10 Important Stories from 09/29/18 Box Scores: Which “Breakouts” Are Due To Regress, Identifying Post-Hype Sleepers For 2019 & More

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

David Wright made his final appearance for the Mets, as the one time great will officially retire and end his playing career.  While he was obviously a non-factor over the past few years, thanks to injury, he was once one of the greats and a surefire first round pick.  What else happened on the field, on a day dominated by pitching stories?  Let’s take a look at the next to last day of the 2018 season:

 

1) Miles Mikolas finishes his breakout season in style…
It was the cherry on top on what was a great season from start to finish, allowing 1 R (0 earned) on 5 H and 0 BB, striking out 6, over 8.0 IP to defeat the Cubs.  Mikolas finishes the year with a 2.83 ERA, 1.07 WHIP and 146 K over 200.2 IP.  While we’d all like to see a few more strikeouts, something that could come down the line, his combination of elite control (1.35 BB/9 entering the day) and groundball ability (50.3%) translated extremely well.  Couple those numbers with nothing unrealistic in his luck metrics (.281 BABIP, 76.1% strand rate) and what’s not to like?  If he had a strikeout rate more in the 7.5ish range he’d be considered a borderline elite, and those who drafted him in the late rounds have reaped the benefits.

 

2) A strong finish for Jameson Taillon…
He was saddled with a loss to the Reds, but Taillon looked pretty good allowing 3 ER on 7 H and 0 BB, striking out 7, over 6.0 IP.  He finishes the year with a 3.20 ERA and 1.18 WHIP, last allowing more than 3 ER back on May 22 (22 straight starts).  While you can question whether or not he can maintain the 29.6% Hard% or his 80.0% strand rate that he entered the day with, his 8.37 K/9 (courtesy of a 10.5% SwStr%), 2.24 BB/9 and 46.8% groundball rate speak to an above average starting pitcher.  Maybe he’s closer to a 3.60-3.75ish pitcher moving forward, but even at that mark would anyone complain?  We’ll need to take a more in-depth look in the offseason, especially considering a drop in strikeouts in the second half (7.86 K/9 entering the day) and his extreme luck (88.8% strand rate), but at the end of the day he should be a solid option moving forward.

 

3) Dereck Rodriguez implodes in his final start of season…
Taking on the Dodgers he allowed 5 ER on 6 H and 3 BB, striking out 1, over 3.0 IP.  He managed just 4 swinging strikes, something that’s been a concern since his MLB debut (8.7% SwStr% entering the day).  Couple that with an inflated Hard% (38.9%) and pedestrian groundball rate (39.8%) and it was always a bit of a mystery as to how he was having so much success (he finished with a 2.81 ERA and 1.13 WHIP).  There was a lot of luck involved, entering with a .254 BABIP and 5.8% HR/FB, and while he does call a favorable ballpark home that’s not enough of an explanation.  Over his final two starts he allowed 9 ER and 13 H and 4 BB, including 3 HR, over 9.0 IP and there’s a good chance that the struggles would’ve continued if the season didn’t come to a close.  He’s easy to ignore moving forward.

 

4) A fitting end to Dylan Bundy’s 2018 campaign…
While Bundy got out with a no decision, despite being outpitched by Justin Verlander (6.0 IP, 0 R, 3 H, 1 BB, 10 K), he was fairly good against Houston allowing 3 ER on 6 H and 1 BB, striking out 7, over 6.0 IP.  He had one bad stretch, allowing back-to-back home runs to George Springer (1-3, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 R) and Carlos Correa (2-5, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 R).  Bundy finishes the year having allowed 41 HR over 171.2 IP, a number that’s simply impossible to overcome.  The fact that his Hard% is only pedestrian (34.7% entering the day) certainly doesn’t help.  It would be easy to point towards the home ballpark, and that’s always going to be a detriment, but he ended up allowing 21 HR on the road compared to 20 at home.  Until that changes he’s nothing more than a plug and play option when the matchup is right.

 

5) Just how real is Blake Snell’s breakout performance…
He was pulled after just 82 pitches, as Snell was one of many pitchers who were pulled prematurely during their final start of the season.  That doesn’t take away from the performance, despite a little bit of control issues, as he allowed 1 ER on 3 H and 4 BB, striking out 10, over 5.0 IP against Toronto.  He was generating a lot of swinging strikes (17), which has been one of the keys to the southpaws success this season (he entered the day with a 14.9% SwStr%).  While he also took a step forward in his control overall (3.07 BB/9 entering the day), is that combination enough to justify a 1.89 ERA and 0.97 WHIP?  He entered the day having benefited from a .238 BABIP and 88.1% strand rate, despite pitching in the AL East and pitching to a 35.7% Hard%.  It was a great season and there’s no question about his ability, but there’s a good chance that the value never gets higher.  Given the luck metrics, cashing in and selling high makes a lot of sense for those in keeper leagues.

