10 Important Stories from 09/13/18 Box Scores: Late Season Surges To Monitor (Dahl/Conforto), Ditching Struggling “Stars” & More

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

Trevor Story continued to make his case for the NL MVP, going 2-4 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 3 R.  It was a big day for Manny Machado, as he helped pace the Dodgers, going 3-4 with 1 HR, 3 RBI and 2 R, as they battle Colorado for the NL West crown.  J.D. Martinez continued to show that he was worth the investment from Boston, going 2-4 with 1 HR, 1 RBI and 1 R.  What else do we need to know about from yesterday’s action?  Let’s dive into the box scores and take a look:

 

1) Is David Dahl finally breaking out…
He was hitting stop the order yesterday, going 3-5 with 2 RBI.  That gives him a modest five-game hitting streak, going 9-20 with 1 HR, 7 RBI and 2 R (he has 3 HR and 10 RBI over his past eight games).  More importantly he has just 3 K over his current hitting streak as his approach has been the biggest question (he entered the day with a 15.1% SwStr% and 39.6% O-Swing% in the Majors in ’18).  Before we get too excited keep in mind that he had a 17.7% SwStr% in September before yesterday’s action and he had benefited from a 42.9% HR/FB and wasn’t hitting the ball particularly hard (31.6% Hard% in September, though a 37.5% mark overall).  It’s not to say that he can’t finally put things together and make a statement down the stretch, but we wouldn’t be banking on it.

 

2) Joe Ross returns with a solid start…
Making his first appearance in the Majors since July 9, 2017, Ross pitched fairly well against the Cubs as he allowed 2 ER on 4 H and 2 BB over 5.0 IP.  Before you get too excited, keep these numbers in mind:

  • Groundballs – 3 (compared to 10 fly balls)
  • Strikeouts – 0
  • Swinging Strikes – 6

So he didn’t strikeout a single batter and you could argue that he was lucky not to be burned by home runs.  That’s not a good combination, regardless of how good his control may be.  He should get better the more comfortable he gets, but that’s going to take time and there simply isn’t enough season left.  As of today don’t bother even considering him.

 

3) Michael Conforto continues to finally round into form…
After hitting a game-tying home run in the ninth inning of Game 1 of the double header, Conforto followed it up by driving in 3 in the night cap.  He finished going 3-8 with 1 HR, 4 RBI and 1 R, extending his hitting streak to six games (10-26 with 4 HR, 10 RBI and 6 R).  Overall in September he’s gone 15-52 (.288) with 6 HR, 15 RBI and 8 R, as he’s struck out just 9 times (though he has walked just once).  It obviously has been a disappointing season for Conforto, who battled a shoulder injury early in the year.  That said he’s continued to stay inside the strike zone (28.0% O-Swing%) and he entered the day with a second half Hard% of 41.7%.  He has all the makings of a prime bounce back candidate for 2019, though a really strong finish to the year will likely help to raise his draft day price.

 

4) Will Sandy Alcantara prove to be an impact starter…
The key to the Marcell Ozuna trade, Alcantara settled for a no decision after the bullpen collapsed late in Game 1 of the double header.  That said he pitched well, allowing 2 ER on 2 H and 3 BB, striking out 6, over 7.0 IP against the Mets.  He made one costly mistake, a home run to Steven Matz of all people, which is unfortunate as he was generating groundballs (9 groundballs vs. 5 fly balls) and getting enough swings and misses (14).  The hard thrower has the potential to grow in the strikeout department and he’s shown enough groundball stuff (49.4% in 19 starts at Triple-A prior to his recall).  The question is going to be if he can avoid the walks (10 BB over 19.0 IP in his three MLB starts), and while wins may be hard to come by his numbers should be strong given the stuff and home ballpark.  He’s a risky proposition to finish out ’18 but the upside is there and can’t be ignored.

 

5) A strong bounce back performance from Eduardo Rodriguez…
After getting beaten up by the Astros in his last start (5 ER over 6.1 IP) Rodriguez returned to form against the Blue Jays, allowing 1 ER on 6 H and 0 BB, striking out 7, over 6.0 IP though he had to settle for a no decision.  That’s not to say that it was a blow away performance as he wasn’t generating many groundballs (5 groundballs vs. 6 fly balls) nor was it getting many swings and misses (9).  He has shown more swing and miss stuff throughout the season (11.0% SwStr% entering the day) and his control is solid.  The risk of home runs is very much for real (39.6% groundball rate entering the day), though he also has limited the Hard% and that helps to keep that in check.  While he could have the occasional blowup, especially against home run happy offenses, but the value is continuing using him.

 

6) Dylan Bundy gets the W, but that shouldn’t change the outlook…
Sure he beat the A’s, which isn’t easy to do right now, as he allowed 2 ER on 6 H and 0 BB, striking out 8, over 6.0 IP.  Of course he allowed another home run, making it 12 straight starts with at least 1 HR allowed and 38 HR over 156.0 IP overall.  It would be easy to chalk the problem up to his home ballpark or pitching in the AL East, but that’s simply not the case (he’s allowed 18 HR on the road).  Maybe pitching in the AL East has been an issue, but who would’ve guessed that it’s been the Rays who have done the most damage, with 7 HR in 22.2 IP against him?  If he can ever figure out how to keep the ball in the ballpark the upside and value is there, but he entered the day with a career 33.6% groundball rate and 1.69 HR/9 over 431.0 IP making it impossible to think he’s finally going to put things together.  Over the remainder of the season he’s an easy pitcher to pass on.

 

7) Is there any reason to believe in Brian Dozier…
He went 0-5 yesterday and is now hitting .217 overall the season.  For a player who has notoriously been a second half producer, he simply has continued to fail to put things together in 2018.  Since his trade to LA he’s hitting .184 with just 4 HR over 125 AB.  It’s interesting because he entered the day continuing to show a strong approach, even with the Dodgers, as he’s posted a 6.9% SwStr% and 22.5% O-Swing%.  He also has been hitting the ball hard (38.5% Hard%) and isn’t swinging for the fences (39.6% fly ball rate).  There’s obvious upside in his .207 BABIP and the only real “issue” you can point towards is that he’s been far to pull happy (47.9% Pull%, 12.5% Oppo%).  That’s not enough to justify how poor these numbers have been and the potential is there for him to catch fire at any moment.  We wouldn’t bank on it at this point, but watch closely and capitalize if he shows signs.

 

8) Whit Merrifield continues his stolen base binge…
Merrifield is proving to be a real difference maker down the stretch.  After going 1-3 with 2 R and 1 SB he now has 5 SB and 6 R over his past three games.  Over his past seven games he has 1 HR, 3 RBI, 9 R and 6 SB, pushing many fantasy owners over the top in a category that’s not always easy to find.  Coming off a year where he hit 19 HR with 34 SB the big question was in his ability to hit the ball hard, but he’s rebounded in that department in a big way in ’18 (30.6% to 37.1% entering the day).  His power is down, with 12 HR on the year, but that’s not a crippling mark as he’s already surpassed his SB total from a year ago and is scoring runs in bunches.

 

9) What’s gone wrong with Dee Gordon…
He went 1-5 yesterday and is now hitting .167 with 0 SB and 0 R over 30 AB in September.  He’s certainly picked the wrong time to disappear, though he hasn’t stolen more than 6 bases in a month since April (when he had 10 SB).  He was never going to be a source of power and he’s always brought risk in his OBP, though the latter has been more disappointing than expected with a .290 mark on the year.  Walks have never been his strong suit and it’s not that he’s swinging for the fences (56.0% groundball rate entering the day), so there is hope that he can rebound at any point.  That said hitting at the bottom of the batting order he may not score many runs.  With just over two weeks left he’s worth monitoring, just in case he catches fire, but if he’s not going to steal bases he’s going to be useless.

 

10) Steven Matz pitches fairly well in a no decision…
Taking on the Marlins he allowed 3 ER on 3 H and 2 BB, striking out 4, over 6.1 IP.  With 26 K over his previous three starts we were obviously hoping for more strikeouts against the Marlins, but that is nitpicking a bit.  Over his past five starts he’s allowed 9 ER on 16 H and 7 BB, striking out 35, over 30.1 IP as he continues to try and show his upside.  He entered the day showing enough of the three skills we look for from any pitcher, with an 8.89 K/9, 3.16 BB/9 and 48.9% groundball rate.  Of course his 8.9% SwStr% and 22.7% O-Swing% doesn’t give much hope in the strikeout department, despite what he’s shown thus far, and it’s something to keep in mind moving forward.  It doesn’t mean that he can’t excel, but the other skills aren’t strong enough that he can maintain them with significantly fewer strikeouts.

Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs

5 comments

  1. Chris says:

    Tough decisions: (Start/Sit)
    Cats: QS, L, ERA, WHIP, Ks
    I’m down 3Ls to 2

    Archer (@Mil)

    Berrios (@KC)

    Rank Streamers:
    Porcello (NYM)

    Minor (@SD)

    Bieber (Det)

    Eflin (Mia)

    Thanks Prof!!

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