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Episode 189 – The Waxahachie Swap (Returns)
The latest episode of “Field of Streams” is live!
In this episode, Dylan Higgins and Matthew Dewoskin discuss Joe Maddon’s managerial shenanigans, “good Kyle Gibson” showing up, a show-altering pitching change for Miami, picking anyone against James Shields, Miguel Cabrera’s struggles with lefties this year, avoiding the popularity of picking against Edinson Volquez, trying to be excited about Tim Anderson’s matchup, Dylan getting better at Matt’s number guessing game, Mac Williamson’s viability, Archie Bradley’s bad profile photo, and a secret mind-exploding revelation about show-favorite Jhonny Peralta.
We’re the guys who spurned a late-April trade offer for Drew Smyly, he of the 7-plus ERA over his last ten starts. So of course you want to listen to us when we suggest selling high on a starting pitcher, especially one who’s leading the AL in ERA and Quality Starts. Nonetheless, that’s how we see things with Steven Wright.
You probably know Wright’s story. He was on the road to being a career minor leaguer when, 1n 2011, he had a Pauline conversion to the cult of the knuckleball, made it to the majors at 28 in 2013, found his way into the Red Sox starting rotation last season, and pitched pretty well until suffering a concussion after being hit in the head by a fly ball during the other team’s batting practice—a first, as far as we know. This season, he’s been channeling the 2012-model R.A. Dickey: 2.12 ERA, 8 wins, and 12 Quality Starts in 15 overall. Plus, because he’s a knuckleballer, he’s not doing those horrible things to his arm and shoulder that regular pitchers do, and can last deeper into games (almost 7 innings per start) than other guys. Read the rest of this entry »
It’s time to speculate on a breakout minor leaguer and the potential for saves.
The city of Cleveland may never lose again. The Cavaliers won an NBA championship, Stipe Miocic won the heavyweight title, and even their AHL team won a title. Now, the Indians have won 11 in a row, pushing to 46-30 overall. Is it time for a Cleveland heat check?
cavs came back from 3-1. indians are on a 10-game win streak. lake erie monsters won the AHL. might have to put $20 on the browns at 200-1
— alex (@steven_lebron) June 28, 2016
When looking at Jake Arrieta’s season thus far, it’s really hard to complain. His 1.74 ERA and 0.98 WHIP are virtually indistinguishable from his 2015 combo of 1.77/0.86. Expanding out further, the 28% K rate, 0.3 HR/9, .244 BABIP, and 57% GB rate look virtually identical to the 27%, 0.4, .246, and 56% marks from last year. There has been one stark difference, though. Arrieta’s walk rate has climbed from 6% to 9% this year. To put a finer point on it, he walked 48 batters in all of 2015; he has 40 already this year.
So what’s going on and should we worry at all?
First place I usually look with walk issue is first-pitch strike rate. Is Arrieta falling behind early and losing more hitters? The answer to that is a flat “no”. His 60% rate is the same as it was last year and if you move the decimal out, he’s actually a tiny tick better at 60.4% compared to 60.2%. From there I go to the chase rate. Are batters spitting on more pitches outside of the zone? That is definitely the case so far this year. His O-Swing rate was 34% last year, good for 11th in baseball. He’s down to 29% this year, just 49th among the 96 qualified starters.
• As some brilliant readers pointed out last night, we likely had the grid wrong for Tampa Bay and boy was that poor timing as Alex Colome was placed on the DL with biceps tendinitis. According to Marc Topkin “the DL move is retroactive to June 19, and Colome said he hopes to be ready to pitch again when eligible on Monday.” That might be a bit optimistic but it doesn’t look like Colome’s stay on the DL will be particularly lengthy. As the readers noted, Erasmo Ramirez has struggled so expect Xavier Cedeno to get the first look at saves but this could be a committee of sorts with Danny Farquhar and Matt Andriese in the mix as well.
• One closer gets hurt and another is on the mend. We gave a quick update on Jonathan Papelbon last night and he said he felt great after his outing last night, likely only needing one more simulated game before being ready to go. I would feel free to activate Papelbon as he’s likely to pitch this weekend for Washington and should return to his familiar role in the ninth.
• Although he’s young and cost-controlled, Arodys Vizcaino‘s name has been floated in some rumors although nothing particularly promising with most people expecting the Braves to only consider an offer if it’s as robust as the Ken Giles deal this offseason. Vizcaino allowed three runs (one earned) receiving a loss today but still supports a 2.16/2.70/3.17 ERA/FIP/xFIP line with 46 strikeouts in 33.1 innings pitched. A bad outing or two won’t affect his trade value much but I still would bet on him staying in Atlanta.
