Even though the A’s didn’t take Parker with them on their trip to Japan, no one expected him to languish in Triple-A for very long. After 20 innings in Sacramento, Parker finally rejoined the A’s, just in time to make a start against the White Sox, winners of their last four heading into Tuesday night’s game. Welcome to majors, kid, don’t hang a breaking ball to Adam Dunn! It isn’t the worst assignment Parker could have gotten, the Rangers are a division rival after all, but it will be a nice test. One game, good or bad, isn’t going to yield a ton of useful information, but at least Parker will face a team that approximates an average or slightly above major league offense. If he were facing either the aforementioned Rangers or the Pirates in an interleague game, interested observers would have even less useful data with which to work.
Parker’s minor league numbers portend a solid strikeout rate, but not a particularly low WHIP or ERA. This isn’t to say he won’t get those marks down at some point, but even if he has a Rookie of the Year-caliber season — something he definitely has the talent to do — I think it will largely be on the back of a large number of strikeouts, which leave voters with a sense of that he has been dominant, even though he actually allows a decent number of baserunners. Playing in Oakland will help keep his ERA low, but unless the A’s offense gets a jolt, wins could be a little tougher to come by for the foreseeable future.
For players in keeper or dynasty leagues, if Parker isn’t gone already, now might be a good time to stash him. I expect him to be up for the rest of the season, since there’s almost no incentive for the A’s to drop him back down to Triple-A under the new CBA, which means he’ll contribute this year and only get better from there. Streamers could do worse than Parker on Wednesday as he’ll be facing the team with the second highest number of strikeouts in one of the most pitcher-friendly parks in baseball. He should be good for at least a few strikeouts and shouldn’t give up any cheap home runs.
The Cubs don’t have a remarkable team BABIP at .293, but they do have a pair of rather remarkable outliers. At this point in the season, it isn’t hard to have a high BABIP because of the relatively small sample, but high is one thing, Bryan LaHair and Clevenger’s .524 and .588 respective marks are something else.
The good news for Clevenger is that he’s killing it right now. A .526/.550/.737 line, even in just 20 PAs, is excellent. The bad news is that it’s pretty much unsustainable for the BABIP reasons I noted above, and while the regression monster is coming, I don’t think Clevenger is going to crater completely. He isn’t striking out at an excessive rate, just 10 percent of his PAs so far, and he is stinging opposing pitching to the tune of a 35 percent line drive rate. His minor league numbers lend credence to the idea that he can handle the bat relatively well, which gives me all the more hope that even after his numbers settle down, he’ll still have a batting average in the .280-.300 range.
One thing that limits Clevenger’s value is that he’s neither the Cubs’ catcher of the present nor the future. Geovany Soto is going to continue to get the lion’s share of the playing time until the Cubs can trade him and Welington Castillo is knocking on the door with a .274/.341/.511 line over four seasons in Triple-A.
On production and potential, I actually like Clevenger going forward as a second catcher options in deep 2C leagues, but his playing time situation is just unworkable. If the Cubs trade Soto sometime soon, maybe he finally becomes playable, but I just don’t see him being worth a grab — no matter how deep the league is — when he’s getting just a third of the PAs.