in and take a look:
1) Has David Price figured things out…
It was a stellar outing against the Phillies, though he settled for a no decision, as he allowed 1 ER on 8 H and 1 BB, striking out 5, over 8.0 IP. He’s now allowed 1 ER over his past 14.1 IP, but is that enough to get anyone excited? While he hasn’t allowed a HR over this mini stretch, he entered the day with a 1.42 HR/9 and 39.5% groundball rate so we’d expect that to continue to be an issue. He also entered with an 8.9% SwStr%, and then generated just 8 swinging strikes in yesterday’s outing. In other words there’s little reason to get excited, and with his next start scheduled to come against the Yankees there’s a good chance that things come crashing back down. It’s a nice stretch, but we aren’t buying.
2) A strong rebound performance from Shane Bieber…
He settled for a no decision, but after allowing 7 ER over 1.2 IP in his previous outing fantasy owners will take this one. Pitching in Minnesota Bieber allowed 4 R (3 earned) on 6 H and 2 BB, striking out 7, over 6.1 IP. Of course he’s now allowed 3+ ER in five straight starts, with his ERA now sitting at 4.73 to go along with a 1.42 WHIP. Of course he owns a 51-to-10 strikeout-to-walk rate (and he posted a solid 14 swinging strikes yesterday) and should see a significant improvement upon his .378 BABIP entering the day (and there’s also room to improve upon his 71.7% strand rate). Throw in more than enough groundballs, at 46.1%, which should keep the home runs in check (1.20 HR/9) and the upside is there. He should continue as the team’s fifth start and help fantasy owners down the stretch.
3) Marcell Ozuna continues his power surge…
He went 1-4 with 1 HR, 1 RBI and 2 R yesterday, with the home run being a 10th inning walk-off. It’s his third straight game with a home run, and also extended his hitting streak to six games overall (9-26 with 3 HR, 7 RBI and 4 R). Obviously the overall numbers continue to underwhelm (.268 with 10 HR), but everything seems to point towards an improvement:
- He entered the day with a 44.5% Hard%, yet a .306 BABIP
- He has plenty of room to continue improving upon his 11.4% HR/FB
- He continues to show a solid approach (11.0% SwStr%, 31.8% O-Swing%)
Hopefully you bought low while you could, because the opportunity appears to be closing quickly.
4) Robbie Ray struggles with his control against the Rangers…
He finished allowing 4 ER on 2 H and 4 BB, striking out 6, over 5.1 IP as he needed 98 pitches. The big blow came courtesy of Shin-Soo Choo (who finished going 2-5 with 2 HR, 4 RBI and 2 R), and that could be the bigger concern over the control. He’s now allowed 13 HR over 66.0 IP as he’s failed to generate many groundballs (37.2% entering the day, 6 groundballs vs. 4 fly balls yesterday). Of course when you couple the home run risk with inconsistent control (it’s the third time in his past five games that he’s walked at least 3), a failure to go deep into games (5.1 IP or fewer in five of his past six starts) and an inflated Hard% (43.3%) and the overall package is uninviting. We all know the type of strikeout stuff he possesses, but that’s not always enough. While we wouldn’t give up on him, we’d also be cautious and consider him more of a plug and play option at this point.
5) An underwhelming performance from Freddy Peralta…
Sure he only allowed 1 ER with 6 K, but he lasted just 4.0 innings as he allowed 3 H and 4 BB while needing 98 pitches. The control was always the biggest concern hanging over him, and he now has 26 BB over 47.1 IP (3+ BB in each of his past five starts). That alone is enough to cap his value, regardless of the strikeout stuff (63 K, including 15 swinging strikes yesterday), but he’s also failed to generate nearly enough groundballs (31.1% entering the day) and has benefited from a .207 BABIP (despite a 38.5% Hard%). There’s a good chance that the Brewers acquire a starting pitcher prior to today’s deadline, and that will lead to Peralta being bumped from the rotation. Even if he sticks, the risk outweighs the reward.
