10 Important Stories from 09/17/18 Box Scores: Should We Trust Impressive Youngsters (Valdez, Glasnow), Gray’s Struggles Continue & More

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

Christian Yelich was the star of the day, going 4-4 with 1 HR, 4 RBI and 1 R as he hit for the cycle (his second cycle against Cincinnati this season).  Anthony Rendon enjoyed a big day at the dish, going 3-4 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 2 R.  Miles Mikolas continued his strong 2018 campaign, defeating the Braves as he allowed 2 ER on 4 H and 1 BB, striking out 6, over 5.0 IP to improve to 16-4 with a 3.01 ERA.  What else happened on the field that we need to know about?  Let’s dive into the box scores and take a look:

 

1) Ryan Borucki is the latest pitcher to take advantage of the Orioles…
He tossed 8.0 shutout innings allowing 3 H and 1 BB, striking out 7.  The Orioles look completely inept of late, with the third worst team SLG in September (.277), so was this a case of Borucki pitching well or just a miserable offense?  The best asset he showed was generating groundballs, with 12 groundballs vs. 5 fly balls, and he’s now allowed 2 ER or less in three straight starts (4 ER on 9 H and 5 BB over 20.1 IP).  It’s been a strong run, but he entered the day with a 7.4% SwStr% (leading to a poor 5.92 K/9).  Considering his 6.78 K/9 at Triple-A prior to his recall it’s hard to get excited about the strikeout potential.  While he should generate enough groundballs and shows solid control, it keeps him more as a streaming option than anything (especially pitching in the AL East).  If he can figure out how to get more strikeouts there’s upside, but for now he’s hard to trust despite the strong finish.

 

2) The resurgence of Michael Conforto continues…
Clearly the shoulder injury was still an issue early in the season, and maybe he tried to return too quickly, but Conforto’s late season surge gives hope for him for 2019 and beyond.  He went 3-5 with 1 HR, 6 RBI and 1 R yesterday, putting hm at .309 (21-68) with 7 HR and 22 RBI in September as he continues to make regular contact (12 K).  In 212 AB since the All-Star Break he’s hit 15 HR with 45 RBI, showing that the talent that made him a breakout start a year ago is still there as he’s been hitting the ball hard (39.9% Hard% entering the day) and obviously showing plenty of power (29.2% HR/FB).  Entering the day he had a 10.5% SwStr% in September, and if he can maintain that the value just rises further.  While it’s been a rocky road, he’s returned to being among the better outfielders in the league and the opportunity to buy low heading into 2019 has likely disappeared.

 

3) Should we be buying into Ryan O’Hearn…
He had another big day yesterday, going 2-4 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 1 R, putting him at .277 with 11 HR and 27 RBI over 119 AB in the Majors.  Obviously with less than two weeks left we have to be willing to ride any hot streak out, because anything can happen.  While there is plenty of swing and miss to his game, thus far O’Hearn has shown an ability to stay inside the strike zone (22.4% O-Swing% entering the day), draw plenty of walks (14.1%) and hit the ball extremely hard (48.7% Hard%).  Those numbers would show more upside in his BABIP (.309) and while he may not be able to maintain a 31.3% HR/FB (which likely increased after yesterday’s home run), no one is going to doubt his power.  There’s risk of him falling off a cliff, but for two weeks we’d be ready to roll with him as the underlying metrics are impressive and support the strong stretch.

 

4) Erik Fedde shows a little bit of upside…
Obviously we are going to be disappointed that he failed to go deep into the game (4.1 IP) and allowed 4 ER, but he allowed just 2 H with 6 K against the Marlins.  The problem was in his control, walking 4 batters, as he showed swing and miss (13 swinging strikes) and was generating groundballs (6 groundballs vs. 1 fly ball).  Control hasn’t been an issue this season in general, entering the day with a 3.03 BB/9 over 38.2 IP in the Majors and a 2.41 over 67.1 IP at Triple-A.  He’s also proven capable of generating more than enough groundballs (51.3% at Triple-A).  While we’d like to see more swings and misses (8.7% SwStr%), the problem is more luck based entering the day with a .343 BABIP (courtesy of a 35.1% Hard%).  There’s more than enough to have optimism moving forward with the potential for him to develop into a viable option, though he’s going to be tough to trust over the remainder of ’18.