• Jonathan Broxton entered the game in the seventh, up 8-4 suggesting that he’s not the favored for saves in St. Louis although he did throw a perfect frame with one strikeout. Kevin Siegrist threw in the eighth and threw a perfect inning with one K of his own. Siegrist faced switch, righty, righty so it’s not as though he was used for a lefty heavy part of the lineup. Seung Hwan Oh came on in the ninth and although he got himself into a bases loaded jam (two hits and a walk) he was able to escape without giving up a run. Oh didn’t receive a save (four run lead) and didn’t throw a particularly clean inning but I feel confident that Broxton -> Siegrist -> Oh is the new order in St. Louis.
• Quick Hits: Francisco Rodriguez allowed a walk but threw a scoreless ninth for his 21st save. Vizcaino allowed for a save situation and Cody Allen pitched around two hits and an earned run for his 15th save on the year. Hector Rondon hasn’t had as many save opportunities as his owners would like and he blew the lead tonight, trying to get the four-out save for the Cubs. Brandon Kintzler preserved the four run lead in the ninth inning and his grasp on the role is firming up, I’ve upgraded him to yellow on the grid below.
|Arizona||Brad Ziegler||Daniel Hudson||Tyler Clippard|
|Atlanta||Arodys Vizcaino||Jim Johnson||Hunter Cervenka|
|Baltimore||Zach Britton||Mychal Givens||Brad Brach||Darren O’Day|
|Boston||Craig Kimbrel||Koji Uehara||Junichi Tazawa|
|CHI (NL)||Hector Rondon||Pedro Strop||Justin Grimm|
|CHI (AL)||David Robertson||Nate Jones||Zach Duke|
|Cincy||Tony Cingrani||Ross Ohlendorf||Blake Wood||Jumbo Diaz|
|Cleveland||Cody Allen||Bryan Shaw||Dan Otero|
|Colorado||Carlos Estevez||Jason Motte||Boone Logan||Jake McGee|
|Detroit||Francisco Rodriguez||Justin Wilson||Shane Greene||Bruce Rondon|
|Houston||Will Harris||Ken Giles||Luke Gregerson|
|KC||Wade Davis||Kelvin Herrera||Joakim Soria|
|LAA||Huston Street||Fernando Salas||Cam Bedrosian||Joe Smith|
|LAD||Kenley Jansen||Pedro Baez||Joe Blanton||Yimi Garcia|
|Miami||A.J. Ramos||David Phelps||Kyle Barraclough|
|Milwaukee||Jeremy Jeffress||Will Smith||Tyler Thornburg|
|Minnesota||Brandon Kintzler||Fernando Abad||Kevin Jepsen||Glen Perkins|
|NY (NL)||Jeurys Familia||Addison Reed||Jim Henderson|
|NY (AL)||Aroldis Chapman||Andrew Miller||Dellin Betances|
|Oakland||Ryan Madson||Sean Doolittle||John Axford|
|Philly||Jeanmar Gomez||Hector Neris||David Hernandez|
|Pittsburgh||Mark Melancon||Neftali Feliz||Tony Watson|
|St. Louis||Seung Hwan Oh||Kevin Siegrist||Jonathan Broxton||Trevor Rosenthal|
|SD||Fernando Rodney||Ryan Buchter||Brandon Maurer|
|SF||Santiago Casilla||Cory Gearrin||Hunter Strickland||Sergio Romo|
|Seattle||Steve Cishek||Joaquin Benoit||Nick Vincent|
|TB||Xavier Cedeno||Erasmo Ramirez||Danny Farquar||Alex Colome|
|Texas||Sam Dyson||Jake Diekman||Matt Bush||Keone Kela|
|Toronto||Roberto Osuna||Jason Grilli||Drew Storen||Brett Cecil|
|Wash.||Shawn Kelley||Felipe Rivero||Sammy Solis||Jonathan Papelbon|
[Green light, yellow light, red light: the colors represent the volatility of the bullpen order.]
Check out last month’s tiers right here. I’m in the midst of an intensely busy week, but I’ll try to respond to any questions you might have in the comments section.
Altuve is outperforming his competition to such a degree that I nearly left Tier Two empty, simply to signify how much better the 26-year-old is than any other fantasy 2B option. Altuve somehow managed to outperform his ridiculous April, with an absolutely bonkers .396/.472/.582 slash in June. He launched four more bombs, stole three more bases, walked more than he struck out for the second consecutive month, it just goes on and on.
I’ll cherry-pick one amazing statistic before moving on: Altuve is hitting .302/.362/.395 in plate appearances in which he finds himself down 0-2 in the count. That’s good enough for a wRC+ of 108. In other words, Jose Altuve is a better hitter down 0-2, than a league-average hitter stepping into a 0-0 count.
