Devin the Red Devil (and other notes from 6/20/15)

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It would be remiss of me to not highlight what a marvelous performance Max Scherzer put on for the Nationals faithful on Saturday as the big time ace was nearly perfect, but ended up settling for the first no-hitter of his career.  Scherzer came within one pitch of getting the incredibly rare perfect game, but he plunked Jose Tabata on the elbow to spoil the perfect game and subsequently led to a rather anti-climactic completion of a no-hitter.  There will be much debate about whether or not Tabata leaned into the pitch to draw the bean ball, but from watching it I believe that he did try to move his arm away from the pitch instead of into the pitch.  The elbow was being brought down and in toward his body and just so happened to get clipped by the pitch.  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it, but it was still a brilliant effort by Max who continues to be a “Scher thing,” but I will refrain from using him as the headline material here since he was the headliner after his previous amazing start.

Instead, the headline here refers to Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco.  Mesoraco truly busted out last season to fulfill his post-hype sleeper status by hitting .273 with 25 HR, 80 RBI, 54 R, and 1 SB.  Much of the same was to be expected this season from the Mesoraco who just celebrated his 27th birthday.  But a week into the season, he began to have an injury issue that was labeled as a hip impingement.  Initially, he was labeled as “day-to-day” and was given some time to recover from the injury.  Though he was unable to get into his crouch behind the plate to catch a full game, the Reds kept him around on the active roster and sporadically used him as a pinch hitter.

The next thing we know, for weeks pass by and Mesoraco made all but 8 pinch-hit appearances with no starts.  That doesn’t exactly seem to be the most optimal usage of a roster spot on the 25-man roster and it was a wonder why the Reds didn’t just put him on the DL to begin with.  For season long fantasy owners of Mesoraco, it was just false hope that was being fed and also a waste of a fantasy roster spot as much as it was a real life roster spot.  At least if Mesoraco was put on the DL then fantasy owners who have DL eligible spots in their leagues could have slotted him there and picked up a replacement.

More time went on and Mesoraco DH’d when the Reds visited American League parks, but then finally on May 22, nearly six weeks after Mesoraco was first diagnosed with the injury, the Reds placed him on the DL and then put him through a rehab and hoped that his injury would subside with more time.  Then the Reds had the idea of trying him out in the outfield since he was still unable to play catcher, so this provided fantasy owners yet again with some hope to squeeze any sort of value out of him this season.  Unfortunately, this also turned out to be false hope.

Mesoraco was pulled off his rehab stint after looking pretty awful in the field and visibly still hobbled.  And on Saturday it was announced that Mesoraco would finally undergo season-ending surgery to repair the ailing hip.  So the whole ordeal ended up being almost a ten week process where he gave fantasy owners a whole 28 plate appearances for a .250 AVG, 0 HR, and 2 RBI.  Congratulations, Reds management — you have successfully jerked around the fantasy baseball community to ruin fantasy teams’ seasons all cross the globe.

Let’s see what else happened on Saturday…

Manny Machado – 3 for 4, 2 RBI, 2 R, 2 K.  Machado is on the verge of pushing his AVG over .300.  Man, he’s good.

Trevor May – 6 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 7 K.  I said a little bit ago that we needed to begin to consider May as a fantasy option and he continues to put up pretty decent lines.  He has a 4.03 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, and 65 K/15 BB in 73.2 IP.  Give him a chance, he’s got a nice matchup at Milwaukee next.

Bryce Harper – 2 for 4, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 R.  Harper returned to the lineup after being hit by a pitch on the knee a few days ago and he took Francisco Liriano deep.  It was his 23rd HR of the year and it’s nice to see him do good work against lefties as well as righties.

Adam Lind – 1 for 3, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K.  Lind at Coors Field facing a mediocre righty = HR.  With a .275 AVG, 10 HR, and 34 RBI, Lind has been fairly productive in his first season in the NL.

Charlie Blackmon – 2 for 4, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 R, 1 SB, 1 K.  Blackmon sure does like facing righties at home and he’s on his way to matching his impressive stats from last year.  Roll him out there anytime that he’s at home, but on the road versus lefties he can definitely be sat.