 

5) Mike Foltynewicz picked the wrong time to implode…
He allowed two of the four home runs the Cardinals hit, allowing 6 ER on 5 H and 4 BB, striking out 2, over 4.2 IP.  Obviously with a 2.90 ERA and 1.13 WHIP this would appear to be just a blip on the radar, though is it a surprise that the long ball bit him?  He entered the day with a 43.6% fly ball rate, but just a 0.81 HR/9 (compared to a 1.20 career mark).  He also had benefited from a .260 BABIP despite a 35.3% Hard%, showing that there’s room for regression, and it’s not like he’s been a swing and miss machine (10.0% SwStr% and 26.5% O-Swing% don’t support the jump in strikeouts, entering the day with a 10.08 K/9).  Throw in pedestrian control (3.31 BB/9) and it comes together to create a pitcher who will likely be overvalued heading into 2019.

 

6) A dominant showing from Tyler Glasnow…
Taking on the Rangers he tossed 6.0 shutout innings allowing just 2 H and 2 BB while striking out 6.  It’s easy to get excited, and he’s generally pitched well since the trade to Tampa Bay.  Of course in yesterday’s outing he didn’t show significant swing and miss stuff (11 swinging strikes), nor was he a groundball machine (5 groundballs vs. 7 fly balls).  He entered the day with a 40.6% groundball rate over 38.1 IP with the Rays, and he also hasn’t shown an elite SwStr% (10.7%).  He’s been hit exceptionally hard (41.7% Hard%) while he’s leaned on his fastball much like he did while working out of the bullpen (70.8%).  Does anything about that sound promising?  Pitching in the AL East just further diminishes his stock.  There’s upside and he could be a viable starter, but he’s tough to trust down the stretch.

 

7) Another strong start for Framber Valdez, kind of…
He tossed 5.0 shutout innings against the Mariners, allowing 2 H while striking out 6 as he was generating a lot of groundballs (8 groundballs vs. 1 fly ball).  His problem was his control, as he walked 5, and that’s been the problem since making his MLB debut (he’s walked 3+ batters in five straight starts, never going more than 5.1 innings in any of them).  Couple that with a lack of swings and misses in the Majors (6.5% SwStr%), benefiting from significant luck (.222 BABIP, 82.8% strand rate entering the day) and a Hard% that will regress (16.9%) and the risks likely far outweigh the rewards.  If the matchup justifies it he’s streamable while he’s pitching well, but he feels like a disaster in waiting.

 

8) Kyle Hendricks falls one out shy of a complete game…
He outpitched Patrick Corbin (6.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 H, 1 BB, 7 K), allowing 1 ER on 3 H and 1 BB, striking out 8, over 8.2 IP.  He generated 18 swinging strikes as he posted his sixth straight start allowing 2 ER or fewer, reducing his ERA to a solid 3.58 to go along with a 1.17 WHIP.  Hendricks’ swinging strike total is somewhat surprising, entering the day with a 9.0% SwStr%, though entering the day with a continued strong control (2.11 BB/9) and believable luck (.295 BABIP, 74.4% strand rate) these numbers appear to be reasonable.  It was always hard to expect him to replicate his 2.13 and 3.03 ERA over the previous two seasons, and this seems to be the “real” Kyle Hendricks.  As long as you value him appropriately you shouldn’t be disappointed.

 

9) The struggles of Jon Gray continue…
He has shown some hope, and despite pitching on the road this one was a disaster from the start.  Taking on the Dodgers he allowed 6 ER on 7 H and 2 BB, striking out 1, over 2.0 IP as he allowed two home runs (including one from Joc Pederson, who finished going 3-4 with 2 HR, 3 RBI and 3 R).  Home runs have continued to plague him, regardless of where he’s pitching, as he’s allowed at least 1 HR in ten straight starts (and 2 HR in four of his past five).  Pitching in Coors Field it’s not a surprise, but entering the day with a 47.6% groundball rate it’s a little bit of a surprise that he’s had the same issues on the road.  Considering he’s shown strikeouts (9.71 K/9) and control (2.62 BB/9), as well as a 68.4% strand rate, and there’s reason to believe a rebound is coming in 2019.  However, in terms of 2018 he’s impossible to trust with your season hanging in the balance.

 

10) Andrew Suarez delivers against San Diego…
He went 7.2 innings allowing 2 ER on 4 H and 3 BB, striking out 4, to improve to 7-11 with a 4.24 ERA.  Obviously those are uninspiring numbers, and with a 7.49 K/9 entering the day (courtesy of a 7.2% SwStr%) it’s hard to get excited regardless of any control or groundball potential he may show.  It gets even harder when you mix in a 39.4% Hard%, as opposing offenses have been able to routinely hit him hard.  He has streaming potential, when the matchup calls for it, but it’s impossible to trust him in most cases moving forward.

Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs, MLB.com

2 comments

  1. Jon says:

    Brandon Nimmo or Michael Conforto in a dynasty league?

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