Jake Arrieta's breakout season continues, two games last beyond the 13th inning, plus more from a wild Tuesday and what to watch today.
The Tuesday Takeaway Jake Arrieta entered Tuesday coming off a trio of superb outings over which he allowed just one run and 10 hits with a shiny 27-to-2 K:BB ratio in 20 innings of work. The 28-year-old right-hander continued his breakout campaign by flirting with perfection and twirling seven outstanding innings against the Reds.
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On a per-game basis, Sale has arguably been the best starting pitcher in baseball this season, but it was Scherzer who stole the show with a complete-game shutout to bust himself out of a string of shaky starts. The reigning American League Cy Young Award winner had been knocked around in his previous four outings, serving up at least eights hits, a home run, and four runs in each of them.
Tracking changes in opposing pitchers' approaches to Yasiel Puig, Jose Abreu, and George Springer.
Recently, Yasiel Puig had his one-year MLB anniversary (Puigiversary?), which caused much uproar and a deluge of odes to his ability, presumably along with a handful of curmudgeonly rants about his bat flips. Despite the seeming overabundance of press attention given to Puig, that attention is well-deserved. In his first full year, he’s become among the best players in baseball.
Almost everything there is to write about Puig’s innate ability and penchant for guffaw-inducing bloopers has already been written, and in any case, I’m already late to the Puigiversary party. I want to focus on another aspect of Puig’s performance, namely the way the league has approached him, with the hope that we can learn something about how pitchers approach young players in general. I’ve written at length about how the manner in which pitchers target hitters can inform us about those hitters. In some cases, we can forecast changes in hitter ability by observing the league’s approach to each hitter and whether it varies over the course of a season.
The Sox end a streak, Bckett throws a no-no, and Springer explodes, plus much more from the weekend and what to watch today.
The Memorial Day Weekend Takeaway
If you’re going to compile a 10-game losing streak, you’ll need to find some innovative ways to give away games. Like, say, batting around and scoring five runs in the first inning against David Price, then getting shut out for 14 offensive frames before going down with a series of defensive misadventures:
In shallow formats, potential alone isn't enough for a player to warrant a roster spot.
If you do something for long enough, you start to get complacent. As a fantasy baseball “expert,” for me this complacency came in the form of assuming that there are certain, self-evident truths that “everyone” who plays fantasy baseball simply knows and need no further discussion. However, the reality is that based on some of the questions I receive, this clearly isn’t the case.
One of the biggest misconceptions out there is something that I call The Upside Fallacy. Typically, the concept rears its head when I recommend a boring, stable, yet productive veteran over a rookie or second-year player. The younger player typically has a path to playing time, so to some it seems like the better play is to choose the player with the high ceiling over the player with a more narrow range of options.
And why the Astros would have been silly to promote George Springer sooner.
If you stretch, maybe you could come up with a good baseball reason for the Astros not to have called up outfield prospect George Springer until earlier this week. And yes, GM Jeff Luhnow probably did need to stick with baseball reasons in his public explanations of the delayed promotion: Springer needed some more at-bats to work on cutting down his strikeouts, or the team wanted to see whether Robbie Grossman could start this season as strong as he finished the last one, etc.
You understand why Luhnow can’t say the real reason, but at some point, you wish that we could let a smart guy be a smart guy and tell you that by waiting two weeks, he was able to exchange a minimal amount of Springer in a bad season for a full year of Springer in what could be a good season. That would be the 2020 season, which is now part of the Astros’ control period on Springer as he won’t have a full six served after 2019. (Read more of the details in this Evan Drellich piece at the Houston Chronicle.)
The Situation: Underperformance in the Astros’ outfield and the passing of enough days to guarantee that coveted seventh year of team control has opened the door for the promotion of the organization’s no. 2 prospect on Jason Parks’ 2014 team rankings and the 20th-ranked prospect overall on Parks’ 2014 Top 101. The powers that be in Houston are ready to show off to the franchise’s patient fan base another young piece of what they hope will become the foundation for future competitive Astros teams.
Background: Springer, a University of Connecticut product, was selected in the first round (11th overall) of the 2011 draft. Considered perhaps the toolsiest player in an absolutely stacked draft class, Springer was a divisive collegiate player for evaluators due to the nature of his aggressive approach and the amount of swing-and-miss in his game. Even with a troubling start to his junior season, Houston was not dissuaded and jumped on the opportunity to add his potential plus power/speed talent as the cornerstone of their rebuilding process.
Notes on prospects who stood out yesterday, including Dodgers outfielder Joc Pederson and Marlins lefty Andrew Heaney.
Hitter of the Night: Joc Pederson, OF, Dodgers (Albuquerque, AAA): 4-4, 2 R, 2B, 2 HR, BB.
This is the kind of power production the Dodgers are going to need from Pederson if/when he shifts to a corner outfield position, though barring injuries, that won’t be happening in L.A. any time soon. Pederson looks like he’s close to being ready to help a major-league team right now, which could make him among the most sought-after prospects this July.
Pitcher of the Night: Andrew Heaney, LHP, Marlins (Jacksonville, AA): 6 IP, H, 0 R, BB, 5 K.
The Marlins are still searching for a minor-league level that will provide Heaney with a challenge, but it doesn’t look thus far like they’ve found it in the Southern League. He could continue to move quickly, even by Marlins standards.
Notes on prospects who stood out yesterday, including Astros outfielder George Springer and Royals lefty Sean Manaea.
Hitter of the Night: George Springer, OF, Astros (Oklahoma City, AAA): 2-3, R, HR
There’s not much left for me to say about Springer, who is clearly ready for a big-league challenge, but I’m going to continue to include him in the MLU when he does well to point out the absurdity of a system that encourages a team to keep an obviously superior player in the minors while putting an inferior major-league product on the field.
Pitcher of the Night: Sean Manaea, LHP, Royals (Wilmington, A+): 5 IP, 4 H, 0 R, BB, 5 K.
Manaea sat between 90-92 with his fastball on Monday and hit 95, and he missed bats with his slider. He’s still learning to be consistent with his stuff and how to use all of it, but his power arm is one that can’t be taught. (H/t to @CJWittJr for the velos).
Notes on prospects who stood out yesterday, including Rangers third baseman Joey Gallo and Marlins lefty Andrew Heaney.
Hitter of the Night: Joey Gallo, 3B, Rangers (Myrtle Beach, A+): 4-4, 4 R, 2B, 2 HR.
Gallo features the best raw power in the minor leagues, and it translated into game power on Thursday night in a big way. It’s hard enough to hit a ball out of Wilmington’s Frawley Stadium, but Gallo managed to put one of his over the scoreboard in left-center field.
Pitcher of the Night: Andrew Heaney, LHP, Marlins (Jacksonville, AA): 6 IP, 4 H, 0 R, BB, 8 K.
Heaney was expected to be on the fast track this season if he got off to a hot start, and that’s exactly what he’s done. With two plus pitches (fastball, slider), he’d probably be able to hold his own in the majors right now, but if his changeup catches up with the rest of his stuff, he’ll fit in as a solid no. 2 behind Jose Fernandez.
Javier Baez gets the nod atop the first edition of this year's list.
Welcome back to my focal column here at Baseball Prospectus, The Stash List. I know, you’ve missed it. But for the 2014 season, we’re starting right from Week 1 with a first look at who you should be spending valuable reserve slots on in your league. For those of you not familiar with this column and the types of players who are included/excluded from it, I will now throw it out to past Bret to explain from April of 2013:
The purpose of it is to rank the top 25 players who are not active contributors to fantasy teams for 2013 only. Again, it does not take into account future value, which would result in a very different order. This list will include four different types of players, with specific restrictions attached: