Stephen Strasburg pitched at Arizona on Tuesday night and was handed a beat down in one of the worst outings of his career as he only lasted 3.1 IP while allowing 8 runs (7 ER). On the season, Strasburg is now 2-4 with a 6.06 ERA, 1.71 WHIP, and 35 K/11 BB in 35.2 IP.
I am not sure what exactly is the cause of his putrid performance, but clearly he isn’t doing much right. Strasburg did leave his previous start with some shoulder irritation, so maybe that played a part in Tuesday’s nightmare, but he hadn’t exactly been sharp in his 6 starts before Tuesday either. Yeah, he has an incredibly high .398 BABIP and a horrible 60.2% strand rate, but there comes a point where you examine things and just have to say that perhaps he is creating his own bad luck.
There’s not much in his velocity or pitch selection that jumps out in a negative light, besides the fact that his velocity on his fastball has been down 0.4 MPH from last year, but that’s not that great of a difference to think that it is the primary factor in his awful season thus far. But examining his plate discipline numbers, there are a few stats that stand out (the following stats do not include data from Tuesday night’s game). First, hitters have been making contact off Strasburg at a rate (84.3%) that is way higher than his career rate (75.9%). Coincidentally, Strasburg also has been inducing swinging strikes at a rate (7.0%) that is much lower than his career rate (10.9%). Next, Strasburg is throwing pitches in the strike zone way more than usual (54.2% this year vs. 45.3% career). And then Strasburg is getting much fewer swings on pitches out of the zone (28.0% this year vs. 32.8% career) and when hitters are swinging on pitches out of the zone, they are making contact on them a lot (73.2% this year vs. 60.0% career). To me, all this data would suggest that he is creating his own bad luck by just grooving a lot of pitches that batters can easily handle since he is working within the strike zone so much more than he has in the past. The plummeting swinging strike rate though is a big concern and possibly could be indicative of just losing his stuff so to speak.
Another possible explanation could be he has been pitching with an injury all along, even before the previous start that he left with shoulder irritation. A possible injury could cause loss of command of pitches, which leads to the pitch grooving. Also remember that Strasburg did undergo Tommy John surgery in August of 2010, and somewhere I read that the average threshold for a pitcher to have to undergo Tommy John surgery a second time is around 650 innings pitched. Now I am not sure where I read that or what statistical analysis was used to back up that claim, but I know that I did read it. So if we want to believe that, Strasburg has now pitched 637.1 innings since his Tommy John surgery. Perhaps he is due for another surgery, or perhaps it is something else. Either way, something is not right for Strasburg and he could be in for a long season.
Let’s see what else happened in Tuesday night action…
Matt Holliday – 2 for 5, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 1 R. Holliday just keeps on trucking. Now hitting .346 with 3 HR, 21 RBI, 16 R, and 2 SB, it looks like he is in for another productive year. He’s on pace for a career high strikeout rate (20.5%) and he’s living large off of an astronomical BABIP (.436) though, so that AVG is sure to come down a lot. Nevertheless, he’s still a fairly good model of consistency.
Lance Lynn – 6 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 4 BB, 9 K and the W. I’ve never been a huge fan of Lynn, but he tends to get the job done. He’s now 2-3 with a 3.27 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, and 51 K/14 BB in 41.1 IP. On one hand, his velocity is down 1 MPH, but on the other hand he is dealing with a high BABIP of .346 that should come down. The strikeout rate should come down, but everything else looks fine.
Jason Kipnis – 3 for 4, 1 RBI, 1 R. He is loving being back as the Indians leadoff hitter. Buy into it.
Carlos Carrasco – 6.2 IP, 10 H, 4 ER, 0 BB, 7 K and the L. Another ugly outing on the surface for Car-Car and he is definitely not making my heart go boom-boom yet this year. When I tabbed him to be “This Year’s Corey Kluber” what I really meant (but not really) was that he would be the Corey Kluber of this year as they both currently sit with some ugly ERA’s. However, better days are in store for both of them. Car-Car is just getting crushed by the BABIP boogie monster and the strand rate sandman. He has a 4.84 ERA but a xFIP of 2.48. And I’ll take the 10.70 K/9 and 2.04 BB/9 any day of the week.
Andrew McCutchen – 2 for 4, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 R. McCutchen has been showing signs over the last several days of breaking out of his season long slump, and perhaps now he is officially out of it. I am still weary of what his SB output is going to be this season given that his SB’s have been on the decline and the knee issue he’s had certainly isn’t going to help. But the bat should continue to come around . I did just trade McCutchen ($53) and Patrick Corbin ($2) for Jose Bautista ($43) and Carlos Correa ($5) in a dynasty league, but I am pleased with my trade even if McCutchen does go back to mashing.
Josh Harrison – 1 for 3, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 2 R, 1 SB. So the day after I waive Harrison in one league he hits a HR and gets his first SB of the season. Sounds about right! At least I still have him in a couple other leagues. Maybe this is an indication that he’s ready to bust out of his season long slump. I would continue to hold him if you own him if possible, it just wasn’t possible for me in the league I dropped him in.
A.J. Burnett – 7 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, and the W. Just when we thought Burnett’s career was coming to an end, he’s now got a 1.60 ERA and 1.00 WHIP through 45 IP. The velocity and subsequently the strikeouts are down, but he is inducing ground balls at a very high rate like he always has. Regression will hit him soon, but he’s not going down without a fight. However, I also wouldn’t get too excited over him.
Josh Donaldson – 2 for 5, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 2 R. Donaldson’s HR came off the lefty McFarland. Why any left-handed relief pitcher is ever given a chance to face Donaldson is crazy. Donaldson homers off lefties once every 14 AB in his career, whereas he only homers once every 30 AB versus righties.
Edwin Encarnacion – 2 for 4, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 3 R. After Encarnacion busted out of his HR drought by going deep this past Saturday, I said that Encarnacion would go on to hit 10 more HR in the month because he hits them in bunches. Well, with the 2 HR on Tuesday he has 8 more to go to prove me right! Do it Encar!
Chris Tillman – 6.2 IP, 9 H, 5 ER, 1 BB, 4 K and the L. He’s just not that good for fantasy purposes, but he’s not as bad as his 6.34 ERA. He belongs on the waiver wire.
Alfredo Simon – 7.2 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K. Simon now has a 3.05 ERA and 1.20 WHIP. Do not be fooled! He should end the season with an ERA of 4.00 or higher. Okay, maybe 3.80.
Kyle Gibson – 7 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 6 K. Gibson came into the game with a walk rate higher than his strikeout rate, which is a pretty incredible feat. Not incredible like “Oh my gosh, that new Selena Gomez song is so incredible!” But incredible like “Wow, you actually like Selena Gomez, that is incredible.” Hey, I like what I like! So anyway, the 6 K versus a tough Tigers lineup was surprising from Gibson…
Michael Foltynewicz – 6.2 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 4 BB, 7 K. The young Braves prospect can really dial it up on the radar gun, but he also struggles with his control so this was a classic outing from a pitcher of that skill set. He makes for an interesting option when he will face weaker and impatient offenses.
Jason Grilli – 0.1 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 K with the L. Grilli returned to the mound after being sidelined for a few days with a minor injury and he promptly got charged with a loss. He’s still the man for saves in Atlanta though despite a 5.23 ERA. He actually has an xFIP of 2.09.
Devin Mesoraco – 1 for 1, 1 RBI. The good ol’ pinch hit walkoff. Is this what fantasy owners have to expect the whole season? Mesoraco to pinch hit every couple of days and with the occasional heroics? Reds need to make a decision on what to do with Mesoraco. Don’t they know that they are frustrating the fantasy baseball community?! (If you can’t tell, I am the sad owner of Mesoraco in half my leagues).
Anthony DeSclafani – 6 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 5 K. A so-so outing for “Disco.” He’s not as good as he was after his first couple of starts, but he still holds sleeper appeal. I would hold him if you own him, but if he has one more bad outing before he has a good one, I’d be fine letting him go.
Chris Archer – 7 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 8 K. Archer had an awful first inning as he gave up 4 singles and a walk that led to 2 runs. He looked to be in for a long night, but incredibly he settled down to end up having a very solid game. A nice performance after putting up a couple duds was nice to see, but he’s still in for a little more regression I think. However, he did hold great breakout potential coming into the year and I still think he will have his best year to date. An ERA around 3.00 and a WHIP around 1.15-1.20 are within reach, while striking out a batter per inning.
Brad Boxberger – 1 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K with the SV. Boxberger has been holding down the Tampa Bay closing gig pretty well with Jake McGee not around. Boxberger is 9 for 9 in save opportunities while logging a 1.38 ERA and 1.00 WHIP with 18 K/6 BB in 13 IP. That is some killer stuff and in my mind makes it impossible to remove him from the closer’s role and hand McGee the job back when he comes back this weekend. If Joe Maddon were still managing the team, then I can envision a situation where McGee would be cut into 9th inning time as part of a committee, because Maddon is just funky like that and is always doing contrarian things (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing). But with Kevin Cash at the helm, Boxberger dealing, and the uncertainty of how effective McGee will be returning from an injury, I think Boxberger stays in the role, continues to excel, and does not let go of the gig. Why mess with something that’s going well?
Shin-Soo Choo – 3 for 5, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R. Whatever Adrian Beltre has been drinking the past couple of days, he spiked Choo’s drink with it.
Delino DeShields – 1 for 2, 2 R, 2 SB. I told you last night that he’s got the wheels and should be in line for some regular playing time. With 2 SB on Tuesday, Delino Jr. now has 9 SB on the season and has 2B and OF eligibility in Yahoo. In deeper roto leagues, he needs to be owned.
Eric Hosmer – 2 for 3, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 R. I haven’t talked much about Hosmer this year, but the guy is raking it hitting .326 with 6 HR, 27 RBI, 21 R, and 2 SB in 33 games. I definitely was into Hosmer and his little rat tail thingie coming into the year.
Kyle Blanks – 3 for 4, 1 RBI, 1 R. He was a first baseman that I suggested to keep an eye on last week as he is hitting and getting the playing time on a Rangers team that will not be contending.
Noah Syndergaard – 5.1 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 4 BB, 6 K with the L. The man they call “Thor” made his Major League debut on Tuesday and it went as I would have expected with some control issues but good strikeout rate. For keeper leagues, the top pitching prospect obviously is someone to own. But for re-draft leagues, he’s not a must own, but I always like to grab the prospects when possible and hold them to wait and see. He will get another shot on Sunday when he takes on the Brewers.
Kris Bryant – 3 for 4, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R. That’s 3 HR in the last 4 games now. Just saying.
Jake Arrieta – 8 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 10 K with the W. Ah, now that’s more like it! Finally a dominant performance from the cutter throwing machine! It just so happens it comes the one time that I didn’t use him in DFS, but whatever! There’s no reason to not think that he won’t repeat his breakout performance from last year. Check out this post to find out more detailed reason why. He now is 4-3 with a 3.00 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, and 48 K/11 BB in 45 IP.
Chris Sale – 8 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 11 K with the W. A solid bounce back performance which I will break down in a separate post.
Mike Fiers – 6.1 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 7 K. This line resembles more of what can be expected of Fiers, instead of those other whacky lines that he’s given us so far this season.
Matt Duffy – 3 for 4, 5 RBI. Always fun to see a fantasy irrelevant player for season long leagues post some incredible stat line in a blowout game and then you see the superstar player of the team go 0 for 4. Yeah, I’m talking about you, Buster!
Chris Heston – 9 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 10 K with the W. Well, this is the upside of any pitcher when facing the Astros on a night that they can’t hit. Not to take anything away from Heston, but well, actually I do mean to because I think this was a fluke peformance. His xFIP of 3.13 actually is pretty close to his 2.91 ERA, but that does not make me a believer. He actually does have good control and possible strikeout upside of 8.00 K/9. Not to mention that he pitches his home games in a great pitcher’s park. Wait, did I just contradict what I previously said and make myself a believer in Heston in the matter of two sentences? I am not sure what’s going on here. He could suck, but he could be this year’s Matt Shoemaker! Man, this guy is confusing me!
Ender Inciarte – 1 for 3, 1 HR, 3 BI, 1 R. It was Inciarte’s first bomb of the season, but his main contributions are going to be in AVG, runs, and SB where he sits at .311, 21, and 4. He’s still sitting out every now and again with the crowded situation in Arizona, but he’s still worth having on your fantasy team.
David Peralta – 3 for 5, 1 R. Ditto for Peralta what I said about Inciarte, except he’s got more pop. I said last week to keep an eye on these guys and they just keep producing. Peralta in particular is a great play any time he’s facing a righty.
Mark Trumbo – 2 for 5, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 2 R. Mark hit a couple of Trumbombs on Tuesday and he is proving himself to be healthy after some issues last season. He is now up to a .292 AVG with 6 HR and 19 RBI and he has been hitting out of the 2-hole for the D-Backs in the last week. Not exactly the ideal 2-hitter, but it’s working for the snakes. The improved strikeout rate, where he currently sits more than 7 percentage points below his career rate, gives some hope that he can finally finish a season with better than a .268 AVG.
Rubby De La Rosa – 7 IP, 8 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 4 K with the W. Not a terrible performance against a Nationals offense that has been smokin’ the ball. Not like a cigarette, literal police! I mean they have just been hitting the ball really well! The avoidance of a blow up performance in this situation gives me extra confidence in De La Rosa going forward. His xFIP sits more than a full run below his ERA of 4.50, and he has shown improved control with strikeout potential. He’s definitely worth a flier.
Bryce Harper – 2 for 3, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 R. Another day another HR. That’s 12 HR on the season. I heard a story the other day on the Diamondbacks broadcast that before the season there was some survey given to all Major League players and one of the questions was who is the most overrated player in the Majors? Bryce Harper led the voting in that with 41% of players choosing him. Whoops.
Marcus Semien – 3 for 5, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 R. I love me some Semien. Yes, this is what a breakout season looks like from a solid sleeper pick.
Josh Reddick – 4 for 5, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 2 R. I have to think he will slow down at some point, but no harm in using any hitter in the right matchups while he is red hot.
Stephen Vogt – 1 for 3, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 R. Still killing right-handed pitching and leading the American League in RBI with 30 to go along with his 9 HR. I said last week how valuable his power would play at the catcher position in fantasy leagues. Of course he will tail off some as the season goes on, especially playing mostly every day behind the plate, but I am not sure that there is more of a rock solid option at the position now.
Drew Pomeranz – 7 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 3 K with the W. Though the strikeouts weren’t there, this was a refreshing outing for the young lefty. He still has breakout potential, but he really needs to be more efficient with his pitches as he is only averaging 5.52 IP per start. It will also be worth monitoring if he can develop and use his changeup more. Right now he’s a fastball/curveball pitcher more than 95% of the time, and it’s tough to succeed as a starter in the Majors with just a two-pitch repertoire. He is 2-3 with a 4.66 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, and 30 K/11 BB in 38.2 IP.
Hanley Ramirez – 0 for 3, 1 K. Interesting note: Hanley has 10 extra base hits this year, all of them are HR. Interesting note #2: Hanley is now 1 for 16 since returning to the lineup after missing a few games with a shoulder injury. You have to wonder if that shoulder is still bothering him.
C.J. Wilson – 8 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 6 K with the W. Wilson is #doingwork this season with a 2.66 ERA and 1.00 WHIP. The one area that he’s never been strong in is control, but he’s got a walk rate of 2.06 BB/9 so far. We have become accustomed to seeing that mark in the high 3’s or in the 4’s from C.J., but maybe he’s onto something new this year. Albeit, his strikeout rate is also way down and he is getting some BABIP luck, but if the control can stick then he can be at least a halfway decent fantasy option. Okay okay, quarterway decent.
Howie Kendrick – 4 for 5, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 R. Somehow you just knew that Kendrick was going to have a big year when Andrew Friedman (and Farhan Zaidi I suppose) traded for him. In Friedman we trust. He’s got a .308 AVG with 4 HR, 17 RBI, 19 R, and 2 SB in the early going.
Alex Guerrero – 3 for 5, 2 RBI, 2 R. Is it just me or does every Dodger “reserve” (I put it in quotes because more or less most of them are seeing close to everyday playing time right now due to other player injuries) seem to be crushing the ball and posting a .350 AVG with a 1.000 OPS? They got Guerrero, Justin Turner, Scott Van Slyke, Andre Ethier…
Andre Ethier – 5 for 5, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 R. Speaking of Ethier, he gets his own mention here for a perfect day at the plate. Ethier was wanting a trade in the pre-season because he was going to be the odd man out in the outfield, but playing time aside, I wonder if he still wants a trade or if he wants to be a part of what seems to be a very special Dodgers team that, in my mind, have to be considered the favorites to win it all. Ethier is hitting .329 on the year and for as long as he is in the starting lineup, he is worth a play.
Yasiel Puig – While we are talking about the Dodgers, Puig suffered a setback with his strained hamstring, which is going to give all these aforementioned Dodgers the chance to pad their stats even more.
Giancarlo Stanton – 2 for 2, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R. Stanton hit one out of the park. Literally. Parking lot material. Watch it.
Dan Haren – 4.1 IP, 11 H, 6 ER, 0 BB, 4 K with the L. From being traded, to nearly retiring because you didn’t want to leave your home in LA, to getting whooped by the team that traded you. Welcome back to LA, Dan! At least you can sleep in your own bed tonight…
Nelson Cruz – 2 for 4, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 R. .349 AVG, 15 HR, 29 RBI. Too early to give him the Triple Crown? Yeah, as I don’t know how he’s pulling off a .349 AVG and .349 BABIP off a 13.7% line drive rate. Too early to give him the home run crown? Not at all.