10 Important Stories From 08/11/18 Box Scores: Potential Buy Low Bats (Mancini/Semien), Candidates To Cut (Lester) & More

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

It was a stellar start for David Price, who shutdown the Orioles with 6.0 scoreless innings allowing 5 H and 0 BB while striking out 10 (courtesy of 21 swinging strikes).  Trevor Bauer continues to roll, shutting down the White Sox as he allowed 1 ER on 2 H and 0 BB, striking out 8, over 6.1 IP to earn the W.  On the flipside, the once hyped Danny Duffy continues to be a fantasy non-factor as he allowed 6 ER on 8 H and 1 BB, striking out 2, over 5.1 IP against the Cardinals.  What else happened on the field that we need to know about?  Let’s dive into the box scores and take a look:

 

1) Miguel Andujar continues his power surge…
Posting his fourth multi-hit game in his past five (9-21, 3 HR, 7 RBI and 6 R), Andujar went 2-4 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 2 R.  Since the All-Star Break he’s now gone 29-80 (.363) with 5 HR and 16 RBI as he continues to seemingly get stronger and stronger.  There is a little bit of risk considering his seemingly aggressive approach (he entered the day with a 37.6% O-Swing%), though it hasn’t impact his ability to make contact (18.2% strikeout rate) or hit the ball hard (35.8% Hard%).  You’d think that if he was going to be exposed that opposing pitchers would’ve already made the adjustment, so the fact that he’s only getting better speaks volumes…  Of course he entered the day with a 44.2% O-Swing, 13.5% SwStr% and benefiting from a .418 BABIP.  In other words they have adjusted, and sooner or later the luck will turn and the numbers could spiral.  In dynasty leagues continue forward, but in redraft leagues sell high now.

 

2) Has the time come to cut bait on Jon Lester…
Taking on the Nationals it was a disastrous outing, led by Ryan Zimmerman (2-3, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 2 R), as Lester got tagged for 9 R (8 ER) on 10 H and 1 BB, striking out 5, over 3.2 IP.  He’s now allowed 17 ER over 13.2 IP in his past three starts and has allowed 4+ ER in four of his past five (since July 1 his ERA has ballooned from 2.18 to 3.89).  We all knew there was a risk of regression, but this seems extreme.  That said he continues to show a lack of swinging strikes (8.1% SwStr% entering the day) leading to poor strikeout numbers (6.89 K/9), home run issues (1.31 HR/9 courtesy of a 37.6% groundball rate, before 3 HR allowed yesterday) and a career worst 33.7% Hard% (26.8% for his career).  In other words this may not be simply a short-term slump, so it’s impossible to trust him the rest of the way.

 

3) Tyler Austin goes deep in his Minnesota debut…
He was DH’ing and hitting fifth, finishing 1-4 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 1 R.  Acquired as part of the Lance Lynn trade, Austin is no stranger to the Majors (he’s now hitting .255 with 9 HR and 22 RBI over 137 AB in ’18) and was hitting .263 with 3 HR in 9 games for Minnesota’s Triple-A affiliate prior to being recalled.  Of course over his MLB career he’s looked more like a platoon player than anything:

  • RHP – .194/.238/.381
  • LHP – .292/.365/.596

With an eye towards 2019, where Austin could assume the 1B job, he should have an opportunity to be more than that the rest of the way.  There’s no questioning his power and he’s shown potential in the past, so if you need a boost at corner infield (or if you are rebuilding) he’s worth the flier.

 

4) Has Robbie Ray turned the corner…
He needed 106 pitches to get through 5.0 IP, so it’s hard to say he was efficient or “stellar”.  That said, while he settled for a no decision he allowed 2 ER on 4 H and 2 BB, striking out 6, over 5.0 IP against the Reds.  Matt Harvey was even better (7.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 H, 1 BB, 7 K), and part of Ray’s problem was that while he was getting swinging strikes (17) the Reds were also continuously fouling the ball off (27) and that forced his pitch count up significantly.  The questions for Ray continue to be his control as well as a groundball rate that indicates that home run issues are going to persist (he entered the day with a 1.64 HR/9 courtesy of a 37.4% groundball rate, and he generated just 2 fly balls vs. 6 groundballs yesterday).  There’s clearly upside and he has the potential to be among the elite strikeout pitchers in the game, but it could come at a significant cost (especially given his 43.9% Hard%).  That’s going to make him a tough sell as a buy low candidate over the final stretch.

 

5) Is Trey Mancini set for an extended hot streak…
He went 4-7 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 2 R over yesterday’s double header, giving him a modest six-game hitting streak (9-24 with 2 HR, 5 RBI and 4 R).  That may not mean much in the scheme of things, but it’s clearly a step forward for a player who entered the day hitting .230 with 16 HR over 404 AB.  He’s been even better since the All-Star Break, going 26-83 (.313) with 5 HR, 12 RBI and 12 R.  He entered the day with a 43.0% Hard% in the second half, helping him to a 25.0% HR/FB (which is something he can maintain).  While we’d like to see a few less groundballs (48.3% in the second half), the true key is going to be his ability to make consistent contact (13.1% SwStr% overall) and refining his approach (33.7% O-Swing%, but a 30.8% in the second half).  He’s hitting in the middle of the lineup and plays in a hitter friendly ballpark, so while there is ideal strikeout risk there shouldn’t be much of a cost and that makes him worth the gamble.

