U Can’t Touch This, Hammel Time! (and other notes from 5/19/15)

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Well, when you got three different Jason Hammel‘s coming at you like a Denny’s Grand Slam hologram card like in the picture above, I imagine it would be hard to touch him!  Do you remember those hologram collector’s cards from Denny’s?  When I was a kid, Friday nights were always “out to eat dinner” nights with my parents and brother.  The places that we would frequent the most included Coco’s, Bob’s Big Boy, Flakey Jake’s, and of course Denny’s.  Denny’s had the promotion if you ordered one of their signature “Grand Slam Meals” then you would receive a collector’s Grand Slam hologram card by Upper Deck.  So being the collectors that we were, we would venture out to Denny’s restaurants to try and collect all the different players cards that they had to offer.  We wouldn’t just go to the local Denny’s, because each restaurant location had different cards.  So we would go to Denny’s a couple towns over in each direction to try and get them all.  But I just remember ending up with one too many Danny Tartabull cards.

But anyway, onward to talk about MC Hammel.  Hammel pitched on Tuesday at Petco Park versus the Padres and had an excellent game giving up one unearned run on 3 hits and 0 walks while striking out 8 Padres in 7 IP in a no-decision.  The brilliant effort leaves him with a 3-1 record, 2.70 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, and 49 K/6 BB in 53.1 IP.  Now we have seen Hammel go on some pretty good runs over the last few years, but what stands out about this 8 start stretch to begin the season is the low amount of walks.  His 6 walks in 53.1 IP translates to a walk rate of 1.01 BB/9, which would easily be a career best and he would be quite the force if he can maintain it.

Over the course of his career, Hammel has had a slightly better than average walk rate with 2.99 BB/9 heading into the 2015 season.  However, he did showoff one of his best seasons in the category last year with a 2.25 BB/9, so maybe he was on to something.  But is Hammel going all 2014 Phil Hughes on us this year when Hughes had a miniscule 0.69 BB/9 and an all-time best strikeout to walk ratio of 11.63?

Hammel’s great first pitch strike rate of 63.0% backs up the low walk rate, but his PITCHf/x rate of pitching within the strike zone 50.9% of the time, although higher than the recent years and 28th best in the Majors this year, is not indicative of a walk rate as low as he has.  For comparison, out of the top 7 pitchers in BB/9 in 2014 (all 1.41 BB/9 or lower), 6 of the 7 pitchers were in the top 10 in zone% ranging from 52.6%-61.1%.  Hammel could end up being that one who does sneak in to the top of the rankings in BB/9 despite not being one of the elite in zone%, but the odds are against him.

So what can we expect from Hammel the rest of the season?  Even if his walk rate does not remain as low as it currently is, which I don’t believe it will, he definitely seems to have turned a corner with his command and control dating back to last season.  So he can surely end up maintaining a walk rate under 2.00 BB/9.  His slider is his out pitch and it is good enough to allow him to keep a strikeout rate at or above 8.00 K/9.  Some areas that he may see some regression in are in his HR allowed and BABIP.  Currently, he is allowing HR at a rate of 0.84 HR/9, which is well below his marks the last couple of seasons.  And his BABIP of .262 is likely not sustainable, and although it may not get as high as his career mark of .304, it is surely to increase at least somewhat.  One more thing with Hammel is that he has never gone very deep into games and he has had some injuries that he has dealt with over the last few seasons, so he is not exactly the perfect model of health.

But with all this being said, Hammel still should be a fairly productive pitcher for the rest of the season.  For the remainder of the season I’ll give him:  9 W-6 L, 3.48 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, and 122 K/31 BB in 137 IP.

Now let’s see what else happened on Tuesday…

Danny Santana – 0 for 4, 1 R.  Santana began the season leading off, but then was moved to 9th in the order after struggling a lot.  He hit lead off in Tuesday’s game but put up an 0-fer.  Here’s what I said about him in the pre-season: “He is going to be given a chance to hit leadoff again this year for the Twins, but I can foresee a situation where he struggles to hit because he will see what it’s like to have a more normal BABIP and then he will either get moved to the bottom of the batting order or get benched and then his season will be deemed useless.”  He is hitting .246 with 0 HR and 4 SB.  Get rid of him if you have him, but you never should have had him in the first place.  #nailedit

Glen Perkins – 1 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K with the SV.  Perkins is quietly having a really good season as the Twins closer.  He is perfect in save opportunities at 14 for 14, and he has a 1.47 ERA and 0.87 WHIP and has yet to walk a batter in 18.1 IP.  Surely an underrated option at closer.

