Matthew Pouliot

Strike Zone

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Notes: Pick Up Peralta?

Wednesday, May 16, 2018


13 strikeouts make for a nice major league debut. In fact, Freddy Peralta was just the fifth pitcher ever to fan so many batters in his first start, joining Karl Spooner (15 in 1954), J.R. Richard (15 in 1971), Stephen Strasburg (14 in 2010) and Cliff Melton (13 in 1937). Peralta got there by throwing his 91-95 mph fastball 90 percent of the time against the Rockies. He does have a pretty good slider, too, though he hardly needed it Sunday, and he never broke out his changeup in the victory.

 

What was obvious in the debut was that the Rockies struggled mightily to pick up his fastball. Peralta has an old-school, arms-behind-the-head delivery, but his release is conventional enough and I’m not sure why the Rockies were so often taking late cuts at 93-mph pitches or simply letting them go by. I want to see him do it again versus another team or two before giving him credit for having some exceptional deception in his delivery.

 

For now, my guess is that Peralta falls somewhat short of being a mixed-league starter this year. Control has always been an issue for him, as he walked a batter every other innings between high-A and Double-A last year and Triple-A this year. Leaning on high fastballs should get him strikeouts, but hitters will also occasionally connect and hit those out of the park, especially if he can’t establish the changeup and give opponents something offspeed to think about. He’s a talented prospect and I’m intrigued to the point that I want to make sure I catch his next couple of starts. But I’m not dropping someone useful for him right now.

 

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American League notes

 

- Robinson Cano received an 80-game PED ban Tuesday, which will give his broken hand some extra time to mend. He won’t be back until mid-August, so he can be dropped in most mixed leagues. The Mariners’ failure to invest anything in their bench over the winter was already hurting them and the lack of depth will hit much harder now with Cano absent. Moving Dee Gordon back to second base is an option; he was above average there and metrics have him performing badly in center field thus far. On the other hand, it’s not like the Mariners have a plethora of outfield options, either. So, Andrew Romine and Gordon Beckham will apparently play second for now, which is essentially giving up a lineup spot. Taylor Motter is probably better than both, but since he’s been ice cold in Triple-A, he’ll be left there until he starts to hit. Signing Brandon Phillips would make sense, but he’d almost certainly need a few weeks in the minors. Since Cano is now off the payroll, freeing up almost $12 million, the Mariners have the financial flexibility to take on a Starlin Castro or Josh Harrison. Alternatively, they could also put that money towards outfield or pitching help.

 

- Ben Gamel is the Mariners’ outfield problem. He surprised by hitting .348/.405/.489 in 221 at-bats through the end of June last year. However, he came in at .219/.255/.354 in 288 at-bats over the rest of the season, and he’s at just .182/.274/.255 in 55 at-bats since returning from an oblique strain this year. He never projected as a quality regular in the first place, and the Mariners should be looking to do better in left. The team did add some late insurance in the form of Jayson Werth, but Werth is hitting just .188/.253/.319 in 69 at-bats in Triple-A. Andre Ethier and Seth Smith would have made better additions when Werth was signed and are still available now, though Ethier might be drifting into retirement. A trade could be a solution here (Adam Duvall or Scott Schebler? Jon Jay? Hunter Renfroe?), preferably sooner rather than later.

 

- After 17 games on a rehab assignment in which probably two or three were called for, Brandon Drury was sent down by the Yankees on Monday. He lost his job due to migraines. At this point, it’s hard to say whether that’s the right call for the Yankees; Miguel Andujar has shown an ability to hit for average and power, but he’s also walked three times in 135 plate appearance and his defense has been mediocre. Both versions of WAR pegged him at 0.0 going into Tuesday’s action. Drury is no All-Star himself, but there’s a good argument that he’s a better player than Andujar right now. However, the Yankees might just want to play Neil Walker (or Gleyber Torres) at third base after Greg Bird comes off the DL in 7-14 days.