 

6) Is it time to stop the Dan Straily hype machine…
There had been some chatter about Straily becoming a viable fantasy option, but things have gone south quickly.  Taking on the Mets yesterday he allowed 2 ER on 4 H and 4 BB, striking out 5, over 4.2 IP as he settled for a no decision.  He’s now walked 9 batters over his past two starts (10.0 IP), an issue that’s been there all season long (he entered with a 4.45 BB/9).  Couple that with a complete lack of groundballs (33.8% entering the day, 3 groundballs vs. 5 fly balls yesterday), a bloated 44.4% Hard% (which shows his .261 BABIP and 75.3% strand rate could regress significantly) and a pedestrian strikeout rate and you wonder why the hype was there to begin with.  If you jumped on the bandwagon, jump off now.

 

7) Has Jack Flaherty truly entrenched himself as a viable fantasy option…
He was terrific yesterday against the Royals, allowing 2 ER on 3 H and 3 BB, striking out 9, over 7.0 IP to improve to 6-6 with a 3.22 ERA and 1.08 WHIP over 19 starts.  He now has 7+ K in five straight starts, and with a 12.8% SwStr% (before he generated 17 swinging strikes) there’s a good chance he continues to produce strong strikeout numbers.  We’d like to see a few more groundballs (42.9% entering the day, 5 groundballs vs. 6 fly balls yesterday), but with solid control (3.08 BB/9 in the Majors, but 31 BB over 116.2 IP at Triple-A over the past two seasons) there’s a lot to like.  There is the risk of a small regression considering his luck metrics (.267 BABIP, 80.7% strand rate), but it’s not enough to shy away.  There may be a bump or two along the way, but he should be a viable option down the stretch.

 

8) Walker Buehler conquers Coors Field…
He wasn’t alone, as Kyle Freeland also pitched exceptionally well (7.0 IP, 2 ER, 6 H, 2 BB, 10 K), but Buehler has more upside and was even better tossing 7.0 shutout innings allowing 4 H and 3 BB, striking out 6, but had to settle for a no decision.  All of the underlying metrics were impressive, generating 10 groundballs vs. 4 fly balls and 15 swinging strikes.  The biggest question is going to be how many innings he’s allowed to throw this season, because there’s little question that he belongs a spot in the Dodgers starting five.  He threw 98.0 innings last season and is currently at 97.1 in 2018.  That means he may only have 30-35 innings left in the tank this season, so you have to wonder if a move to the bullpen (which would allow him to be available deep into the season) is inevitable?  Time will tell, but definitely be willing to ride him while he’s taking the ball every five days.

 

9) Is there reason to believe in Trevor Williams…
He shutdown the Giants last night, tossing 7.0 shutout innings allowing 5 H and 1 BB, striking out 2, to improve to 10-8 with a 3.66 ERA and 1.24 WHIP over 123.0 IP.  Over his past five starts he’s allowed 2 ER on 27 H and 9 BB over 29.0 IP, which will obviously open some eyes.  However he’s had just 14 K over this stretch (6.21 K/9 entering yesterday) and also has shown very little ability to generate groundballs (39.7% before generating 9 groundballs vs. 9 fly balls yesterday).  Without elite control (3.10 BB/9) is there any reason to really be interested?  This has been a very strong stretch but it’s all shine and little substance.  An implosion is likely coming, so don’t expect him to maintain this for very long.

 

10) Marcus Semien explodes against the Angels…
While Edwin Jackson was doing it on the mound (7.1 IP, 0 R, 3 H, 3 BB, 6 K), Semien took Tyler Skaggs (3.1 IP, 7 ER, 10 H, 1 BB, 5 K) deep twice as he finished the day going 3-5 with 2 HR, 4 RBI and 3 R.  It’s been a disappointing season overall as he’s still hitting just .259 with 9 HR, 43 RBI, 65 R and 12 SB over 467 AB.  Is it possible that last season’s wrist injury is still zapping him of his power?  Or is it that 2016 was the aberration, as his HR/FB (14.7%) stands out as significantly different than his career (9.9% and never above 10%)?  We’d be leaning towards the latter, but even so he’d carry 15/15 potential with an ability to make contact (8.1% SwStr%) and a knowledge of the strike zone (26.5% O-Swing%).  While his value may not be what we had expected, there’s value there all the same.

Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs, MILB.com

Make sure to check out all of our Midseason Prospect Rankings:

First Baseman
Second Base
Shortstop
Third Baseman
Outfielder
Pitcher

2 comments

  1. Frederic Kass says:

    Professor, Do you recommend any moves?
    Steals not a priority. Thanks!

    C Posey
    1B Rizzo
    2B Odor
    SS/3B Bregman
    SS/3B Arenado (Day-to-Day)
    OF Bellinger
    OF Bentiendi
    OF Soto
    U Machado
    U Dickerson
    Bn Devers
    Bn R Zimmerman
    Free agents: Renfroe, A Diaz, J Bradley, Zobrist

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      I am a fan of Renfroe but there’s no easy drop there. Could argue his upside is higher than Zimmerman’s but with the way latter just put up numbers it’s a tough sell todat

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