10 Important Stories From 09/03/18 Box Scores: Are We Buying These Emerging Sluggers (Reyes), Intriguing DL Returns (Shoemaker) & More

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

Cole Hamels continued to roll with the Cubs, though he had to settle for a no decision, allowing 2 ER on 5 H and 1 BB, striking out 5, over 6.0 IP against the Brewers.  Jakob Junis followed up his complete gem with arguably an even more impressive outing, with 7.0 shutout innings allowing 2 H and 0 BB, striking out 6 against the Indians.  Jacob deGrom did it again, allowing 1 ER on 2 H and 1 BB, striking out 6, over 6.0 IP against the Dodgers but again had to settle for a no decision.  What else happened on the field that we need to know about?  Let’s dive into the box scores and take a look:

 

1) Jack Flaherty pitches well, sort of…
Taking on the Nationals he allowed 1 ER on 3 H with 5 K over 5.0 IP.  Everything about that seems decent, though he also walked 5 batters and allowed a home run.  Neither of those have been significant issues this season, entering the day with a 3.02 BB/9 and 1.18 HR/9, and he’s now strung together six straight starts allowing 2 ER or fewer.  Of course he entered with a .211 BABIP and 90.2% strand rate in the second half, neither of which are believable (especially with a 38.5% Hard%).  Overall he entered with a .250 BABIP and 82.4% strand rate, and when you add in the risk of home runs (42.6% groundball rate) and things could go south quickly.  The strikeouts are nice and it’s nearly impossible to bench him, but don’t ignore the risk before blindly starting him each and every start.

 

2) Can Gregory Polanco salvage his season…
He went 2-4 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 1 R yesterday, giving him a modest yet productive four-game hitting streak (5-15, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 3 R and 2 SB).  Obviously his .249 average is still rather disappointing, though he’s backed it up with 23 HR, 78 RBI, 74 R and 11 SB.  He’s actually shown a solid approach (9.8% SwStr%, 28.5% O-Swing%) and he’s also hit the ball relatively hard (34.7% Hard%), but there are two obvious issues hanging over him:

  1. 7% fly ball rate
  2. 7% Pull%

With that type of pull rate he’ll be prone to the shift and with his fly ball rate he’s not going to be able to maintain an elevated BABIP (.279 entering the day).  You combine them together and the average is unfortunately realistic.  At this point what you see is what you get and maybe he can adjust his approach in 2019 and beyond, but for this season it’s going to be a lackluster number.

 

3) Should we trust Michael Fulmer down the stretch…
He only gave up 1 ER on 1 H over 5.2 IP against the White Sox, but he also walked 4 batters and needed 96 pitches (despite only racking up 5 K).  That’s a bit of a concern, despite it being a step in the right direction from his last disaster (7 ER over 3.2 IP against the Royals).  He entered the day with a 39.4% Hard% (leading to a .300 BABIP), pedestrian 7.48 K/9 and 43.9% groundball rate (helping lead to a 1.20 HR/9) over 120.1 IP.  He has show a bit more strikeout potential (10.5% SwStr%, prior to 16 swinging strikes yesterday) and he also generated 8 groundballs vs. 4 fly balls yesterday.  Are we willing to buy him off that one outing against an offense that generally isn’t going to scare you, though?  There’s enough downside that he’s much better suited as a streaming option (or plug and play from your bench) down the stretch.

 

4) Don’t give up on Kyle Gibson quite yet…
Taking on the Astros he allowed 4 R (2 earned) on 4 H and 1 BB, striking out 5, over 7.0 IP.  It’s his third straight start allowing at least 4 R, though in this case he actually lowered his ERA.  He was burned by home runs yesterday (2 HR allowed), which has become a surprising problem from time-to-time.  “Surprising”, because he actually induced 12 groundballs vs. 4 fly balls yesterday and entered the day with a 48.8% groundball rate.  Couple that with a career best 11.6% SwStr% and reasonable control (3.73 BB/9 entering the day) and he should continue to at least be a productive option moving forward.  He’s not a can’t miss by any stretch, but there’s enough here to warrant owning him.

 

5) Trevor Story continues to emerge…
Taking on Madison Bumgarner (5.0 IP, 7 R, 8 H, 1 BB, 6 K) story finished going 2-4 with 2 HR, 5 RB0, 2 R and 1 SB with both home runs coming off of Bumgarner (who allowed 3 HR total).  Story is now hitting .295 with 28 HR, 92 RBI, 74 R and 23 SB.  The speed isn’t something that he had shown before in the Majors, though he had stolen at least 20 bases each year from 2013-2015 in the minors.  He also has consistently shown power (he entered with a 16.1% HR/FB) and an ability to hit the ball hard (44.9% in ’18, 43.4% for his career), but the big development has been the drop in his strikeout rate down to 25.7%.  Obviously an 11.3% SwStr% isn’t going to blow you away, but it’s an improvement from his 12.7% career mark.  If he can maintain that type of mark he’ll remain among the elite players of the game.

 

6) Trevor Cahill gets the W, but is he a viable option…
Taking on the Yankees he allowed 3 R (2 earned) on 4 H and 1 BB, striking out 3, over 5.0 IP.  It’s that strikeout number that’s going to grab your attention, because it’s the fourth time in his past five starts where he’s managed 3 K or fewer.  He does a good job of generating groundballs (54.4% entering the day) and his control has been solid all season long (he entered with a 3.13 BB/9), but it’s nearly impossible to be a viable fantasy option with that type of strikeout rate.  He’s simply stopped generating swinging strikes (5 swinging strikes or less in each of his past three starts), and that has helped lead to this recent downturn (10 ER over his past 13.1 IP).  Unless something changes he’s going to be impossible to trust down the stretch.

 

7) Did Adam Plutko just put his name on the map…
While he did allow 4 ER over 6.0 IP against the Royals, he got touched up for 7 H and 0 BB, striking out 8.  Of course the damage was done by 3 HR, and that issue is going to continue to loom large as he entered the day with a 27.0% groundball rate (after a 27.8% mark over 14 starts at Triple-A).  It doesn’t matter what the rest of the numbers are, with that type of risk he’s generally going to be hard to trust.  When you throw in a pedestrian 7.7% SwStr% (though he did generate 16 swinging strikes yesterday and had an 11.0% SwStr% at Triple-A), the outlook gets that much worse.   Unless he can get that number up, and maybe yesterday was a step in the right direction, he’s going to be unusable.  He’s worth monitoring, but consider it 50/50 that he steps up and emerges.

 

8) Marcus Stroman struggles in his return from the DL…
Taking on the Rays he lasted just 1.2 innings (49 pitches) allowing 4 R on 6 H and 0 BB, striking out 1.  It’s always tough to trust a pitcher in his first start off the DL, though this is just a continuation of what has been a miserable season as he now owns a 5.54 ERA and 1.48 WHIP over 102.1 IP.  He continues to generate groundballs (62.4% entering the day), though he struggles to generate many swings and misses (6.79 K/9, 9.2% SwStr%) and his control has regressed (3.22 BB/9).  That said a 33.4% Hard% doesn’t support his .318 BABIP and 61.5% strand rate, telling us that there should be better days ahead.  Does he have enough time to get there in ’18 though?  It’s tough to trust him, though everything is shaping up as an ideal post-hype sleeper heading into 2019.

 

9) Can Matt Shoemaker makes a September impact…
Making his first start since March 31, marking his second start of the season, Shoemaker tossed 5.0 shutout innings allowing 2 H and 1 BB, striking out 3, but had to settle for a no decision.  Of course before we get too excited the underlying metrics were less than impressive as he managed just 4 swinging strikes and generated 3 groundballs vs. 9 fly balls.  Groundballs have never been his specialty (39.9% for his career) and that should lead to some home run issues regardless of his health.  If he’s showing control and getting swings and misses that won’t necessarily sink him, but that remains to be seen.  For now he’s more of a pitcher to stash and see what he’s able to do, but it’s impossible to trust him over his next start or two.

 

10) Franmil Reyes muscles up to ruin Zach Godley’s day…
Godley allowed 4 ER on 2 H and 2 BB, striking out 7, over 5.0 IP and his day would’ve been solid had it not been for Reyes.  The Padres’ slugger took him deep twice, representing both hits allowed, as he finished going 2-3 with 2 HR, 4 RBI and 2 R.  He’s now hitting .261 with 15 HR and 23 RBI over 180 AB in the Majors, including 6 HR over his past 9 games.  There are two things we need to watch, though.  While there’s no questioning his power it seems impossible to see him maintain this type of pace in the Majors as he’s added just 6 doubles and benefited from a 31.7% HR/FB entering the day.  Then you have the strikeouts, as he entered with a 31.9% strikeout rate courtesy of a 13.6% SwStr%.  He does have just 5 K over his past 21 AB, though a 12.4% SwStr% at Triple-A tells us it’s going to continue to be a problem.  He’s worth owning, especially for the short-term while he’s white hot, but don’t make the mistake of thinking he’s a can’t miss option.

 

Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs

2 comments

  1. foolintherain says:

    RP: it’s obviously crunch time for the baseball season and as per usual, I really appreciate all of your help. Three questions: do you think Tyler O’Neill is now basically done with Ozuna back? Is it a timeshare with Jose Martinez, or is Martinez probably getting the bulk of the playing time? And finally, do you have any thoughts on Ryan O’Hearn? Thank you, as always.

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      re: O’Neill – I don’t want to say that he’s “done”, but I wouldn’t trust him and depending on your format he’s droppable

      re: O’Hearn – There’s power, but the AVG is going to be poor. Unless you are looking for a HR flier he’s not going to be worth the risk

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