Thor Drops the Hammer on the Brew Crew (and other notes from 5/17/15)

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***I apologize for the delay in these notes from Sunday 5/17/15.  I had jury duty all day Monday!  But I am catching up.

Noah Syndergaard of the New York Mets is commonly known as “Thor” amongst his teammates and soon the whole baseball community will be calling him that and will understand the power he wields.  After watching him pitch on Sunday versus the Brewers, I see why he has that moniker, with his big frame and flowing locks of blond hair.  He even has “Thor” embroidered on his glove so obviously it is something that he embraces, but who wouldn’t?  Whether it’s the Norse mythological god or the Marvel superhero character that he is being likened to (though essentially it is the same thing since the Marvel character is based off Norse mythology), it must be nice to be seen in the same light as someone so mighty.

Syndergaard shut down the Brewers on Sunday, going 6 IP allowing 1 ER on on 3 H and 1 BB while logging 5 K on his way to his first Major League victory.  After his first Major League start last week versus the Cubs at Wrigley Field, I said that his mediocre start went as I would have expected out of him in his debut, as he had some command and control issues but was able to miss some bats to get the strikeouts.  Well, before his second Major League start with the Brewers, I told a friend that this matchup  was much more favorable for Syndergaard and I expected him to come out and show an ace type of line.  The reasons that I told my friend that I believed this were because this was his first start in front of his home crowd that he would be pumped up for and he already got the big league jitters out at Chicago, and that the Brewers are not a patient hitting team as they ranked third to last in walk rate, which would help Syndergaard have better results in the end.  I watched this whole start and I loved what I saw from Syndergaard.  I know that I said after his first start that he’s not a must own in redraft leagues, but I am going to say that he is very close to a must own (if not one) after seeing him with my own eyes.  I don’t think that he will be as dominant as Matt Harvey was in his first full season, as he will likely experience some growing pains and some control issues every now and again, but in the right matchups he is going to be a very good play.

So with Syndergaard, the Mets have Thor who wields a mighty hammer (his devastating curveball) that only he has the strength and power of picking up.  Mets’ incumbent ace who has returned from Tommy John surgery, Matt Harvey, has earned the nickname of “The Dark Knight” for being the hero that the borough of Queens in New York City had been waiting for to come and save them to instill hope within the Mets organization that they could rise again soon.  So what other superheroes do the mets have on their pitching staff? Jacob deGrom is a really skinny guy as in his 6’4″ frame he only weights 180 lbs. and he looks like he is going to break whenever he is up to bat.  He also was a relative unknown before his 2014 breakout rookie campaign.  So for these reasons I will deem him as Steve Rogers, a frail young man who was enhanced to perfection to become Captain America.  Jon Niese can be Hawkeye just for the mere fact that he is a lefty and the Jeremy Renner portrayal of Hawkeye in The Avengers films is also left-handed (though in the Marvel comics he was right-handed).  And Bartolo Colon can be Groot from Guardians of the Galaxy for reasons that may or may not have to do with the attraction (or lack thereof) of each of their faces.

Let’s go ahead now and recap the Sunday fun day action.

Shelby Miller – 9 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 K with the W.  I know what you’re thinking.  How does a pitcher who comes within 1 out of a no-hitter (and still gets a 2-hit CGSO) not make it as the headliner of the daily notes?  Well, I already recently hyped Shelby up in my post “Shelby Miller and Jake Odorizzi, CUT It Out!”  So really it is not much of a surprise to me, nor should it be to you if you read that post, that Miller came through with a game like this.  Yes, I’ve acknowledged before that regression is coming for him, but I also showed how he has transforming himself into a different and more effective pitcher, so he may not regress as much as you might think.

Dee Gordon – 1 for 4.  Somehow in a game where his team was no hit for 8.2 innings, Dee finds a way to still get a hit.  He’s hitting .420 with 63 hits in 35 games played through Sunday.  DEE-licious.

Henderson Alvarez – 5.1 IP, 9 H, 6 ER, 2 BB, 2 K with the L.  Alvarez returned to the rotation after a DL stint with right shoulder inflammation and immediately displayed his rust.  He’s not a great fantasy bet to begin with due to his lack of strikeouts, but as he showed last year, he can provide value with decent ERA and WHIP as long as he gets a little bit of BABIP luck on those ground ball tendencies of his.  I am not a huge fan of his, but I actually did pick him up in one league before he came off the DL, only to drop him before he made this start.

Todd Cunningham – 2 for 4, 1 R.  I’ve mentioned Cunningham the last couple of days as he had back to back 3 for 4 games.  Man, he is really tailing off with this 2 for 4 game!  He has shown good contact skills in the Minors, but this is just nothing but a little hot streak and I don’t think that he’s going to be a contributor in many other ways.  Leave him on the wire.

Carlos Gomez – 0 for 2.  Gomez left the game after being sniped by a 96 MPH fastball as Thor dropped the hammer on him.  BOOM HEADSHOT!  He looked shook up initially, as anyone would be, but he got off the field under his own power and seems to have avoided anything serious.

Nori Aoki – 3 for 6, 3 RBI, 1 SB.  Aoki came back with a vengeance after sitting out three straight games.  With Hunter Pence being back from the DL, the Giants might juggle their lineup soon, which could mean a move down the order for Aoki, but I thought at the beginning of the year that Aoki was the proper guy to leadoff for the Giants and I still do.  I think Bruce Bochy gets it right and sticks with Aoki at the top, at least when he is in the lineup.  He gets on base a lot and is a great contact hitter that can make things happen on the base paths.  He’s not the greatest of players to have in fantasy, but he does hold some value, especially in any leagues that reward low strikeouts and/or K/BB ratio.

Brandon Belt – 3 for 4, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 3 R, 1 BB, 1 K.  I’ve been jocking Belt the last couple of days saying that he’s going to heat up and that Pence returning to the lineup would help.  Pretty sure I said to pick him up!  This is his third straight game with a HR, so pull those pants up and put the Belt back on!  The downside is that those were his first 3 HR of the season, but hey, as a fantasy owner I am only concentrating on what he’s going to do for the rest of the season right now.  Is it a coincidence that he finally busted out the whooping stick on a weekend series at Cincinnati where Todd Frazier plays?  #ThisYearsToddFrazier #probablynotbutatleasthesfinallydoingsomething

Hunter Pence – 2 for 5, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 R, 1 K.  Pence is making an impact right away in his return.  Obviously get him back in your lineups.

Chris Heston – 2 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 2 K.  Heston left me baffled after his last start when he silenced the Astros.  He left me doubting myself seconds after saying it was a fluke performance.  I was a very confused guy as you can see in this post.  But after his game on Sunday, I feel better about myself.  However, this game was interrupted with a rain delay, so that could have played a role in the knocking around that he underwent.  I am not too optimistic about Heston, but we’ll see.

Brandon Phillips – 2 for 4, 2 RBI, 2 R, 1 K.  Phillips has really had a resurgent season so far in 2015.  All signs last year suggested that he was going into the twilight of his career, but he already has 5 SB this season after having just 7 SB in the last two seasons combined.  He is also chipping in with a .310 AVG with a decreased strikeout rate, while also contributing decently in RBI and R with 17 of each.  However, I am not expecting this to last as the season goes on and as his aging second baseman’s body gets some more mileage on it.

Anthony DeSclafani – 3 IP, 6 H, 6 ER, 3 BB, 2 K with the L.  Uh oh, if you were paying attention, I said after his last start that I would be fine waiving “Disco” if he had one more clunker before he had another good start.  This would qualify as a clunker and he does not need to be on many fantasy rosters anymore.  I also said a few days ago that the Cuban prospect Raisel Iglesias could replace DeSclafani if he doesn’t improve.  However, as mentioned when talking about Heston, this game did have a rain delay, so that may be Disco’s saving grace here.  But I would still throw him back to waivers for now.

Ben Revere – 3 for 4, 1 RBI, 1 SB.  Revere is having an underwhelming year at the plate after being a .300 hitter in the last two seasons with the Phillies.  With the 3-hit effort on Sunday, he has upped his AVG to .255.  But because he is not getting hits and getting on base a whole lot, his SB total has suffered as well (7).  However, with a 32.8% line drive rate, he has deserved better than a .285 BABIP.  With his speed, he has a career .318 BABIP.  So I do expect him to get that AVG boost soon, with the stolen bases to follow.

Maikel Franco – 2 for 4, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 R.  Franco’s first Major League HR.  That might get you excited, Franco owners in particular, but for the rest of this season my expectations are tempered for the rookie third baseman.  .260 AVG and 10 HR is what I have been saying.

Sean O’Sullivan – 6 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 4 K with the W.  A nice start from a not so nice pitcher.  Leave him be.

Josh Collmenter – 6 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 1 K with the L.  After the Nationals demolished him last week, a start against the Phillies looked like a sight for Collmenter’s sore eyes, but he got a mini beating.  I’m not sure how this guy is still holding down a starting rotation job.  He is best suited for being a mop-up man, and I don’t mean that in the baseball term way.

Garrett Richards – 7.2 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 7 K with the L.  So far Richards is seemingly showing no ill effects from the knee injury that he came back from, which is a great sign.  However, don’t fall in love with his 2.29 ERA and 1.02 WHIP just yet.  With a .220 BABIP and his SIERA up at 3.98, he has not been as good as it looks.  But if he can decrease his walk rate that is currently at 3.89 BB/9 (vs. 2.72 BB/9 last year), then that will help to offset some of the expected regression.  I think the walks will come down soon as he continues to get farther removed from the knee injury.

Mike Wright – 7.1 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6 K with the W.  Wright was holding it down at AAA with a 2.64 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, and 30 K/9 BB in 30.2 IP, but judging by his Minor League career numbers, I don’t see Wright being a viable fantasy option.  But this spot start was nice, and a few more like this could change that stance, if he’s given the chance.

Edinson Volquez – 7 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 5 K with the W.  The popular belief was that Volquez would not match his 2014 season since he was coming back to the American League.  But so far with a 3-3 record, 2.74 ERA, and 1.05 WHIP, he is silencing the critics (me).  With his 10.1% swinging strike rate, his 6.93 K/9 actually seems low and that could jump up to closer to 8.00 K/9 if he can keep getting those swings and misses.  But I also have to expect that his ERA will be closer to 4.00 than 3.00 by season’s end.  I would try to sell someone on his ERA and WHIP.

Kennys Vargas – 0 for 1.  Vargas made a pinch-hit appearance but then was sent down to AAA after the game.  It’s been a disappointing season for “Lil’ Papi” with just a .248 AVG, 3 HR, and 10 RBI.  He has some nice power, but is failing to do anything with it when I thought that he would be a source of 20-25 HR this year.  He will be back with the Twins at some point, but for now he will try to find his stroke in the Minors.

Chris Archer – 6 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 4 K with the W.  Archer continues to be a sharpshooter.  4-4, 2.47 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 62 K/16 BB in 54.2 IP.  He’s not outperforming his SIERA by too much, but I still feel he is pitching above his head a bit and that his ERA ends around 3.00 .

Jake McGee – 1 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K.  A near perfect inning from McGee in his 2015 debut.  I have said before that Brad Boxberger doesn’t deserve to relinquish closing duties for the Rays, nor should he have to be subject to a platoon/committee.  But Kevin Cash is making it sound like McGee will be seeing some save situations.  I disagree with it, but what can you do?  As a McGee owner in a couple of leagues, I wouldn’t necessarily mind, but Boxberger has just been so great.

Colin McHugh – 7 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 9 K with the W.  McHugh’s breakout 2014 campaign was incredibly unexpected, so the natural reaction would have been to write it off as a fluke.  But due to the incredible spin rate in his curveball, I had faith in him that he would come close to replicating his success.  He isn’t too far off.

Luke Gregerson – 1 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K with the SV.  Gregerson hasn’t been rock steady as the Astros closer, but he has gotten the job done.  Saves are saves and you take them however you can.

Jorge Soler – 0 for 4, 2 K.  Soler really appears to be struggling.  I thought he would be doing great things, but he’s hitting just .273 with 3 HR, 14 RBI, 16 R, and is without a SB.  When Soler hits the ball, he is usually lining it somewhere as he has the 5th best line drive rate in the Majors at 31.9%.  But the problem for him is actually hitting the ball.  His 33.3% strikeout rate is bad enough for 6th worst in the Majors, and it is validated by a 15.4% swinging strike rate that is 12th worst.  If he is able to cut down on those swings and misses then he will turn into something special, but it is looking like the lack of experience in the upper Minors is hindering him in his quest.

Jake Arrieta – 7 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 7 K with the L.  Still proving to be an ace type.

Gregory Polanco – 0 for 4, 3 K.  Polanco has hit a rough 0 for 13 stretch that has dropped his AVG down to .243.  I have had an affinity for Polanco since Spring Training of 2014, but he’s letting me down.  He is on pace for 40 SB, but the AVG and 10-15 HR power aren’t showing up yet.  If he isn’t careful then he is going to find himself losing some playing time as Josh Harrison can easily fill in an outfield spot when needed, which would then leave both Jung Ho Kang and Jordy Mercer in to cover the left side of the infield.  At the very least, if Polanco doesn’t get his bat going, he can be slid down in the order while the suddenly heating up Harrison reprises his role as the leadoff man.

A.J. Burnett – 7 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 5 BB, 7 K with the W.  Burnett continuing to do it well, and this was on a windy day at Wrigley Field that Vegas odds makers set the over/under run total line at 11, which makes the outing even a bit more impressive.

Mark Melancon – 1 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K with the SV.  Melancon’s velocity is still not improving, but he’s managing decently.  Still a situation to monitor if he starts to get hit hard.

Carlos Carrasco – 8 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 9 K with the L.  Carrasco continues to be a victim of some misfortune.  Consider this:  Carrasco’s 2014 stats included a 2.55 ERA, 2.66 xFIP, and 2.58 SIERA.  So pretty much he was right on line with what could have been expected from him.  However, 2015 is a different story as he has a 4.98 ERA, 2.69 xFIP, and 2.81 SIERA.  So while his xFIP and SIERA marks are very close to last year, his ERA is nearly 2.50 runs higher.  That doesn’t add up.  You know how Kluber reversed the trend of his “underwhelming” season?  Carrasco is going to start to do the same thing very soon.

Delino DeShields – 1 for 4, 1 R, 1 SB, 1 K.  Delino continues to do good things after I’ve talked him up so much.  He might flame out soon, but he also should have higher ownership with his 2B eligibility.  Give him a whirl!

Nick Martinez – 5 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 5 BB, 6 K with the W.  With 5 free passes, Martinez was pretty lucky to escape this game allowing only 1 ER.  Martinez just isn’t very good and despite the 1.88 ERA, he should be on the waiver wire in most fantasy leagues.  The numbers tell me that he is more of a 4.50 ERA type of guy at this stage of his career.

Ross Detwiler – Detwiler hit the DL, but unless you’re his parents, this is pretty irrelevant.

Billy Burns – 3 for 4, 1 R, 1 SB.  Burns quieted down for a bit with the return of Coco Crisp cutting in to his playing time, but not to be outdone by fellow speedster Deshields, Burns had a few base knocks and a SB.  Deshields is the new speedster flavor of the week, but Burns still merits consideration.

Avisail Garcia – 3 for 5, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 R, 1 K.  I said the other day that it would be nice to see more power out of Garcia.  Ask and you shall receive.  It’s his 4th HR of the year and this really could be a breakout year, but one thing is for sure — that .346 AVG that he ended Sunday with should be coming down.  Garcia has the 2nd worst swinging strike rate in the league at 17.1%, yet his strikeout rate of 21.2% isn’t too terrible.  More strikeouts should be coming if he doesn’t improve that swinging strike rate, which then in turn should bring his AVG down much.

Jeff Samardzija – 8 IP, 8 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 5 K with the W.  Here is what I said about Samardzija in my post “The Bigger They Are, Samardzija They Fall.”  It still applies.

Ike Davis – Davis landed on the DL with a strained quad.  Davis is a nice role/platoon player for the A’s, but it’s hard to recommend him for fantasy, even as part of a fantasy platoon.

Brad Miller – 1 for 4, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R.  Still streaking!  Like Frank the Tank.  Two Old School Frank the Tank references in one week. in the daily notes.  I said this the other day about Miller: “…deserving of your fantasy roster consideration at a shallow shortstop position as long as he is seeing regular time in the 2-hole.”  Well this game he led off, so I amend my previous statement to “…deserving of your fantasy roster consideration at a shallow shortstop position as long as he is seeing regular time in the 2-hole or leading off.”

James Paxton – 8 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 2 K with the W.  Despite some popularity as a sleeper/breakout pick, I wasn’t a fan of Paxton coming into the season.  But he does now have two scoreless starts in a row.   However, I see this as more of the Red Sox offense slumping since the beginning of May than I see it as Paxton doing work.  The Red Sox are averaging just 2.38 runs per game in May.

Carson Smith – 1 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K.  In this age of extreme volatility for closers and higher usage of closer by committees, I feel that I need to point out what Carson Smith of the Mariners is doing.  With a scoreless inning on Sunday, Smith now has a 1.02 ERA, 0.62 WHIP, and 22 K/4 BB in 17.2 IP.  He has worked his way up the food chain in that bullpen and should Fernando Rodney falter, Smith could step in nicely.  He is a 25-year old righty with closer experience in the Minors and he’s done nothing but impress since a late season call up last year.  For dynasty leagues this makes for a good stash play, as Rodney is in the final year of his contract (and of course could blow up at a moment’s notice).

Mookie Betts – 0 for 4.  Betts is now hitting just .221 at the plate, which is well below my expectations for him.  But with such good contact skills (just a 13.7% strikeout rate), Betts should see an upward trend in his AVG soon.  He is living off a .226 BABIP that is the result of popping the ball up a lot at a 16.4% infield fly ball rate (off a 47.3% fly ball rate).  Betts hitting the ball in the air so much is not allowing him to use that great speed of his to get base hits on the ground and put pressure on the defense to make plays.  I am still a big Betts believer and won’t be getting off his train anytime soon.  To add to my Betts love, the Mookie Monster can solve a Rubix cube in less than 2 minutes, he can do a 360 degree slam dunk despite being only 5 foot 9, and he has bowled a perfect game in his life…twice.  In comparison to me, I am not a professional baseball player (I just write about them), I used to play with a Rubix cube at my grandmother’s house when I was a kid but never could come close to solving it, I am also 5 foot 9 but can barely touch the bottom of the backboard (but I’m lethal beyond the arc), and my best game of bowling is in the 190’s.

Mike Bolsinger – 6 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 6 K with the W.  Bolsinger has been a nice find for the Dodgers after acquiring him from the Diamondbacks in the off-season.  Bolsinger’s AAA stats in 4 games have him with 2-0 record, 1.42 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, and 28 K/6 BB in 19 IP.  And now after his start on Sunday, Bolsinger has tallied 3 starts with the Dodgers for a 2-0 record, 1.04 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, and 14 K/6 BB in 17.1 IP.  He has filled in nicely in the Dodgers rotation as they try to replace the expected production of injured players Hyun-Jin Ryu and Brandon McCarthy.  It goes without saying though that Bolsinger is getting very fortunate and he’s in for regression.  However, given the way that he was dominating AAA, the 27-year old Bolsinger may be on to something and could maintain some solid productivity.  For now, I think he is worth a pick up to wait and see what he does, and feel okay to start him if you do pick him up.  And then we can reevaluate his situation after a couple more starts.

Kenley Jansen – 1 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K with the SV.  Back to work closing games.  He’s one of the best.

Justin Upton – 3 for 3, 2 HR, 2 RBI, 2 R, 1 BB.  On the offensive side of things, Upton is proving his worth for the new look Padres and he is laughing in the face of Petco Park as 8 of his 10 HR have come at home.  That is unexpected, but Upton in his good years does have the type of power that can play anywhere.

Ian Kennedy – 5 IP, 3 H, 6 ER, 4 BB, 6 K with the L.  Another weird Petco Park trend for a player is that Kennedy has now given up 6 HR at home versus just 2 HR on the road.  Is Petco Park all of a sudden a hitter’s haven?  Probably not, but offense has definitely picked up there this season for both the Padres and the visiting teams.  Kennedy now has a 6.75 ERA and 1.47 WHIP through 6 starts and he is becoming very frustrating for fantasy owners.

Bryce Harper – 3 for 4, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 3 R, 1 BB.  14th HR for Bryce.

Danny Espinosa – 1 for 3, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 R, 1 BB, 2 K.  Espinosa has been doing some great things for the Nationals this year.  He’s 28 years old and on his way to a career season.  More on Espinosa to come if he keeps hitting.

Stephen Strasburg – 5 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 7 K with the W.  Not the greatest of starts from Strasburg who took a pummeling last start at the hands of the Diamondbacks.  But it’s progress.  I still think something could be wrong with him.

Jason Heyward – 0 for 4, 2 K.  Mysteriously, Mike Matheny put Heyward at the lead off spot after he had one good game.  Heyward responded with an 0-fer.  Sweet lineup management.

Kolten Wong – 1 for 3, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K.  Meanwhile, the player that was moved down in the order on Sunday to make room for Heyward at the top was Wong and he hit a HR.  Matheny nailing it?  Not so much.

Lance Lynn – 7.1 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 7 K with the W.  Impressive game to hold the Tigers in check.  Like I said before, I am not a Lynn fan, but he always seems to get the job done.

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