by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Alex Cobb continued to pitch well, allowing 2 ER on 3 H and 3 BB, striking out 6, over 6.0 IP in a no decision against the Yankees. Kendrys Morales finished going 1-4 with 1 HR, 1 RBI and 1 R, his fifth straight game with a home run (6 HR and 9 RBI over this stretch). Mike Trout made his long awaited return, going 2-3. What else happened on the field that we need to know about? Let’s dive into the box scores and take a look:
1) Alec Mills shines in first MLB start…
Sure it was against Cincinnati, but Mills allowed just 1 R on 3 H and 1 BB, striking out 8, over 5.2 IP as he ultimately had to settle for a no decision (Matt Harvey, who appears set to finish the year with the Reds, allowed 1 ER on 5 H and 1 BB, striking out 6, over 5.1 IP). Mills was showing the full array of skills, generating 13 swinging strikes and 6 groundballs vs. 3 fly balls. While it was impressive, it doesn’t resemble the numbers he had posted over 23 starts (124.2 IP) at Triple-A:
- Strikeouts – 7.80 K/9 (8.9% SwStr%)
- Control – 2.96 BB/9
- Groundballs – 40.2%
It was an impressive start, but don’t get excited. If he sticks in the rotation it won’t be long before he’s exposed.
2) Will a monster day from Luke Voit lead to more AB…
His first home run came off Alex Cobb and his second was the game winner in the tenth, as Voit finished going 3-5 with 2 HR, 4 RBI and 2 R. An under-the-radar deadline addition, he has 3 HR over 34 AB in the Majors this season after hitting 10 HR (along with 18 doubles and 2 triples) over 263 AB at Triple-A. He’s always shown a strong eye at the plate (he had an 18.1% strikeout rate and 11.4% walk rate at Triple-A for the Cardinals prior to the trade) and has proven capable of hitting the ball extremely hard in the Majors (40.2% Hard% over 156 PA in the past two seasons). Couple that upside with the struggles of Greg Bird (.127 with 2 HR in 71 AB in August) and it’s easy to envision Voit getting more and more opportunity (barring an acquisition from outside the organization). Those in deeper formats will want to be paying close attention and consider taking the gamble.
3) A solid return from Michael Fulmer…
Making his first start since July 14, Fulmer looked good against the White Sox. He only threw 77 pitches, but turned them into 4.2 shutout innings allowing 2 H and 1 BB, striking out 4, against the White Sox. He generated 13 swinging strikes during his abridged outing, showing that he was on his game. Prior to getting hurt he wasn’t really showing any of the skills we look for, considering a 45.6% groundball rate, 3.05 BB/9 and fairly pedestrian 10.5% SwStr% (7.47 K/9). There’s room for upside in both his strikeouts and control, while he also should improve upon his 38.8% Hard%. While he isn’t necessarily an ace, if someone in your league had lost hope he’s worth scooping up as he has the potential to finish strong.
4) Willy Adames fills the box score against the Red Sox…
He finished the day going 2-3 with 1 HR, 2 RBI, 3 R and 1 SB, putting him at .261 with 8 HR and 6 SB over 184 AB in the Majors. There was always a question as to whether or not he’d be able to put up enough HR and/or SB, and while he likely won’t maintain this type of power pace (he entered the day with a 15.9% HR/FB, compared to a 5.7% mark at Triple-A prior to his recall) these types of numbers would be more than enough. The bigger issue is now his ability to make consistent contact, as he entered with a 29.5% strikeout rate courtesy of a 12.0% SwStr% in the Majors (and he struck out again yesterday, giving him 60 K over 184 AB). There’s a lot to like, but without significant power (and the likely impending regression) the strikeouts are going to loom large. He’s not unusable, but be prepared to move on.
5) A strong bounce back from Sean Manaea…
He allowed just an unearned run on 5 H and 1 BB over 5.0 IP against the Twins, as he was pulled after throwing just 67 pitches (50 strikes). Obviously the team has the bullpen to give a quick hook if need be, and after allowing 6 ER over 4.0 IP in his previous start it was nice to get him out feeling good. That said the underlying numbers are hardly impressive:
- 1 K courtesy of a mere 3 swinging strikes
- 6 groundballs vs. 8 fly balls
While he’s continued to show strong control, he entered the day without many strikeouts (6.75 K/9) and continuing the be hit hard (38.5% Hard%) since the All-Star Break. The difference from his first half is a significant swing in luck (.222 BABIP and 77.5% strand rate vs. .337 and 67.8%). With the lack of strikeouts and the Hard%, it’s easy to envision the struggles continuing.
