10 Important Stories from 09/05/18 Box Scores: Young Hitters Make Statements, Pitchers To Be Skeptical About (Greinke) & More

by Eric Stashin aka The Rotoprofessor)

It was as small of a schedule as you are going to get, with just four games last night.  That doesn’t mean that we lacked notable performances though.  Let’s take a look at the biggest stories coming out of last night’s abridged schedule:

 

1) Francisco Mejia makes a statement in his first start as a Padre…
He finished off going 2-4 with 2 HR, 4 RBI and 2 R, carrying San Diego to a victory.  Splitting time between two Triple-A teams he was hitting .293 with 14 HR and 68 RBI over 468 PA, though when you look at his splits before and after the trade it’s clear that he had figured something out:

  • Pre-Trade (336 PA) – .279 with 7 HR and 45 RBI
  • Post-Trade (132 PA) – .328 with 7 HR and 23 RBI

Always known for his bat, while the post-trade power may be boosted by playing in the Pacific Coast League the average is closer to what we’ve come to expect as he was hitting the ball hard (24.2% line drive rate) and continuing to make contact (18.9% strikeout rate).  There is some power, as he’s added 30 doubles and 2 triples, and should quickly push Austin Hedges for playing time.  It will be interesting to see how things are split, but consider him well worth owning as he’s clearly scorching hot right now.

 

2) It’s a lost year for Luis Castillo…
He allowed both home runs to Mejia, as well as a bomb to Hunter Renfroe (1-4, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R) to finish the day allowing 5 R on 5 H and 0 BB, striking out 7, over 5.0 IP.  Only two of the runs were earned, so at the end of the day his line wasn’t as bad as you’d think and he now has 18 K over his past 11.2 IP.  Of course he continues to be inconsistent, at best, and owns a 4.79 ERA and 1.27 WHIP over 148.1 IP on the season.  Entering the day he had an 8.92 K/9 and 2.70 BB/9, as well as a respectable (but unspectacular) 44.5% groundball rate.  Home runs (1.51 HR/9 entering the day) and an elevated Hard% (38.6%) are significant issues and there’s the risk of his BABIP turning further (.295 BABIP).  He can easily fix things for 2019, but making the decision to trust him this year is nearly impossible.

 

3) A bit of a mixed bag for Stephen Strasburg…
Taking on the Cubs Strasburg went 5.2 innings allowing 3 R (2 earned) on 6 H and 3 BB, striking out 6, in what ultimately was a no decision.  In four starts since returning from the DL he’s now allowed 11 ER on 23 H and 9 BB over 21.2 IP, so he clearly has been allowing far too many baserunners.  He has been striking out over a batter per inning (23 K), which obviously helps, and entering with an overall .313 BABIP and 71.2% strand rate we’d expect an improvement going forward.  Of course he’s also given up home runs at a career worst rate (1.24 HR/9, and while he didn’t allow one yesterday he generated just 4 groundballs vs. 7 fly balls).  He also has been hit harder than ever before (33.3% Hard%, compared to a 28.7% career mark), and while the number is reasonable it can’t be ignored.  It’s not to say that he can’t be used, but it’ll likely continue to be mixed results moving forward.

 

4) Bad defense hurts Kyle Hendricks…
He allowed 4 R, but only 1 ER, as he allowed 6 H and 0 BB, striking out 6.  He’s now allowed 2 ER or fewer in four straight starts, allowing 4 ER over his past 25.0 IP.  While some are going to point towards 3.03 ERA last season (and 2.13 in 2016) as reason for further optimism, his current 3.71 over 169.2 IP appears to be a far more reasonable mark.  He entered the day with realistic “luck” metrics (.291 BABIP, 75.3% strand rate) and he continues to be a pedestrian strikeout (7.38 K/9) and groundball (46.9%) pitcher.  As long as you are valuing him more as a SP3/SP4 type, as opposed to a Top 25 starter, you should get proper value back.

