10 Important Stories From 08/30/18 Box Scores: Breakout Pitchers We’re Buying, Those To Avoid In September & More

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

Gleyber Torres continued his resurgence, going 3-4 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 1 R (he now has 7 multi-hit games over his past 12 games, with 3 HR in his past 7 games).  It was another subpar showing for Rick Porcello, this time against the White Sox, as he allowed 4 ER on 8 H and 3 BB, striking out 7, over 5.0 IP (12 ER on 20 H and 6 BB over his past 17.0 IP).  Justin Verlander took a loss, but he was a strikeout machine as he allowed 3 ER on 5 H and 1 BB, striking out 11, over 5.1 IP.  What else happened on the field that we need to know about?  Let’s dive into the box scores and take a look:


1) Can Wade Miley continue to hold value…
He allowed 1 ER on 5 H and 1 BB, striking out 6, over 7.1 IP but ultimately had to settle for a no decision against the Reds.  In 11 starts (57.2 IP) for the Brewers he now owns a 2.18 ERA and 1.25 WHIP, though when you start looking at the metrics behind it you have to wonder exactly how he’s doing the job.  Entering the day he owned:

  • Strikeouts – 5.90 K/9 courtesy of a 9.8% SwStr% (only 4 swinging strikes yesterday)
  • Walks – 3.75 BB/9
  • Groundballs – 49.7% (9 groundballs vs. 7 fly balls yesterday)

So there’s no standout skill, plus he carried a 43.7% Hard% into yesterday.  Things are going to go south, and likely in a hurry, so now is not the time to buy in.


2) Has Mike Clevinger officially emerged as a Top 40 starter…
He tossed a gem against the Twins yesterday, allowing 2 R (0 earned) on 4 H and 1 BB, striking out 9, over 6.2 IP.  He had the swing and miss pitch working, with 17 swinging strikes yesterday, after entering the day with an 11.6% SwStr%.  It’s become clear that he can post a strikeout per inning and the control has taken a significant step forward this season (he entered the day with a 3.02 BB/9).  The real question facing Clevinger is whether or not he’ll ultimately be burned by home runs, entering with a 39.2% groundball rate in ’18 (39.2% over 338.1 career innings as well).  It hasn’t been an issue thus far (0.88 HR/9 in ’18), but it’s something worth noting.  There’s also a 78.2% strand rate to contend with, and those two questions could help to keep him just outside the Top 40…  At the same time, if he’s truly figured out how to keep the ball in the ballpark he’s far better than that.  There’s some risk, but his 3.17 ERA and 1.21 WHIP shows his potential reward.


3) Is it time to truly believe in Niko Goodrum…
He filled the box score yesterday (as did many of the Tigers, who combined for 5 HR, including a 2 HR day for Victor Martinez), going 4-5 with 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 R and 1 SB, and while he’s hitting .233 overall he’s added 14 HR and 10 SB.  He’s not a significant power hitter, and it’s not that he’s taken an extreme fly ball approach (34.5% fly ball rate entering the day) that would support a poor BABIP.  Of course a .286 BABIP isn’t unreasonable, though you’d think a 38.0% Hard% would yield a little bit higher of a mark.  That offers a little upside, though a 27.6% strikeout rate courtesy of a 13.5% SwStr% looms large.  He needs to cut those marks down, even a little bit, which would allow him to raise his average into the .250-.260 range.  If he could get there, with his versatility and 15/15 potential, he’d hold significant potential value.  He’s worth monitoring and owning, but he’s not there quite yet.


4) John Gant could hold value down the stretch…
Taking on the Pirates he tossed 5.2 shutout innings, allowing 3 H and 3 BB while striking out 6 (and also added a solo home run).  He’s now allowed 2 ER or fewer in five straight starts and has a 3.34 ERA over 91.2 IP in the Majors (21 appearances, 14 starts), though there are a few caution flags that shouldn’t be ignored.  Over his past three starts (17.0 IP) he’s walked 10 batters, and control he’s something he’s generally struggled with when he gets a shot in the Majors (4.05 BB/9 over 153.1 IP).  He’s also been hit extremely hard, entering the day with a 45.6% Hard%, and that tells you that his .245 BABIP could balloon in a hurry.  Throw in pedestrian strikeout (7.53 K/9) and groundball (45.6%) rates entering the day and it’s obvious that the risk far outweighs the potential reward.


5) Is it time to jump off the Mike Foltynewicz train…
Taking on the Cubs he allowed 5 R (4 earned) on 6 H and 2 BB, striking out 5, over 6.0 IP.  It snaps a streak of five straight starts allowing 2 ER or fewer, so you aren’t going to want to overreact to one poor outing.  Of course we also can’t ignore the obvious risk that’s involved, having entered the day with a .266 BABIP and 80.1% strand rate entering the day and while a 34.7% Hard% isn’t a terrible number it also helps to represent the potential downside.  There could be a regression at any time, and it’s possible that last night’s outing is only the start.  Couple that with potential home run issues (41.6% groundball rate, 0.87 HR/9 before allowing a home run yesterday).  That’s not to say that Foltynewicz isn’t usable down the stretch, just don’t ignore the risks.