6) Does Nick Martini warrant our attention…
The 28-year old rookie went 2-4 with 1 RBI and 1 R yesterday, out of the leadoff spot for Oakland, and is now hitting .325 with 0 HR, 7 RBI, 7 R and 0 SB over 40 AB. He’s shown an ability to get on base, with a .426 OBP, after posting a .415 mark at Triple-A prior to his recall. He posted a 15.4% walk rate before being recalled and has continued to show a strong approach in the Majors (he entered the day with a 4.3% SwStr% and 22.4% O-Swing%). That’s his strongest skill, however, as he doesn’t appear to bring much power or speed (in 536 PA last season he hit 8 HR with 6 SB). In OBP formats he should hold value, especially since he should continue to score some runs, but without much production in HR/RBI/SB his upside is going to be limited. Consider him nothing more than a streaming option.
7) A stellar performance from James Paxton in his return from the DL…
He outpitched Gerrit Cole (6.2 IP, 2 ER, 4 H, 2 BB, 8 K) to defeat the Astros, as Paxton tossed 7.0 shutout innings allowing just 3 H and 0 BB while striking out 8 (and needing just 82 pitches). Injuries continue to be the biggest issue for Paxton, as he now owns a 3.49 ERA and 1.05 WHIP over 21 starts and he’s continued to show strikeouts (163 K) and strong control (33 BB). His groundballs have been down this season, entering with a 38.1% groundball rate (and he had 4 groundballs vs. 9 fly balls last night), and that has led to more home runs allowed (1.21 HR/9). That’s something to monitor, especially if he’s going against one of the better offenses or pitching in a less friendly locale, but that’s not a significant red flag. Consider him among the best options in the league.
8) Ervin Santana fails to keep the ball in the ballpark…
In his second start since returning from the DL he allowed 4 ER on 6 H and 2 BB, striking out 1, over 5.1 IP (he’s now allowed 7 ER on 13 H and 3 BB over 10.1 IP in his two starts). Obviously it’s the 3 HR that looms large, and in his two starts he’s generated 5 groundballs vs. 19 fly balls. That’s going to continue to bring the risk of the long ball while significantly capping his value. Maybe if he brought strikeout potential we could overlook it a little bit more, but he has just a total of 11 swinging strikes over his two starts. We have to give him time to get up to speed, but considering the underlying metrics is anyone truly going to get excited? If you want to own him, keep him pinned to your bench until he shows at least a little bit of potential.
9) What has happened to Julio Teheran…
He got burned by another home run (Brian Anderson took him deep in the first inning, finishing the day 1-5 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 1 R) and again struggled with his control. Ultimately Teheran did get the W, allowing 3 ER on 4 H and 4 BB, striking out 4, over 5.0 IP. He’s now allowed 21 HR over 115.0 IP, but more notable is the continued disappearance of his control. After posting a 3.44 BB/9 last season (after a 1.96 the year before) he entered yesterday with a 4.34 BB/9 and has walked at least 3 batters in 15 of his 21 starts this season. He’s simply not fooling opponents, with a 28.9% O-Swing% ad 40.1% Hard% entering the day (compare the latter to a career 32.0% mark). If you haven’t written him off already, it’s getting harder and harder to believe in any type of a turnaround coming.
10) Is Steven Souza finally warming up…
He went 1-4 with 1 HR, 3 RBI and 1 R yesterday, giving him hits in 7 of 8 games since the All-Star Break (12-31 with 1 HR, 9 RBI and 5 R). No one is going to question the potential power/speed that he brings, but the biggest question is whether or not he can make consistent contact. He’s now struck out twice in each of his past three games and has 34 K over 112 AB overall. He did enter the day with a 10.3% SwStr%, far better than his 13.9% career mark, as well as a 23.8% O-Swing% (after a 24.4% last season). Couple that strong mark with a 40.0% Hard% and it’s very possible that it all comes together quickly for him. So far he’s showing signs, but they could easily get better. Buy him now before it’s too late.
Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs
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