10 Important Stories From 08/28/18 Box Scores: Are These Surging Starters For Real (Flaherty, Junis), Giving Up On “Breakouts” & More

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

For the second straight trip through the rotation the three NL Cy Young candidates took the hill on the same day, all with relatively strong results (though none of them were able to get a W):

  • Max Scherzer – 5.0 IP, 3 ER, 4 H, 0 BB, 5 K
  • Aaron Nola – 7.0 IP, 2 R (1 ER), 4 H, 2 BB, 8 K
  • Jacob deGrom – 8.0 IP, 1 ER, 8 H, 1 BB, 10 K

Carlos Carrasco had arguably the best night on the mound, tossing 7.2 shutout innings against the Twins allowing 4 H and 2 BB, striking out 11. Anthony Rendon delivered a game winning blast, finishing going 3-4 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 2 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) Jonathan Villar making a significant impact…
He went 3-5 with 1 RBI, 2 R and 1 SB yesterday, giving him SB in three straight games (5-10, 2 RBI, 4 R and 3 SB).  Over this span he’s drawn 3 BB vs. 1 K (and he has just 1 K over his past 14 AB).  Strikeouts continue to be his biggest issue, entering the day with a 27.5% strikeout rate overall, though since the trade to Baltimore he has the number down to 24.3%.  That would be enough, though his 13.6% SwStr% and 32.3% O-Swing% tell us that the number is deceiving.  If he shows any signs of maintaining these past four games he continues to show just how much of an impact he can make, as he has 4 HR and 7 SB over 98 AB since joining the Orioles.  Time will tell, but with SB hard to find he’s well worth the investment if you have the opportunity.


2) Another subpar showing for Kyle Gibson…
Taking on the Indians, in Cleveland, he allowed 5 ER on 8 H and 3 BB, striking out 4, over 5.1 IP.  He’s now allowed 9 ER over his past 10.0 IP (12 R total), though his 11 groundballs vs. 1 fly ball yesterday is promising.  You can argue that seeing this type of regression isn’t a surprise, despite entering with a .284 BABIP and 75.1% strand rate, as he also had a 38.9% Hard% and had posted BABIP of .330 and .328 the past two seasons.  Overall his strikeouts remain elevated, as he’s been generating more swings and misses (11.8% SwStr%, though he had just 9 swinging strikes yesterday).  Couple that with solid control and groundballs and he should remains a viable starting option moving forward, he’s just not the ace that people had been dreaming off earlier in the season.


3) Is Jose Peraza for real as a breakout candidate…
Hitting second, behind Billy Hamilton, Peraza went 4-5 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 4 R as he tries to become the next “breakout” for Cincinnati following Scooter Gennett and Eugenio Suarez’ footsteps (and further clouding the long-term picture for Nick Senzel).  Peraza is now hitting .293 with 9 HR, 44 RBI, 71 R and 20 SB on the season, and while you can argue that you’d like to see him refine his approach a little bit (35.2% O-Swing%) he has been making consistent contact (6.1% SwStr%, 10.7% strikeout rate) and hitting the ball on a line (25.8% line drive rate).  While he’s never going to be a significant source of power, he’s taken a step forward this season and looks like he has 12-15 HR with 25+ SB annual potential.  If that’s the case, he’s a potentially true difference maker for fantasy owners.


4) Julio Teheran takes a step back against the Rays…
He had allowed 4 ER over his previous three starts (20.0 IP), but it wasn’t a strong start yesterday as he allowed 4 ER on 6 H and 1 BB, striking out 5, over 5.2 IP.  As has become a common issue he allowed 1 HR, as he continues to be more of a fly ball pitcher (5 groundballs vs. 7 fly balls) with a 38.9% groundball rate entering the day.  He also has struggled with his control overall this season, with a 4.22 BB/9 entering the day, though he appears to have figured that out in August (10 BB over 31.1 IP).  If that’s the case, along with his ability to maintain a strikeout rate north of an 8.00 K/9 and there is potential…  Of course there are two significant assumptions, in that he will maintain his control and he can figure out how to keep the ball in the ballpark.  He’s worth the gamble, but don’t consider him a given.


5) Brian Dozier is finally showing his second half surge, hopefully…
He went 2-5 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 1 R yesterday, and has shown a few signs of getting hot since being acquired by the Dodgers.  While the average is still poor, he has hit 4 HR with 6 doubles in 24 games while he’s reduced his strikeouts (15.8% entering the day) and hit the ball exceptionally hard (40.3% Hard%).  Considering the elite approach he’s shown (6.4% SwStr%, 22.5% O-Swing%) and potential for growth in his HR/FB (11.1% overall, compared to rates of 18.4% and 16.8% the previous two seasons) and it’s easy to see the upside potential.  A notorious second half player, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him have a monster September.


