10 Important Stories from 09/20/18 Box Scores: Buying Surging Bats (Piscotty/Pham/Stewart), Should We Trust E. Rodriguez & More

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

Mookie Betts helped to carry Boston to a come from behind victory against the Yankees, going 4-5 with 1 HR, 5 RBI and 3 R.  Max Scherzer tried to make a Cy Young statement, taking a no decision against the Mets as he allowed 3 ER on 5 H and 2 BB, striking out 13, over 7.0 IP.  Masahiro Tanaka continued to show far too much Jekyll & Hyde, slowing 5 ER on 8 H and 0 BB, striking out 3, over 4.0 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) Stephen Piscotty continues his hot finish to the season…
Oakland racked up 21 R and 22 H against the Angels, so there were obviously a lot of players who had strong games (like Marcus Semien, who went 3-5 with 5 RBI and 1 R).  It’s Piscotty who arguably had the biggest day, going 2-3 with 1 HR, 4 RBI and 2 R.  He’s now homered in back-to-back games (2 HR and 9 RBI) and has 2 R scored in three straight games (he’s gone 5-9 with 2 HR, 9 RBI and 6 R over this modest stretch).  Overall he’s hitting .270 with 26 HR and 85 RBI, as he’s dropped his strikeout rate (18.7% entering the day) and is hitting the ball extremely hard (41.5% Hard%, meaning his .291 BABIP should improve).  His approach overall does bring questions (12.7% SwStr%, 38.2% O-Swing%), especially since it’s been even worse in the second half (13.2% SwStr%, 43.0% O-Swing%).  While we’d eventually expect a regression, it’s impossible not to ride the hot streak for as long as it goes.


2) What happened to Eduardo Rodriguez…
It was simply an awful performance, allowing 5 ER over 3.2 IP.  He allowed “just” 4 H and struck out 4, but he simply couldn’t find the strike zone as he walked 7 batters and needed 100 pitches.  Throw in a lack of groundballs (0 groundballs vs. 6 fly balls) and it was a disastrous outing for the second time in his past three starts.  There have always been home run concerns (37.6% groundball rate entering the day) and there was always the risk that his control regressed (3.02 BB/9 for his career entering the day, 2.71 in ’18).  That’s always a dangerous combination, especially when it’s mixed with a strikeout rate that could regress slightly (10.00 K/9, though an 11.1% SwStr% may not support quite that high of a mark).  We’d expect things to get better as the control isn’t quite this bad, but he’s simply not an ace.


3) Victor Robles struggles with strikeouts…
He was hitting atop the order last night, going 1-6 with 1 R as he dropped to .200 with 1 HR and 1 SB over 30 AB in the Majors.  Last night he really struggled with strikeouts, whiffing 4 times.  That hadn’t been a problem in his small sample entering the day (5.3% SwStr%), nor was it an issue in the minor leagues (6.8% SwStr% over 226 PA).  In other words last night’s poor showing shouldn’t deter you from potentially using him, assuming the AB are there over the final few days of the season.  He needs to cut down on the fly balls (61.9%) and specifically the popups (15.4% IFFB) instead focusing on line drives and groundballs, allowing him to utilize his speed.  Injuries have helped cause this to be a lost season for Robles, but he has the chance to play a big role in ’19 and the Nationals should try to get him AB down the stretch.


4) The resurgence of Tommy Pham continues…
He went 3-5 with 2 RBI and 2 R yesterday, coming a day after hitting 2 HR.  He now has three straight three-hit days (8-14, 2 HR, 4 RBI and 4 R) and he’s hitting .339 with 5 HR, 16 RBI and 23 R over 112 AB since the trade to Tampa Bay.  Was this all about a change of scenery?  Maybe, but let’s not overlook that he entered the day with a .435 BABIP while in Tampa Bay meaning the average is going to regress significantly if there was enough time left in the season.  At the same time he’s shown a strong approach (9.2% SwStr%, 23.1% O-Swing%) and has hit the ball exceptionally hard (49.2% Hard%) all season long.  It’s not a surprise that his average has jumped (.248 prior to the trade) and the power has been consistent.  While he’s not this good, he also isn’t as bad as he was with the truth likely falling somewhere in the middle.  As long as you value him along the lines of .285-.290 hitter with 20/20 upside, you shouldn’t be disappointed.