Jesse Hahn – 7.2 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 4 BB, 4 K with the W.  Hahn’s strikeouts are still mysteriously missing, but he’s still managing to pitch well without them with a 3.40 ERA and 1.15 WHIP.  He’s not a terrible option and he has that strikeout potential that he’s not tapping into so far this season.

Jered Weaver – 5.2 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 4 K with the L.  The Weaver beat down show rolls on.  I’ve been saying it all along and there doesn’t really seem to be much light at the end of the tunnel for Weaver this season or his future seasons.

Jason Heyward – 3 for 5, 2 RBI, 1 R.  After trudging along the first month and a half of the season, the J-Hey Kid is hitting .333 since May 25 to make his overall numbers look a lot more respectable with a .271 AVG, 6 HR, 22 RBI, 31 R, and 8 SB.  Things are looking up for Heyward with this hot streak, but his current walk rate is 5.7%, which is 5.0% below his career level, and he is drilling the ball into the ground at an incredibly high 58.3% to limit his HR potential.  He’s still talented enough to do better than this and has 20/20 potential.

Randal Grichuk – 3 for 5, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 3 R, 1 K.  Grichuk, a former Angels farmhand that came over to the Cardinals in the trade for David Freese, is a 23-year old outfielder that is beginning to show some signs of living up to his potential.  In the Minors, he had three 20 HR seasons in a row and showed the ability to steal double digit bases as well.  He’s never been a great hitter for AVG though, and with 37 K/4 BB in 124 plate appearances so far this season, we can see why his upside will be limited in AVG.  However, he’s seeing a lot of action with Matt Holliday on the shelf, and at the very least he makes for a cheap DFS option and is someone to definitely keep an eye on moving forward.

Mookie Betts – 2 for 4, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 R, 1 K.  Betts is finally getting hot this season riding an 8-game hitting streak with a .548 AVG during that span and he is now hitting .271 with 7 HR, 31 RBI, 30 R, and 11 SB.  He should continue to see his AVG rise and I still am optimistic that he will be a .300 hitter this season because his skills with the bat and ability to put the ball in play a lot are too great to keep him down for too long.  The window for buying low on him is closing.

Lorenzo Cain – 2 for 3, 1 R, 3 SB, 1 BB.  Cain swiped three bases on Saturday to bring his season total to 13. His career high was 28 set last year, so he is on pace to pass that and he is displaying solid numbers all around.

Derek Dietrich – 2 for 2, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 2 R, 1 BB.  Dietrich continues to fill in for the injured Martin Prado and he went double dong on Saturday.  I mentioned him last week as a guy that has some pop and a cheap DFS option, so there you have it.

Justin Nicolino – 7 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 2 K with the W.  I’m not sure what it is with pitchers who have mediocre numbers in the Minors making their MLB debuts, but it seems that more often than not they exceed expectations in their first game.  Maybe it has something to do with the lack of scouting reports on these pitchers, but whatever the reason, Nicolino of the Marlins is another pitcher to add to that list.  It wasn’t anything flashy but it sure as heck got the job done.  He is a soft-tossing lefty with excellent control but is missing the strikeout ability.  So without the strikeouts (just 5.17 K/9 in AAA this year), he’s not really someone to consider for fantasy purposes.

A.J. Pierzynski – 3 for 4, 3 R.  Pierzynski finished a HR shy of the cycle and is still a fairly productive hitting catcher at the age of 38.

Travis d’Arnaud – 2 for 3, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 R.  D’arnaud hit a HR before having to depart the game with an injury.  The severity of it is unknown, but he recently just returned from the DL and if he has to go back on it then that would be a major disappointment and yet another interruption to the breakout season that he is supposed to have.

Noah Syndergaard – 4 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 3 K.  Thor wasn’t sharp on Saturday, but his defense didn’t do him any favors either.  He’ll experience some growing pains in his rookie season, but he is definitely one of the most talented rookie pitchers in the game.  His .349 BABIP and 66.8% strand rates are both indicative of some misfortune, so we can try to ignore is 4.03 ERA.  His 3.09 SIERA and 3.10 xFIP are more telling of his true talent level.