 

- Clint Frazier, who opened the year on the DL with a concussion, earned a callup Tuesday by crushing it to the tune of a .362/.423/.702 line in 47 at-bats in Triple-A. It could be a short stint, though. Aaron Hicks isn’t off to a great start, but he has an advantage over Frazier defensively and there’s just no reason for the Yankees to make a change at this point. There’s no reason to grab Frazier this time around.

 

- The Angels rode Keynan Middleton hard right away this year, having him throw 14 innings in the team’s first 23 games (he also warmed up in at least one game in which he went unused). He complained of a sore elbow and went on the DL, but he went just 10 days between appearances and as soon as he was deemed ready resume pitching, he was used four times in a six-day span. Now he’s on the shelf again with a much more significant elbow injury, and Tommy John could be a possibility. A reliever the Angels could ill-afford to lose might be gone for good, quite possibly because the team just couldn’t help itself.

 

With Middleton back on the DL, Justin Anderson picked up his first save on Monday. He was trusted with the one-run lead despite giving up three runs in a blown save on May 5 and three more runs in a loss on May 11. Anderson has been a great surprise; I didn’t even give him a projection this year after he finished with a 5.06 ERA and a 36/29 K/BB ratio in 58 2/3 innings as a Double-A reliever last year. He started off this season with 14 strikeouts in 8 2/3 scoreless innings in the minors and he’s kept whiffing batters in the majors, fanning 15 in 10 1/3 innings. He throws 96-99 mph, and while his slider doesn’t have great movement, it’s slow enough to really mess with a hitter’s timing. He’s the Angels’ best closing option if he throws strikes. However, I’d also like to own some Blake Parker shares; his velocity has come back up and he’s pitched 6 1/3 scoreless innings with nine strikeouts in his last six appearances.

 

- The Tigers didn’t get as much as they should have for J.D. Martinez last summer, but the top prospect from the trade with the Diamondbacks, infielder Dawel Lugo, briefly joined the team after Jeimer Candelario went on the DL with a wrist injury. Very briefly, that is, since he was sent Tuesday night without having gotten a start. Lugo, 23, was hitting .284/.287/.369 with one homer and one walk in 143 plate appearances for Triple-A Toledo. He hit .277/.321/.424 for two Double-A team last year. Lugo mostly played third base last year after moving from short, but since the Tigers have Candelario there, they’ve been trying to develop him at second. Lugo’s bat would play better at second, too, since he doesn’t possess a whole lot of power, at least not at the moment. He does have the bat speed to improve there. The lack of Triple-A production says he’s not ready for the majors now, and the Tigers obviously agree, since they’re going with Pete Kozma over him.

 

- Far more interesting for fantasy purposes is Christin Stewart, who is up to .304/.378/.648 with 11 homers in 125 at-bats for Triple-A Toledo. He’s challenged defensively in left field and he’s probably going to wind up as a long-term DH, but the Tigers will need to make room for him soon. They’ll probably try him in left initially, but he could be Victor Martinez’s replacement next year.

 

- Adrian Beltre returned to the disabled list on Tuesday, again because of his left hammy, but there was still no recall of Willie Calhoun from Triple-A. Calhoun has started to warm up in Triple-A, hitting .340/.365/.440 in May after a disappointing April, and with Joey Gallo able to play third or first in addition to left, there’s plenty of room for Calhoun in the Rangers lineup. Ronald Guzman is still hitting just .205/.256/.370 after 73 at-bats. If Calhoun can put together another good week, maybe a switch comes.

 

- The Astros finally sent down Jake Marisnick late Tuesday, though they didn’t announce a corresponding move. It could be J.D. Davis, who has definitely earned a shot by hitting .420/.474/.630 in 119 at-bats since getting sent down to Triple-A. If that’s the case, Evan Gattis owners should be nervous; Davis would have a strong case for taking over as the primary DH. He’d be one to consider in mixed leagues.

 


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Matthew Pouliot is the Executive Editor of RotoWorld.com and has been doing the site's baseball projections for the last 10 years. Follow him on Twitter @matthewpouliot.
Email :Matthew Pouliot



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