 

6) Aaron Nola delivers one more time in his bid for a Cy Young…
He’s going to fall short, with Jacob deGrom likely locking up the award already, but in a different year Nola would be a real candidate.  He beat Atlanta last night, tossing 7.0 shutout innings allowing 2 H and 4 BB, striking out 8, to finish at 17-6 with a 2.37 ERA, 0.97 WHIP and 224 K over 212.1 IP.  The 25-year old has benefited from a little bit of luck (he entered the day with a .254 BABIP and 81.9% strand rate), though a 25.5% Hard% (further backing up a career 27.9% mark) talks to those numbers being a bit more realistic.  When you combine that with his proven ability for strikeouts (9.47 K/9), control (2.37 BB/9) and groundballs (49.9%), as well as pitching in the National League, what’s not to like?  He’s emerged as a Top 15 starter and there’s little reason to think he won’t replicate it.

 

7) Any positives for Carlos Rondon disappear in a flash…
Talk about ending on a poor note, Rondon was destroyed by the Minnesota Twins in his final start of the year.  Managing to get just 3 outs, he allowed 8 ER on 6 H and 4 BB.  He finished allowed 4+ ER in five of his final six starts, watching his ERA balloon from 2.70 to 4.18.  His SwStr% was down significantly this season (he entered the day with a 9.2% SwStr%), while he also hasn’t shown great control (3.84 BB/9 prior to yesterday’s debacle) and is going to continue to be prone to home runs (41.7% groundball rate).  While he’s often shown potential and there’s been a lot of hype, there’s no way to trust him heading into 2019.

 

8) Just how real is Steven Matz’ breakout…
The attention for Mets’ pitchers often falls on Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard, so it’s easy to overlook everyone else.  Matz did his best to grab your attention yesterday, albeit against the Marlins, tossing 6.0 shutout innings allowing 3 H and 1 BB, striking out 8.  Unfortunately for him he was matched pitch-for-pitch by Trevor Richards (6.2 IP, 0 R, 6 H, 2 BB, 8 K) and had to settle for a no decision.  That said Matz was a groundball machine (9 groundballs vs. 1 fly ball) and rebounded strong after a terrible start in Washington (3 ER on 5 H and 3 BB over 3.0 IP).  On the season he had a 3.97 ERA and 1.25 WHIP, but with enough control (3.47 BB/9 entering the day) and groundballs (48.0%) there is at least a little reason for optimism.  We’d like to see him develop more in terms of getting opposing hitters to chase outside the strike zone (23.4% O-Swing%) and that will be the real key to him taking the next step forward in his development.

 

9) A miserable finish for Jon Gray…
With the Rockies battling to stay out of the Wild Card play in game Gray turned in a dud, getting a quick hook after allowing 5 ER on 7 H and 0 BB, striking out 1, over 2.0 IP.  Obviously it was an overall disastrous season for Gray, who ends with a 5.12 ERA in a year where several other pitchers have proven capable of being able to excel in Coors Field.  Of course he was even worse on the road (5.34 ERA), and while there was some bad luck at play (.317 BABIP, 68.9% strand rate entering the day) is that enough of a reason to justify the awful performance?  It’s not to say that there isn’t potential appeal, as you’d think there are better days ahead (9.62 K/9, 2.75 BB/9, 47.5% groundball rate).  It was a fitting end to a disappointing season, but it’s possible he earns post-hype sleeper status.

 

10) James Paxton ends the season on a high note…
We all know the biggest issue for Paxton has always been his ability to stay healthy, and not what he brings on the field, and he showed it yet again allowing 1 ER on 7 H and 0 BB, striking out 9, over 6.0 IP against the Rangers.  He struck out 208 batters in just 160.1 IP, while also showing control (2.45 BB/9 entering the day) and an ability to at least limit the Hard% (33.4%).  He did have home run issues in ’18, entering the day with a 1.34 HR/9 courtesy of a 39.2% groundball rate.  Of course he’s shown more upside than that in the past (46.6% career groundball rate) and you have to make contact to be able to take advantage.  If he could ever stay healthy an throw 180-200 innings in a season he’d be a Cy Young candidate, and hopefully that happens in ’19.

Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs

One comment

  1. Carlito says:

    How do you Glasnow for next year? Also is Mikolas a keeper?

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