6) Has the time actually come to buy Lucas Giolito…
No one would’ve trusted him against the Red Sox, but he delivered an excellent outing as he allowed 1 ER on 2 H and 2 BB, striking out 8, over 6.1 IP.  It’s his second straight stellar outing (2 ER over his past 13.1 IP) and he’s issued 6 BB over his past 25.1 IP.  That’s among the big keys to his turnaround, as he entered the day with a 4.67 BB/9.  Of course he hadn’t shown much in the way of strikeouts (6.41 K/9) or groundballs (43.2%), though he has shown significantly better strikeouts (40 K over 37.1 IP in August) and more groundballs (55.4% in August, before getting 6 groundballs vs. 4 fly balls yesterday).  He’s evolved his pitch mix throughout the season, throwing more sinkers (25.87%) and changeups (23.36%) in August.  He deserves a real in-depth look, but as of today he’s worth the investment to find out if this breakout is for real.


7) Andrew Heaney rebounds and silences the Astros…
He tossed 6.0 shutout innings, allowing 5 H and 1 BB, striking out 6, bouncing back after allowing 5 ER over 6.0 IP his last time out against the Astros.  There’s been a bit of hit or miss to Heaney this season, including allowing 4+ ER in four of his past six starts.  Overall he owns a 4.09 ERA and 1.18 WHIP over 152.0 IP, striking out nearly a batter per inning (144 K) while showing strong control (39 BB).  He doesn’t have an elite groundball rate (42.0%) and has also been hit relatively hard (39.0% Hard%), though a 67.6% strand rate already takes those numbers into account.  The Hard% has been trending in the wrong direction (45.7% in the second half entering the day) and will be something to watch down the stretch, but he’s beginning to prove that he deserves our attention.


8) Mitch Haniger continues to thrive hitting atop the Mariners order…
He went 2-5 with 1 HR, 1 RBI and 1 R yesterday, giving him an 11-game hitting streak.  Overall in August he’s gone 40-114 (.351) with 5 HR, 15 RBI and 19 R, to go along with a solid strikeout mark (24 K).  The overall underlying numbers entering the day are right on par with what he did last year, including his strikeout rate (22.7% in ’17 vs. 22.1%), HR/FB (15.8% vs. 16.7%), BABIP (.338 vs. .330) and Hard% (34.7% vs. 37.9%).  In other words, what is unbelievable with what he’s done?  Maybe he went through a bit of a rough patch, but at the end of the day he’s currently hitting .281 with 23 HR, 84 RBI, 71 R and 7 SB, entrenching himself as a good play in all formats.


9) Are things finally turning for Robbie Ray…
He outpitched Rich Hill (5.0 IP, 3 ER, 6 H, 0 BB, 7 K) and posted his second straight solid outing, as Ray earned the W allowing 1 ER on 4 H and 2 BB, striking out 9, over 5.1 IP.  Obviously one of the biggest concerns is his length, as he needed 106 pitches just to get 16 outs and has gone more than 5.1 IP just twice in 12 starts since returning from the DL.  Part of that is the strikeouts, though overall he’s also had underwhelming control and has been plagued by home runs (even yesterday he allowed 1 HR, giving him HR allowed in three straight and 16 HR over 91.0 IP overall).  You can argue that he’s better than his 4.55 ERA and 1.44 WHIP, and that’s fair, but with the already noted home run and walk issues, while also being hit hard for the second straight season (40.4% Hard% in ’17, 42.7% entering ’18), he’s getting harder and harder to trust.  There’s still potential, but there are too many questions than answers to fully trust him for 2018.


10) German Marquez has a career night on the mound…
Taking on the Padres he had to settle for a no decision, though it was of no fault of his own.  Going 8.0 innings he allowed 2 ER on 2 H and 1 BB, striking out 13 as he generated 20 swinging strikes.  It’s an attention grabbing number, especially coming off a 9 K performance against the Cardinals (he now has 8+ K in five of his past seven starts).  He entered the day with a 9.62 K/9 and 2.95 BB/9, with room for improvement in his “luck” metrics (.306 BABIP, 72.4% strand rate).  Home runs have been a bit of an issue, with a 1.20 HR/9, but it’s not a crippling mark and his 47.4% groundball rate is enough (even pitching in Coors Field).  He also hasn’t been hit particularly hard (34.5% Hard%), so it all comes together in a pretty little package.  He has been significantly better on the road (2.89 ERA entering the day) compared to at home (5.77 ERA), and that’s scary.  He deserves more attention, but at the very least he’s worth owning and using on the road with upside to figure it out at home.

Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball


  1. bbboston says:

    RP: Minor comment about yesterday. Tyler White is White hot: Has hit a HR every day, since 8/22.

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      Yep, but we’ve talked about him a lot. Gets repetitive so try to look at different players instead of the same one every day

  2. Carlito says:

    Clevinger isn’t a top 40 pitcher? Was that suppose to be top 20?

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      He is with the numbers, but I’m not sure he maintains it. Wouldn’t shock me to see him as a backend SP4

  3. John Cook says:

    ROS in a daily with OPS. Rank these please. Culberson. Marte. Pederson. Thanks

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