5) Can Yoan Moncada make an impact…
It’s only a few days so anything is possible, but Moncada got the final stretch started strong by going 3-5 with 2 RBI and 1 R.  It was a nice day, but what exactly has Moncada been contributing of late.  Just keep these dates in mind:

  • Last Home Run – August 31
  • Last Stolen Base – July 28

So he’s not hitting home runs and he’s not stealing bases…  What he is doing is continuing to strikeout, a lot, with 20 K over 64 September AB (206 K over 549 AB overall).  That’s always going to handcuff is value and maybe he gets hot down the stretch, but it’s a tough sell.


6) Christin Stewart shows off his power…
Fantasy owners have been waiting for his arrival seemingly all season and he showed us why yesterday, going 2-4 with 2 HR, 6 RBI and 2 R against the Royals.  He hasn’t been overly impressive since arriving (.256 and he had 0 HR and 1 RBI over his first 10 games in the Majors).  There’s no questioning his power and his ability to draw a walk, so as long as he can keep the strikeout rate in check (20.7% at Triple-A this season) he is going to have the potential to make an impact.  Obviously we don’t have enough of a sample in the Majors to draw any conclusions, but he’s the type of young hitter who is going to get AB and could make an impact over the final week.


7) Cody Reed pitches well en route to victory…
Taking on the Marlins he tossed 6.0 shutout innings allowing 5 H and 0 BB, striking out 6.  He was doing a good job of generating swings and misses (13) and inducing groundballs (9 groundballs vs. 3 fly balls).  He’s now tossed 11.0 consecutive shutout innings (16 K vs. 2 BB), both coming on the road.  The big question is going to be if he can maintain this type of elevated groundball rate (59.2% prior to yesterday), considering he was at 44.8% at Triple-A this season.  He brings the ability for around a strikeout per inning to go along with solid control (8.94 K/9, 2.64 BB/9 at Triple-A), so if the groundballs are there the results should follow.  He’s hardly a given, but could be worth streaming depending on the matchup.


8) The Phillies give Vince Velasquez a quick hook…
We should say it was a quick hit yet again, as he’s gone 4.0 IP or fewer in three straight starts and hasn’t gone more than 5.0 innings since August 3.  Yesterday he was pulled after 3.0 innings allowing 3 ER on 5 H and 1 BB, striking out 3, though he escaped with a no decision.  The length of his outings is all we really need to know, regardless of any strikeout potential, as there is going to be little potential for a victory.  Regardless of the other skills, he’s not a pitcher that’s worth the investment for the rest of the season.


9) Kevin Gausman brings the strikeout stuff…
Taking on the Phillies he pitched fairly well, despite taking a no decision, as he allowed 3 ER on 5 H and 2 BB, striking out 7, over 6.0 IP.  He was showing ample swings and misses (16), though he wasn’t getting many groundballs (3 groundballs vs. 9 fly balls).  He’s been better in terms of the latter all season long (47.5% fly ball rate), and he’s made big strides since the trade to Atlanta in terms of home runs allowed (0.74 HR/9 entering the day).  That’s the key, especially since he should see an improvement in his strikeout rate (7.05 K/9 overall, 5.77 since moving to the NL East despite a 10.4% SwStr% and 34.6% O-Swing%).  As long as he’s continuing to keep the ball in the ballpark he’s going to succeed, and while there is risk involved there is more than enough potential reward.


10) It’s impossible to trust Matt Shoemaker…
Obviously it was a disastrous outing for Shoemaker, who allowed 5 ER on 5 H and 2 BB, striking out 4, over 2.2 IP against the A’s.  Over his past three starts he’s now gone 12.1 IP and allowed 11 ER on 17 H and 3 BB, striking out 16.  Obviously it’s the hits that are the big concern, though he also has yet to throw more than 77 pitches as Los Angeles handles him with extreme care.  That limits his value, and with so little time left in the season does anyone expect him to be allowed to go without limitation?  Maybe he turns in a great outing the next time out, but the risk far outweighs the potential reward at this point.

Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs


  1. NK says:

    What do you think of Liriano vs KC today? Desperation mode, hunting for a W h2h playoffs.

  2. Jay says:

    Do expect Holt to play a lot the last week as Boston rotates starters for rest? Thinking he could be a good pick up with lots of players not playing everyday. Thoughts.

  3. Jay says:

    H2H Points. Need One SP for me and One to keep away from the other team. Trevor Williams, Lance Lynn, Urena, Glasnow & Minor. Thanks

  4. A says:

    Do you think piscotty is valuable in dynasty? (made a lot of gains this year, just needs to work on plate discipline)

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