6) Will Charlie Morton turn things back around…
He struggled for the second straight start, allowing 3 ER on 3 H and 4 BB, striking out 3, over 4.2 IP (9 ER on 10 H and 5 BB over his past 9.2 IP).  While he’s maintained an elevated strikeout rate and generates enough groundballs (48.3% entering the day), though he hasn’t gotten as many groundballs in the second half (46.2% entering the day, 5 groundballs vs. 6 fly balls yesterday) and that has led to a few more home runs (1.03 HR/9, before allowing another HR yesterday).  It all sounds like a regression could continue, especially when you factor in his 79.4% strand rate.  None of this means that he won’t be productive or that you should be cutting bait and running from him, it just means that you need to know what you are getting and proceed with a little bit of caution.


7) A dominant outing from Jakob Junis…
It was a complete game victory over the Tigers, allowing 2 ER on 6 H and 0 BB, striking out 7.  Of course he still owns a pedestrian 4.37 ERA and 1.29 WHIP, and while we want to point towards home run issues as the reason why (1.70 HR/9 entering the day).  While he did allow a home run yesterday, he had gone four straight games without giving one up and it helps to explain why he has now allowed 2 ER or fewer in five straight starts.  Of course he also entered the day with a bloated 41.1% Hard% and his 9.7% SwStr% didn’t support his 8.61 K/9.  With the Hard% remaining elevated in the second half (38.3% entering last night’s start) it’s not surprising that his BABIP (.274 to .371) and strand rate (76.1% to 68.3%) have both regressed.  That’s going to add to the intrigue, because despite the lackluster peripheral marks he’s actually been pitching exceptionally well.  The key is the home runs, and if he can’t maintain that the regression will come.  If he can, then he should have success.  There’s enough here to make it worth at least owning him to find out.


8) Jack Flaherty shuts down the Pirates…
He allowed 1 ER on 4 H and 0 BB, striking out 5, over 7.0 IP.  It just continues a dominant stretch, having allowed 2 ER or fewer in five straight starts and now owns a 2.87 ERA and 1.02 WHIP over 122.1 IP on the year.  Before we get too excited it’s easy to see a regression coming, as he entered the day with a .252 BABIP and 82.7% strand rate and carries the risk of home run issues (42.9% groundball rate, 7 groundballs vs. 8 fly balls yesterday).  Long-term there’s a lot to like, as he continues to show an ability to generate swings and misses (13.4% SwStr% entering the day, leading to an 11.24 K/9) and solid control (3.20 BB/9).  Don’t be surprised if he hits a few bumps down the stretch, but that could ultimately make him less expensive heading into 2019 (and create a tremendous buying opportunity).


9) Jacob Nix steps up and shows his potential…
While it had been a struggle over his past two starts (8 ER over 5.2 IP) Nix was dominant against the Mariners last night, allowing 1 ER on 8 H and 0 BB over 8.1 IP as e outpitched Felix Hernandez (7.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 H, 2 BB, 9 K).  Of course, before we get too excited keep in mind that Nix had 0 strikeouts and just 1 swinging strike on the evening.  That’s a scary low number, and while he should be a little bit better than that he had just a 7.01 K/9 over 52.2 IP at Double-A so it’s not like we can expect him to be a productive strikeout option.  He also isn’t generally a groundball machine (45.2% at Double-A), and while that may not cost him when pitching in Petco Park it makes him tough to trust on the road.  At best he’s a streaming option, but in general he’s going to be a tough sell.


10) Is it time to buy into Clay Buchholz…
He matched Madison Bumgarner (7.0 IP, 0 R, 4 H, 4 BB, 5 K) pitch for pitch, as Buchholz tossed 7.0 shutout innings allowing 5 H and 2 BB, striking out 3.  He now owns a 2.07 ERA and 1.02 WHIP over 87.0 IP (14 starts), to go along with 71 K vs. 18 BB.  Of course he also entered the day benefiting from a .257 BABIP and 85.0% strand rate, despite being hit relatively hard (37.8% Hard%) and lacking a significant strikeout rate.  That sounds like an implosion waiting to happen, doesn’t it?  The numbers are nice, but now isn’t the time to jump in and invest because it could ultimately blow up in your face.

Sources – Fangraphs, ESPN


  1. Marcus Storm says:

    Junis or Lynn ROS?

  2. Marcus Storm says:

    How would you rank these weekend streamers (for H2H points)?
    Lynn vs. DET
    Keller vs. BAL
    Gomber vs. CIN
    Mengden vs. SEA

  3. Marcus Storm says:

    I’m extra inquisitive today, but sincerely rely on your advice more than any other blog & blogger.

    …So I’m 1.5 weeks from playoffs and fighting this week H2H for #2 seed. I’m specifically looking to fill a hole with the best option possible to collect most points ROS that could also serve well this week. I have room for one player right now on my team by dropping a middling SP. Assuming context-neutral, what would be your thought process in weighing the following options?

    1. Speculate on Vlad Jr (surprisingly still on waivers)
    2. Hildenberger (only true closer available)
    3. Yarbrough (racking up well-pitched innings and occasional W)
    4. Streaming sub-optimal SPs in half-decent matchups 3 times a week (e.g. Gomber, Boyd, Glasnow, Barria, Lynn, Junis).

    Grateful for your patience today,

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      First off thanks for your support!

      I would def. speculate on Vlad, who I would be surprised if he wasn’t recalled at some point. Hildenberger would be the second option, after that I’d stream the SP

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