Gregory Polanco – 0 for 5, 2 K.  Oh boy.  I talked in Sunday’s notes about how he has been slumping and that he could begin to lose playing time or get moved down in the order if it continued.  He has a good matchup on Wednesday with Mike Pelfrey taking the bump for the Twins, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he got the day off to clear his head.  If he’s in there though, Pelfrey is a guy that Polanco can take advantage of, not in a sexual way.

Jung Ho Kang – 3 for 5, 1 RBI, 1 R.  He really should be owned in most 12+ team leagues.  SS and 3B eligiblity…  *HINT HINT

Josh Harrison – 3 for 4, 1 RBI, 1 R, 1 K.  Harrison continues to rake and has his average up to .245.  Harrison and Polanco have had a sudden performance reversal.

Francisco Liriano – 2 IP, 5 H, 7 ER, 2 BB, 2 K with the L.  This was foreseeable.  I’ve mentioned a few times how the Twins have just been murdering left-handed pitching, especially of late.  Liriano drops to 1-4 with a 4.15 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, and 52 K/21 BB in 47.2 IP.

Jacoby Ellsbury – 0 for 1, 1 R, 1 BB.  Ellsbury hit the DL with a right knee sprain.  That’s a big loss for the Yankees as Ellsbury and Brett Gardner have been such a force at the top of their lineup.  If only they had some sort of platoon to replace Ellsbury with.  I don’t know, say Rajai Davis and Anthony Gose?

Mark Teixeira – 2 for 3, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 R, 2 BB.  Bombs away.  12 HR for Tex and he’s got his average up to .258.  Told you he would get that baby up.

Nathan Eovaldi – 4.1 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 5 K.  Eovaldi just flat out gets hit hard.  Yeah he can average 96 MPH on the radar gun, but when it’s dished out on a frozen rope with no movement it is pretty easy to hit for Major League batters.  I thought maybe that he would have a breakout year with the combination of his great velocity and adding a new splitter, but the results have not been encouraging at all.  He is 3-1 with a 4.73 ERA, 1.53 WHIP, and 36 K/13 BB in 45.2 IP.

Andrew Miller – 0.2 IP, 1 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 2 K with the L.  Miller finally gave up a run.  There goes the perfect season.

Ian Desmond – 2 for 5, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 R, 2 K.  Desmond is now on a nice little 5-game hit streak and perhaps just in time as he can take advantage of teammate Jayson Werth heading to the DL with an injured wrist.  With Werth to the DL, Desmond will most likely be hitting higher up in the order everyday to give him some extra value.  He hit out of the 2-hole on Tuesday.

Bryce Harper – 1 for 4, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R, 1 BB, 2 K.  No slowing him down right now.  HR #15.

Ryan Zimmerman – 1 for 5, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 R, 2 K.  It’s been a bit of a slow start for Zimmerman, but the HR was his 5th of the season and it was of the walkoff variety.

Gio Gonzalez – 5 IP, 6 H, 6 ER, 2 BB, 1 K.  Nat-Gio got knocked around a bit by the Yanks to bring his ERA to 4.94 and WHIP to 1.54, but his SIERA is doing just fine at 3.51.  He’s not striking out as many batters as he is used to but his 8.18 K/9 is still solid.  He’s giving up more line drives than ever despite his hard hit rate being as low as it’s ever been.  Now that doesn’t make much sense.  His BABIP of .372 is well above his career mark of .291, so I have to side with things normalizing positively for Gio soon.  Buy low.

Jimmy Paredes – 2 for 5, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 1 R, 2 K.  There may not be a bigger surprise this year than Jimmy P.  I hate the walk rate, but love everything else.  .346 AVG, 6 HR, 22 RBI, 18 R, 1 SB in 25 games.  The regression is coming, I won’t deny that.  But he’s been quite the find this season regardless.

Steve Pearce – 2 for 4, 1 RBI, 1 R.  Pearce’s AVG is finally over .200!  Unmatched pure power out of a second base eligible player if he can turn things around.

Nelson Cruz – 2 for 3, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K.  Harper had tied him for the Major League in HR for a hot minute, but Cruz wanted no part of it and blasted his 16th of the year.

Welington Castillo – The Cubs traded Castillo to the Mariners in exchange for relief pitcher Yoervis Medina.  Castillo will back up Mike Zunino, but the way Zunino has (not) been hitting, Castillo could begin to steal some starts away from him.

Taijuan Walker – 3.2 IP, 7 H, 4 ER, 4 BB, 3 K.  It’s just been a season to forget for Walker.  I wouldn’t give up on him, but I wouldn’t start him in any games except against the weakest of teams for now.

Kole Calhoun – 1 for 3, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 R, 1 BB.  Calhoun homered out of the cleanup spot and he could take a real liking to being that run producing bat in the Angels lineup.

Hector Santiago – 7 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 5 K with the W.  Santiago keeps on living dangerously with a high walk rate, but is finding ways to strand a lot of those guys.  The 2.25 ERA is shiny and pretty, but he’s a 3.50 ERA type of pitcher at best.  He gets a lot of fly balls so his .248 BABIP isn’t too low, but it still should rise and when it does he is not going to be stranding runners at an 87.0% clip for much longer.  Hope for the best if you own him, but prepare for the worst.

Josh Donaldson – 1 for 3, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 R.  I will say it again:  Donaldson crushes lefties.  He went Dong-aldson on Santiago.

Anibal Sanchez – 3.2 IP, 7 H, 7 ER, 2 BB, 2 K with the L.  I have never liked Anibal, but for some reason I end up using him a lot in DFS.  But every time I use him in DFS he gets rocked in what should be plus matchups, and then when I don’t use him he is amazing in tough matchups.  I hate him.

Ryan Braun – 2 for 5, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 1 R.  Braun is doing well and is on a good pace right now showing that he can still hit.

Adam Lind – 2 for 5, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R, 2 K.  Lind homered off a righty.  No surprise there because he does well versus righties.  Didn’t you know?  Platoon him.

Jimmy Nelson – 8 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 4 BB, 5 K with the W.  Except for Nelson’s first start of the year, ditto about Nelson what I said about Anibal.  I can’t figure this guy out from start to start.

A.J. Pollock – 1 for 1, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 R.  Pinch-hit HR for Pollock, which was the difference maker in the game.  He’s not going Michael Brantley on the baseball world, but he’s still enjoying a fine season and it should be a career year if he stays healthy.

Yasmany Tomas – 2 for 3, 1 R, 1 BB.  Do you realize that ever since I said that I am starting to like Tomas more and more due to his spray chart/ability to hit the ball to the opposite field that he has recorded three straight multi-hit games?  It’s true, I would not lie.

Enrique Burgos – 1 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K with the SV.  Burgos has now recorded saves in two straight games.  His save on Monday occurred in extra innings after Brad Ziegler and Addison Reed had already been used.  So there wasn’t too much to put behind that.  But manager Chip Hale went to the 24-year old flamethrower again on Tuesday.  He got into some trouble but carved his way out of it.  Looks like Burgos will be the guy for the Diamondbacks right now, but I personally do not like his chances of succeeding long term.  He has closing experience in the Minors and he is obvious strikeout upside, but he is also very wild with his pitches and I think eventually that is going to hurt him badly.  He reminds me of former Cubs closer Carlos Marmol.  Now marmol did close out games for a few seasons, but only one of those seasons I would classify as good.  Burgos can be adequate but I still would expect Reed to reclaim the role eventually.

Giancarlo Stanton – 1 for 4, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 R, 1 K.  Mike drop.  It didn’t clear the fence by much, but it was a towering shot.  I read that there has not been a HR this year as high and far as this one that Stanton hit.  He’s got 12 HR.

Michael Wacha – 7 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 5 K with the W.  He’s now 6-0 with a 2.13 ERA and 1.05 WHIP.  Stellar stats.  His strikeout rate sits at just 5.51 K/9, but it’s inching upwards.

Jake McGee – 1 IP, 1 H, 2 K.  Pitching in the 8th inning, McGee is showing that he is healthy without any rust.

Brad Boxberger – 1 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K with the SV.  Boxberger nailing down the save, keeping McGee at bay.

David Ortiz – 2 for 4, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 R, 1 BB.  We haven’t heard much from Papi this season, but he now has 3 mulit-hit games in a row with homers in the last 2.  A sign of things to come hopefully.

Koji Uehara – 1 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 K with the SV.  Uehara was on a streak of 7.2 IP of no-hit baseball, but the Rangers got to him a little bit on Tuesday.  Uehara still converted the save and is now 10 for 11 in save opportunities with a 2.08 ERA, 0.69 WHIP, and 15 K/2 BB in 13 IP.  He is a great closer and the WHIP king.  He has a 0.84 career WHIP in 363.1 IP.