Erasmo Ramirez – 3 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K.  Ramirez who has been on a roll since joining the Rays and someone who I cautiously recommended last week, was rolling again on Saturday against the Indians before he had to exit the game with a groin injury.  If it ends up being a serious injury that will cost Ramirez a lot of time, it would be another big blow to a Rays pitching staff that has already lost Alex Cobb and Drew Smyly for the season, and also have Matt Moore and Jake Odorizzi on the DL.  With a whole rotation’s worth of injured pitchers, it is nothing short of amazing that the Rays currently sit atop the AL East.

Corey Kluber – 7 IP, 4 H, 4 ER, 4 BB, 6 K with the L.  Kluber ran into some trouble right away on Saturday, but did settle down after the first 2 innings.  He’s now turned in 4 unimpressive outings in a row after that stretch where he was unhittable.  He still should have more better days ahead of him though as his SIERA and xFIP are barely higher than his marks from his Cy Young season last year.  The 3-9 win-loss record is very deceptive.

Alex Rodriguez – 2 for 3, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 2 R, 1 BB.  A-Rod went yard once again and also added 5 RBI to push him up to 14 HR and 40 RBI for the season.  His magical resurgence continues.

Carlos Beltran – 2 for 3, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 2 R, 1 BB.  Not to be outdone by his teammate A-Rod, Beltran hit 2 out on Saturday and is now hitting .252 with 7 HR and 29 RBI.  He’s definitely in the twilight of his career at age 38, so not a whole lot should be expected of him.  Just mark this one down as one good game.

Alfredo Simon – 2.2 IP, 8 H, 7 ER, 3 BB, 2 K with the L.  Finally a true Alfredo Simon blow up game!  I’ve been waiting quite a while for this to happen as he is just not that great of a pitcher.  The poor game pushed his ERA to 3.29 and WHIP to 1.26 and as I have mentioned before, I expect him to finish the season with an ERA closer to 4.00 and WHIP closer to 1.30.

Joc Pederson – 1 for 2, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R, 2 BB, 1 K.  Yung Joc slugged his 18th HR of the season on Saturday.  For all the buzz that he has created for himself this season, he still is just 2 for 7 in SB attempts.  This is a guy that stole at least 26 bases in each season in the Minors from 2011-14, so his low total and inefficiency on the base paths is surprising.  We can’t complain too much though with the type of performance he’s giving with the bat.

Carlos Frias – 5.1 IP, 5 H, 6 ER, 1 BB, 2 K with the L.  Frias now has a 4.68 ERA and 1.47 WHIP after a beating served up the Giants on Friday.  I’ve been saying that he isn’t longed for the rotation and it should be just a matter of time before he gets the boot.

Nelson Cruz – 1 for 3, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K.  Cruz has been rather quiet of late, but he broke a 20 game homerless streak on Saturday.  His cooling down with the bat has had a huge negative impact on the Mariners offense as a whole, but if he can get going again then all the hitters around him should feed of it and see an extra boost.  Cruz’ season stats still look excellent with a .315 AVG, 19 HR, 43 RBI, 36 R, and 1 SB.

Taijuan Walker – 6.1 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 11 K.  Walker continued his turnaround by whiffing a career high 11 batters on Saturday, and it’s no surprise that it came against the strikeout prone Astros.  Over his last 5 starts, Walker has a 2.04 ERA, 0.85 WHIP, and 38 K/3 BB in 35.1 IP.  The man is figuring things out and his season stats of a 4.94 ERA and 1.39 WHIP are all a mirage now.  He gets a decent matchup against the Angels next.

Carson Smith – 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K with the SV.  Smith logged the 4-out save on Saturday and that makes it 5 straight saves for Smith, and he appears to be running away with the closing gig in Seattle.  I recommended him for weeks before he took over the role, so hopefully you were able to grab him.

Tyson Ross – 9 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 9 K with the W.  Apparently Tyson took exception to my post the other day where I said that his younger brother Joe was the “biggest Ross that we’ve seen thus far.”  He now is the owner of a 3.61 ERA and a 1.47 WHIP that doesn’t really matchup, but I still am not fond of Tyson for the remainder of the season.  He has been unlucky with a .352 BABIP, but as I have stated before, he doesn’t have the greatest of defenses behind him so the high BABIP isn’t as unlucky as it might seem.

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