 

5) Rowdy Tellez, the doubles machine…
Tellez made his debut on Wednesday, doubling in his lone AB.  He followed that up going 3-4 with 1 RBI and 1 R double, with all three hits being doubles…  That’s right, over his first 5 AB in the Majors he’s put up 4 hits and they have all been doubles.  Of course the left-handed hitter had just 22 doubles and 13 HR over 444 PA at Triple-A this year and over the past two years (945 PA) he’s hit just 19 HR at the level.  Maybe he grows into some power, but that’s not going to get it done for a first baseman.  He does make consistent contact (9.2% SwStr% at Triple-A in ’18) and could produce some value, though he also could be nothing more than a platoon player (0 HR in 101 AB against LHP in ’18) without extreme power.  We’ll see if he matures, but for ’18 he can easily be ignored.

 

6) Has Shane Bieber emerged as a must start pitcher…
It was a solid start against the Blue Jays, allowing 4 R (3 earned) on 7 H and 1 BB, striking out 6, over 6.1 IP to improve to 9-3.  Of course a 4.63 ERA isn’t going to catch your attention, though he entered the day with a 9.21 K/9 and 1.59 BB/9.  An 11.3% SwStr% (he had 14 swinging strikes yesterday) indicates that he could see a small regression in his strikeout rate but should be able to maintain an 8+ K/9, and he’s always shown elite control.  His groundball rate is unspectacular, but solid, at 43.4% but the biggest issue has been a 45.1% Hard% leading to a .368 BABIP and 70.2% strand rate.  He needs to get that number down if he wants to have success, and there’s hope that he can get there.  Don’t consider him a must start, but there’s usability and he could fully break out in 2019.

 

7) Francisco Lindor, AL MVP?!…
What is there to say about Lindor?  He went 4-5 with 2 HR, 4 RBI and 3 R, giving him an impressive .288 with 33 HR, 84 RBI, 117 R and 22 SB.  Of course he’s going to have to compete with teammate Jose Ramirez (.286, 37 HR, 96 RBI, 95 R, 29 SB), who has quietly been slumping of late (he hasn’t hit a home run since August 17 and hit .245 in August before starting September at 4-17). but consider Lindor a viable candidate to take home the award when all is said and done.

 

8) Johan Camargo quietly producing usable numbers…
He went 1-4 with 1 HR, 1 RBI and 2 R yesterday, putting him at .276 with 16 HR over 399 AB on the season.  Coming off a month where he hit .327 over 110 AB, Camargo has been a solid third baseman all year long and has allowed the team to give Austin Riley far more time in the minors than many expected.  Of course he’s not an extreme power hitter and entering the day with an 11.9% SwStr% and 34.8% O-Swing%, there’s risk that he takes a step back in his 19.9% strikeout rate (21.4% in the second half, as well as a 6.6% walk rate).  Throw in a .380 BABIP in the second half and there’s ample reason for pessimism.  He’s worth using while he’s hitting, but things could go south in a hurry.

 

9) Zack Greinke continues his relatively poor stretch…
Taking on the Braves he allowed 5 R (4 earned) on 6 H and 2 BB, striking out 4, over 5.1 IP.  He’s now allowed 3+ ER in four of his past five starts, allowing 14 ER over 31.2 IP.  The biggest concern has been his propensity to allow HR, with 2 HR in three of this starts (and 7 total HR over the five start stretch).  He entered the day with a 1.28 HR/9, and the even bigger concern is that his Hard% has been trending in the wrong direction each year as a member of the Diamondbacks:

  • 2016 – 30.7%
  • 2017 – 35.1%
  • 2018 – 40.6%

Couple that with the home runs and a potential luck regression (.267 BABIP, 83.8% strand rate) and things could continue to be mediocre at the wrong time for fantasy owners.

 

10) Nick Markakis keeps on hitting…
He went 4-5 with 2 RBI yesterday, putting him at .309 with 14 HR and 87 RBI on the season.  We keep waiting for things to turn the other direction, but the veteran just keeps pounding the baseball (41.1% Hard%) and make consistent contact (11.1% strikeout rate).  At this point, why should we expect anything to change over the final three weeks?

Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs, MILB.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *