10 Important Stories From 08/25/18 Box Scores: Taillon’s Breakout, Starters To Ignore For ’18 (Castillo/Giolitto), Legitimate Kluber Concerns & More

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

Nick Pivetta continued his struggles, allowing 5 ER on 7 H and 3 BB, striking out 4, over 6.2 IP in what ultimately was a no decision against the Blue Jays.  The emergence of Miguel Andujar continued, as he went 4-9 with 1 HR, 4 RBI and 2 R.  Kendrys Morales homered for the sixth straight game, finishing going 2-4 with 1 HR, 2 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) Luis Castillo’s disappointing 2018 continued…
Taking on the Cubs he was touched up for 5 ER on 5 H and 1 BB, striking out 2, over 3.1 IP, as he gave up home runs to both Daniel Murphy (1-5, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 R) and Kyle Schwarber (1-4, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 3 R).  Castillo now owns a 5.07 ERA over 26 starts, including allowing 5 ER in two of his past three outings.  Home runs have been the biggest issue (1.49 HR/9 entering the day) and he also is carrying a bit of an inflated Hard% (38.7%).  That said we’d expect better than his 68.2% strand rate and his 8.71 K/9 (13.7% SwStr%), 2.70 BB/9 and 43.9% groundball rate represent significantly more upside and the bulk of his issues have come on the road (ERA entering the day):

  • Home – 3.69
  • Road – 6.18

With yesterday’s start coming in Chicago, it speaks to the split even further.  At this point consider him a plug-and-play option at home, with the upside to figure it out and produce on the road as well.


2) Is it time to fully buy into Zack Wheeler’s run of success…
Taking on the Nationals he twirled 7.0 shutout innings allowing 6 H and 3 BB, striking out 4, to outduel Tanner Roark (6.0 IP, 1 R, 4 H, 0 BB, 7 K).  Wheeler has now allowed 2 ER or fewer in seven straight starts, bringing his ERA from 4.44 to 3.46 over that span.  While it would be easy to point towards “luck” as the reason for the strong stretch, given a .253 BABIP and 85.9% strand rate entering the day, but the fact is that he’s limited the Hard% all season long (27.1% in the first half, 21.0% in the second half).  Considering that he’s paired that with strikeouts (8.98 K/9 courtesy of an 11.4% SwStr% and 34.4% O-Swing%) and control (2.89 BB/9) all season long, what’s not to like?  He’s showing all the skills and while he may not be quite this good he should be a productive pitcher moving forward.


3) Aaron Sanchez returns to the Majors with a whisper…
He got bailed out and ultimately walked away with a no decision, but obviously it was a poor showing as he allowed 6 ER on 10 H and 2 BB, striking out 2, over 4.0 IP.  It’s easy to write it off as his first start back off the DL, but he was struggling prior to landing on the DL with a 4.52 ERA and he couldn’t find the strike zone routinely (5.08 BB/9).  He was showing more strikeout potential (10.0% SwStr%), but it also wasn’t translating with a 7.57 K/9 (7.07 over his MLB career).  Lack of control coupled with pedestrian strikeout numbers and pitching in the AL East?  Sure he could string together some solid starts, but it’s impossible to say that the risk simply doesn’t outweigh the potential reward.


4) A dominant Lucas Giolito silences the Tigers’ offense…
He tossed 7.0 strong innings allowing 1 ER on 3 H and 1 BB, striking out 6.  Overall it’s been a rough season for the once hyped pitcher, though he has allowed 3 ER or less in three straight starts with the key being improved control (4 BB over 19.0 IP).  He entered the day with a 4.84 BB/9, so obviously any strides there are going to be significantly helpful.  At the same time he hasn’t shown much in the way of strikeout stuff, including yesterday when he generated just 12 swinging strikes (8.3% SwStr% entering the day) while he also hasn’t gotten many groundballs (43.1% entering the day, helping him to a 1.44 HR/9).  It was a strong start, and that shouldn’t go overlooked, but given the underlying numbers there’s little reason to be buying for the remainder of ’18.  Maybe he’s figured something out, but for now the risk simply outweighs the potential reward.


5) Aaron Hicks erupts for a big double header…
While you can make a strong case for Sonny Gray as the star of the night for New York (6.1 IP, 0 R, 3 H, 1 BB, 7 K), is anyone willing to get excited about one outing and a likely ticket back to the bullpen?  Instead it was Hicks, who combined to go 5-9 with 1 HR, 3 RBI and 2 R.  He’s now hitting .253 with 21 HR and 10 SB on the season, though these were his first multiple hit games (he had 2+ hits in both of them) since August 13 and his first HR since August 9.  That said no one is going to complain about the power/speed, the issues is his average.  At the same time he’s shown a strong approach all season long (9.2% SwStr%, 20.9% O-Swing%) and with a 41.0% Hard% you’d expect a lot more than a .265 BABIP (especially since it’s not like he pops the ball up a lot, with an 8.5% IFFB).  It all comes together for a hitter who could really enjoy a big surge to finish things out and is worth buying in all formats.


6) Another brilliant outing for Jameson Taillon…
This time against the Brewers, Taillon was tremendous over 6.0 IP as he allowed 1 ER on 5 H and 0 BB, striking out 8.  Things were arguably even better when you look at the underlying numbers, as he generated 17 swinging strikes and was a groundball machine (8 groundballs vs. 2 fly balls).  After seeing his strikeouts fall he’s now whiffed 16 batters over his past 12.0 IP (with 35 swinging strikes backing up the surge).  Couple that with a 2.40 BB/9, 48.2% groundball rate and 30.5% Hard% entering the day and it’s easy to envision him continuing to thrive.  In fact you can argue that the numbers should be even better, considering a .303 BABIP, and with the potential to maintain the strikeout surge he has true breakout potential.  It’s hard to say that you can buy him low (3.49 ERA, 1.22 WHIP) but he’s worth targeting if he’s available in your league.


7) Is it time to be concerned about Corey Kluber…
You would’ve thought that he would dominate the Kansas City Royals, but instead he was tagged for 5 ER on 9 H and 2 BB, striking out 6, over 5.1 IP as Lucas Duda (3-4, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 3 R) took him deep.  Kluber has now allowed 3 ER in three of his past four starts and dating back to his last start prior to the All-Star Break (July 12) he’s allowed 3+ ER in five of his eight starts (including 4+ in three of them).  Overall, there are two numbers that would fairly bring concern:

  • SwStr% – 10.8% (after a 15.6% mark a year ago)
  • Hard% – 36.2% (career mark of 28.6%)

No one should be pushing the panic button, but would it be shocking to see some struggles continue?


8) Does John Gant deserve our attention…
German Marquez was slightly better (7.0 IP, 0 R, 3 H, 1 BB, 9 K) and his bullpen completely imploded, but don’t let that distract you from Gant’s performance.  Pitching in Coors Field he allowed 1 ER on 3 H and 5 BB, striking out 6, over 7.0 IP as he was generating groundballs (9 groundballs vs. 5 fly balls) and swinging strikes (15).  Over his past four appearances Gant has now allowed 5 ER over 22.2 IP and while control was an issue yesterday that hadn’t been the case (3 BB over 15.2 IP in his previous three).  He may not be a strikeout machine, but he has the potential to maintain a 7.5 K/9 (he was at 7.71 in eight Triple-A starts courtesy of a 12.9% SwStr%) and even better that.  With enough control and groundballs (44.8% entering the day) and at the very least he has streaming upside with more possible.  Keep him on your radars.


9) Robbie Ray pitches well, sort of…
Taking on the Mariners he allowed 1 ER with 7 K over 5.0 IP, with 16 swinging strikes.  That seems positive, but he also allowed 5 H and 4 BB quickly helping to sink the overall performance.  He’s now walked at least 4 batters in four of his past six starts, and that continues to be the biggest issue hanging over him (4.91 BB/9 entering the day).  Of course it’s not the only problem, as he also entered with a 1.56 HR/9 with an underlying issue in his groundball rate (37.9%).  No one is going to question his strikeout potential, but is that enough?  Not if he can’t figure out his control, at the least, though generating more groundballs as well would go a long ways.  That seems like too many questions, especially with just a month left in the season.


10) Rougned Odor continued his monster second half…
He went 3-4 with 1 HR, 3 RBI and 1 R yesterday, his second straight game with a HR and he already has 11 HR in 135 AB since the All-Star Break.  Obviously no one is going to necessarily buy into a 56.4% Hard% in the second half (entering the day), but he actually hasn’t had a month below 41% all season long so hitting the ball hard hasn’t been the issue.  Everyone knew he had home run potential, and his 9.2% HR/FB in the first half was destined to rise (he had posted rates of 17.0% and 16.0% the previous two seasons).  Throw in continued improvements in his approach (10.4% SwStr%, 35.8% O-Swing%) and there’s a ton to like.  He may never be a true .300 hitter, but a middle infielder with power and potential is hard to discount.

Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs


  1. Carlito says:

    Pick two for ROS…. Brian Anderson, Choo, Renfroe, Kepler

  2. larry says:

    Streamer question for next week

    Lynn vs Whitesox
    Teheran vs TB
    Gaviglio @ Balt.

    Which do you like best. Lynn has struggled the last two games but has been great vs Sox-Teheran has been pretty solid last couple of games. Gaviglio because it’s Balt.

    Thanks have have a great Sunday

  3. Barry says:

    Hello Professor,

    As I’ve mentioned before I only roster the minimum 9 bats and have a large pitching staff. I was fortunate to win the week going 8-2-2 even with only getting 1 AB from Springer and now unfortunately losing Mallex Smith to illness. I’ve dropped Smith as I have had to move Manaea to the only DL spot I have available.

    I’m looking at either adding a hot Morales or Melky for the short term, however I’m concerned about Morales losing AB’s in Miami this week. I’m looking to add power versus speed as I recently added C. Allen.

    Your thoughts are always appreciated.

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