Devin Mesoraco – 2 for 2, 1 BB.  Mesoraco was the DH in this one at Kansas City and had a perfect day at the dish.  He is making some progress with his injured hip as he did light work during some catcher drills, but he still seems a ways away from returning behind the plate, making him extremely frustrating to own.  I would know.

Yordano Ventura – 7 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6 K with the W.  Very nice game from Ventura to bring his ERA down to 4.56 and WHIP to 1.27.  Like I’ve said before, I am not a big Ventura fan especially with his velocity down a tick, but he is serviceable.

Wade Davis – 1 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K with the SV.  Davis logged his 7th save of the year with Greg Holland dealing with a stiff neck.  Davis needs to be owned everywhere as I have said in “Mr. Holland’s Opus Is Not Music to My Ears.”

Trevor Bauer – 7.1 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 7 K with the W.  Bauer power.  3-1, 3.31 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 51 K/22 BB in 49 IP.  I like him, but still need to see less walks.

Cody Allen – 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K with the SV.  Allen notched a 4-out save and I think that we can clear him from any job endangerment now with 4 hitless outings in a row.

Coco Crisp – 0 for 1, 1 SB, 1 BB.  I noted Crisp’s struggles in Monday’s notes and he still didn’t log a hit on Tuesday and he left the game with an injury to his neck.  Apparently, it is the same type of neck injury that he dealt with last year that caused him to miss a lot of time.  Sounds ominous.

Billy Burns – 2 for 3, 1 SB, 1 K.  Burns came on to replace Crisp and promptly showed what he can do and why he should have been receiving more playing time over Crisp anyway.  If Crisp hits the DL again, Burns will become the speedster of the week again.

Sonny Gray – 5 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 4 K with the L.  It was the first time all season that Gray failed to last 6 innings.  He’s done really well so far this season, but obviously his ERA isn’t going to stay below 2.00 forever.  He can settle in right around 3.00 though.

Luke Gregerson – 0.2 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 0 K.  Gregerson came in to the 9th in a non-save opportunity with a 4-run lead, but he got into some trouble and created a save opportunity for Pat Neshek to log the one-out save.  As I’ve said in the recent days, Gregerson hasn’t made things look pretty, but he’s gotten the job done adequately and saves are saves.  I have to believe that he is still the guy, but any further struggles like this and we could have a blow-pen situation and things could be turned over to Neshek.

John Axford – 1 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K with the SV.  It’s amazing how Axford fell into a closing position yet again.  He only had to have 3 guys ahead of him get injured or suck.  He is now 5 for 5 in save chances, but it could only be a matter of time before he gets removed as the closer (if the Rockies even have any viable arms left to replace him).

Maikel Franco – 3 for 4, 3 RBI, 1 R.  Big game for the rookie Franco, but I still won’t get excited about him.

Jorge Soler – 0 for 4, 2 K.  I documented Soler’s struggles recently and it was just more of the same on Tuesday.

Chris Coghlan – 2 for 4, 2 HR, 2 RBI, 2 R, 2 K.  Coghlan, the 2009 NL Rookie of the Year, is a nice role player for the Cubs, but he doesn’t do much for fantasy teams.  Deuces were wild for him on Tuesday though.

Carlos Frias – 6 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 3 K with the L.  Nothing spectacular from Frias but still showing that he is a decent option for the Dodgers rotation as they deal with injuries.  He could stick around for a while but the 2.55 ERA and 1.26 WHIP are going to rise.

Wil Myers – Myers hit the DL with a wrist injury, which is a shame for him and the Padres as he was having a nice season.  The Padres will try to replace his production with Will Venable mostly.

James Shields – 7 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 11 K.  Shields just keeps on racking up those K’s.  “I like this National League,” he says.  He didn’t really say that (that I know of), but I’m sure he is thinking it.  His strikeout rate is now through the roof at 12.20 K/9, but he is still being victimized by the long ball, otherwise that 3.76 ERA of his could be a full run lower.  Shields has given up a total of 14 HR in his 9 starts, and the odd thing is that half of those have come at home in Petco Park.  HR are being launched out of Petco this season by both the home and visiting teams without any clear cut explanation.  There are lots of theories, but nothing concrete.  So it’ll be interesting to see if this trend continues.  Nonetheless, expect Shields to remain one of the top NL pitchers of the year.

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4 thoughts on “U Can’t Touch This, Hammel Time! (and other notes from 5/19/15)

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