Okay, I can’t help myself, here’s one more. You want to know how he’s hitting through a 2-0 count? .564/.698/.923. That’s a 1.621 OPS, with a 34.9% BB rate and 3.2% K rate.
Kinsler, Cano and Murphy are essentially a toss-up for me. Flip a three-sided coin, and pick whichever one turns up. Kinsler’s the most balanced, Cano has the most power, and Murphy’s hitting .350. They’re all borderline elite options.
Zobrist nearly fell to the top of Tier Three, hitting under .200 in June after hitting over .400 in May. There is some reason for concern here, as he suddenly replaced about half of his liners with grounders this month, and posted a high 23.1% soft-hit rate. Considering his track record, and the fact that his fabulous month of May was still just a few weeks ago, and I’m willing to chalk this up to a routine slump for now.
The move from the bottom third of the lineup to the No. 2 spot provided a massive boost to LeMahieu’s fantasy value. Since ascending to the two-hole, he’s scored a rather ridiculous 23 runs in 29 games. His home/road splits are extreme — even by Rockies’ standards — as he’s got a 1.104 OPS at home, versus a .673 OPS on the road. That still averages out to .322/.390/.490 (.880 OPS), and it’s not like he’s about to stop playing half his games in Coors.
Segura’s the other new addition to this tier, as he was in Tier Four last month. The 26-year-old isn’t flashy, but he just keeps getting it done, as he continues to hit over .300. He’s also finally stealing bases again, which is what truly prompted his bump up a tier. After an uninspiring 7-for-12 showing on the basepaths through his first 64 games, he’s gone 6-for-6 in his last ten.
Where the heck did “Jonathan Schoop, .300 hitter” come from? After hitting for a .298 AVG in May, Schoop followed up with a .347 mark in June. He’s also cranking out homers at a consistent rate, with four each in April and May, and five in June. His BABIP over the last two months (.370 in May, .394 in June) is clearly due for some regression, but he’s done enough for me to include him in this company.
Is the good version of Dozier finally back? It certainly seemed so in June, as the 29-year-old hit .344/.413/.634, with five homers and three steals. While his 1.048 OPS this month is obviously encouraging, keep in mind that his OPS hovered in the .640 range for five full months before this recent outburst.
Merrifield is off to a rock-solid start to his major-league career, providing a spark atop the Royals batting order. I recently wrote about the 27-year-old, noting some major changes to his mechanics at the plate, which have worked wonders for the largely unheralded rookie. His minor-league track record suggests some regression could be on the way for his batting average, but as I pointed out in that post two weeks ago, he’s among the MLB leaders in both hard-hit (38.3%) and soft-hit (13.9%) rates.
Additionally, his plate discipline was always far better in the minors (7.8% BB, 15.1% K) than he’s shown so far in the majors (3.3% BB, 20.0% K), so I anticipate some improvement there. My main concern with Merrifield would be if he fell into a slump long enough to drop him in the lineup. He wouldn’t have much value as a No. 7 hitter, for example.
Baez and Profar are obviously the most interesting names here, but both of them receive such sporadic playing time that it’s hard to rank them much higher than this. Given each team’s roster construction, it’s hard to find either player a clear path to regular playing time in 2016. In Baez’s case, even with Kyle Schwarber, Dexter Fowler, Jorge Soler and Tommy La Stella on the DL, he’s still only playing about four out of seven games.
Part of me hopes Baez can start getting more playing time in the outfield, considering the Cubs are currently running either Albert Almora or Chris Coghlan out there every day. Unfortunately, part of me also knows that once The North Side Chicago Hamstring Epidemic of June 2016 — which took out Fowler, Soler, and La Stella — comes to an end, that opportunity dries right up.
If you’re in a crazy-deep league, you might be forced to roster one of these guys. I’m sorry.
This is the “he could wind up back in AAA next week and it wouldn’t surprise me a bit” tier.
Today’s chat transcript. Covered a lot of topics…
: Alright folks let’s get the ball rolling. Looks like there’s a smaller group hanging out today
: I’ve got a hole at 1B who do you like: Matt Adams, Pedro Alvarez, Valbuena or Cron?
: Alvarez is swinging a hot bat now and we know he’s streaky
: Hi! Your thoughts on Jose Peraza as a possible 2B moving forward? Do you think he will stay up and play every day? Thank you!
: He’ll stay up, I see him as a good utility guy rather than an every day sort
: Can Syndergaard still be effective while pitching through a bone spur?
Four straight disaster outings in which Aaron Nola hasn’t seen the fifth inning, and he’s suddenly available on waiver wires. With seven walks and 14 strikeouts in those 13 innings, we already have one clue — his stuff looks unchanged, but something is being lost in translation.