6) Yonder Alonso breaks out with a home run barrage…
He went 2-4 with 2 HR, 3 RBI and 2 R yesterday, though even with the big performance he’s still hitting just .192 with 4 HR (and 1 double) over 78 AB in August. The 31-year old has continued to take a more fly ball approach this season, entering the day with a 41.4% fly ball rate, and that has helped to suppress his BABIP (.272 entering the day). Couple that with his struggles in his approach (11.3% SwStr%, 33.8% O-Swing%) and it’s no surprise that he’s struggled this season. While he has the potential to post power games like last night, he’s a pure platoon player at this point (.471 SLG vs. RHP, .371 vs. LHP) and that’ll further limit his potential. At this point he’s a better fit in daily formats, but he’s a low-end option regardless.
7) Is it time to give up on Zack Godley…
We keep waiting for him to figure something out, though the results just never seem to materialize. Taking on the Mariners last night he allowed 5 ER on 7 H and 0 BB, striking out 7, over 5.0 IP to fall to 13-7 with a 4.59 ERA. What really hurt him yesterday was a lack of groundballs, as he generated 1 groundball vs. 7 fly balls and was beat by a home run (Mitch Haniger, who finished 3-5 with 1 HR, 1 RBI and 2 R, took him deep. Home runs have not been an issue, as he has generally generated ample groundballs (he entered the day with 48.1% groundball rate in August being his “worst” mark of the season). Instead it’s an increased walk rate (4.12 BB/9) and Hard% (37.1%) that has led to his issues. Entering the day with a .327 BABIP and 69.1% strand rate, there continued to be upside in the numbers. It’s been a highly frustrating season, but keeping him stashed and seeing if he can figure it out down the stretch isn’t unreasonable.
8) Marwin Gonzalez is finally showing signs of a hot stretch…
His performance is often overshadowed, either by the stars on the team or the latest youngster who is trying to make an impact (currently that’s Tyler White). While that has generally allowed Gonzalez’ struggles to fly under-the-radar, don’t let it also overshadow his hot streak. After going 2-5 with 1 HR, 4 RBI and 2 R yesterday he’s now on a modest five-game hitting streak (8-22, 3 HR, 8 RBI and 5 R). Even while the results haven’t been there he’s maintained a strong approach (9.6% SwStr%, 31.2% O-Swing% entering the day), hit the ball relatively hard (36.4% Hard%) and shown more upside in the power department (12.0% HR/FB, compared to 18.1% in ’17). He’s really started to produce since the All-Star Break, at .294 with 7 HR in just 102 AB. While it’s gone unnoticed by many, make sure you buy in and ride the hot streak.
9) Is Justin Turner’s big August for real…
The Dodgers racked up 11 R on the Padres, allowing Rich Hill to settle in and thrive (6.0 IP, 0 R, 2 H, 1 BB, 8 K). Turner was front and center in the offense, going 2-5 with 1 HR, 3 RBI and 1 R. It just furthers what’s been a monster August, as he’s slashed .392/.477/.716 with 5 HR and 13 RBI over 74 AB. Obviously he’s not going to maintain that type of pace, but as he’s struggled with missed time this season he’s finally found his footing. Since the All-Star Break he’s posted a massive 49.2% Hard% while making consistent contact (15.5% strikeout rate). When you put those two things together it’s no surprise that he’s posting gaudy results, and while he’s eventually going to slow down it doesn’t mean that the production is going to disappear. You definitely want to use him while he’s locked in.
10) A strong return from Dereck Rodriguez…
Making his first start off the DL Rodriguez pitched well against the Rangers, allowing 2 ER on 3 H and 3 BB, striking out 4, over 6.0 IP as he ultimately settled for a no decision. It’s been a stellar season for Rodriguez, who now owns a 2.30 ERA and 1.00 WHIP over 86.0 IP in the Majors. While he’s shown strong control, the other numbers don’t resemble this type of pitcher:
- Strikeouts – 7.31 K/9
- Control – 2.14 BB/9
- Groundballs – 40.4%
He hasn’t shown upside in the strikeout department (8.4% SwStr% entering the day) and sooner or later you would think home runs would become an issue (0.45 HR/9). Throw in a .251 BABIP despite a 42.4% Hard% and it’s easy to envision disaster. While he’s been a nice story, now isn’t the time to buy.
Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs