Written by: Ray Butler
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- One of my bold predictions for the 2019 MLB season: Julio Urias and Matt Strahm finish with nearly identical numbers. Both are really good. Here’s the synopsis of the prediction:
You’re likely well-aware that @Prospects365 often doubles as a Julio Urias fan account, and it’s pretty surreal that the southpaw actually made a full recovery from brutal shoulder surgery and is ready to make an impact in the big leagues once again. Strahm’s long-term outlook has been quite the enigma for awhile as well, but a strong spring (in which he proved durability as a starter) has landed him in the Padres’ Opening Day rotation. Both are going to be impact arms in 2019, and we’ll look back at how similar their final regular season numbers are. I’m thinking 120 IP, 130 K, 3.5 BB/9, 3.75 ERA apiece.
The duo has been far from perfect throughout the first month of the regular season; Urias has struggled at times with his command, and Strahm hasn’t missed the abundance of bats he was expected to miss. Despite this, the southpaws have still posted impressive (albeit dissimilar) statlines thru their first few outings:
Urias: 19.2 IP, 14 H, 8 ER, 7 BB, 22 K. 3.66 ERA, .240 BABIP, 26.5 K%
Strahm: 20.2 IP, 19 H, 7 ER, 5 BB, 13 K. 3.05 ERA, .266 BABIP, 15.3 K%
With Clayton Kershaw, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Rich Hill having returned (or due to return), Urias—after making four starts—has been moved to the bullpen in Los Angeles. He’ll serve as a multi-inning, left-handed fireman in the hopeful mold of Josh Hader; the transition will also help limit Urias’s workload while retaining his value in the fantasy world. SPARPs can help you win fantasy championships.
Strahm’s best outing of the season happened Friday, when he struck out five and allowed only one run in 8 IP versus the Reds. I don’t think it’s a coincidence the left-hander found this success while throwing his fastball far less than in any other outing so far this season. See the difference?
We should see more-of-the-same from Strahm moving forward. As long as we do, the strikeouts and innings pitched should continue to become more linear. You can check out my other bold predictions for the 2019 season here.
- Marcus Semien is so freakin’ underrated. The 28-year-old was once viewed as a laughing stock amongst middle infielders thanks to 35 errors in 2015. Instead of falling off the face of the earth, Semien has basically improved his defensive metrics every season since. His work and refinement culminated last season when he was named a finalist for a Gold Glove. From a fantasy standpoint, Semien had a 232 ADP in the month leading up to Opening Day, but the early returns resemble that of an elite player. The shortstop has nearly walked as many times as he’s struck out (11 walks and 12 strikeouts in 102 plate appearances). No doubt boosted by what would be a full season career-high .342 BABIP, Semien has slashed .322/.392/.500 with 3 home runs and 19 runs scored in 24 games. He’s also batting second in the Athletics’ lineup, directly in front of Matt Chapman and Khris Davis (and, soon, Matt Olson). The outlook here looks dandy. A .350 OBP/100 R/15-18 HR/10 SB campaign feels within reach, which would give him a season-long wRC+ in the 120-125 range. If he’s still available in your league, you should be sprinting to the waiver wire to make that add.
- If you haven’t done so already, you should really grab a Prospects 365 t-shirt. A small portion of proceeds will be donated to 4MOM, and it’s a fantastic way to support a site that works tirelessly to enhance your baseball and fantasy baseball experience. All purchases come with free shipping. Snag yours today!
- These two, recent Matt Chapman-related tweets aroused me greatly:
Largest K% drops among hitters with 40+ PA this season and 400+ PA over the past two seasons:
Matt Chapman: -14.5 pp
Mike Zunino: -12.5 pp
Mike Trout: -12.1 pp
Cody Bellinger: -11.8 pp
J.D. Martinez: -11.8 pp
Alex Gordon: -11.1 pp
Yoan Moncada: -9.3 pp
Cesar Hernandez: -9.2 pp
— Devan Fink (@DevanFink) April 20, 2019
Since the beginning of last year:
703 PA, .280/.357/.518, 83 extra base hits, 65 walks, 4.1 defensive WAR
745 PA, .277/.352/.519, 82 extra base hits, 70 walks, 2.5 defensive WAR
— Jeremy Frank (@MLBRandomStats) April 20, 2019
Chapman was the topic of one of my bold predictions for the 2019 season, and I’m also a proud rosterer of the the third baseman after acquiring him in my home league in a mind-blowing, blockbuster trade this offseason. Projection systems weren’t overly in love with the 25-year-old heading into 2019 thanks to perceived luck in the batted balls arena last season. Instead, Chapman has found a way to outperform his projections thanks to a new approach that’s led to a drastic cut in strikeouts and increase in contact (the defense, as always, has been elite too).
As the @MLBRandomStats tweet above suggests, it’s time to include Matt Chapman when we discuss baseball’s superstars. Because that’s what he is.
- Wanting to get more from your Twitter experience in the baseball world? I outlined how to do that here, including more than 100 valuable accounts I consider must-follows during baseball season. If you spend a lot of time on Twitter, this is a must-read article.
- Am I crazy to think Dan Vogelbach might become a reincarnation of ‘mid-2010s Carlos Santana’? Here’s the latter’s full season numbers since 2013 for reference:
In a lot of ways, Vogelbach and Santana fit the same archetype: they’re low AVG/high OBP players with good plate discipline. Where the latter was capable of stealing a handful of bases in season’s past, the former probably possesses more raw power (and thru 214 plate appearances at the big league level, Vogelbach has shown a greater propensity to strikeout). A .240/.350/.480 player is plenty valuable (especially in OBP formats, which are objectively better than AVG formats), and I believe that’s the direction we’re heading with the 26-year-old. Just remember: as a big leaguer, Vogelbach has batted .100 versus left-handed pitching (36 wRC+ and 37.1 K% in 30 plate appearances), so there’s platoon risk here. There’s also risk Vogelbach enters the 2020 season as a Utility-only player; in his 18 games played so far this season, he’s yet to start a game at anything other than designated hitter. The 26-year-old won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but he can still be a valuable asset on your fantasy team moving forward.
- Don’t look now, but Alex Reyes has transitioned back into the starting rotation for Triple-A Memphis. His first start? 3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 K. I think he’ll be back in St. Louis this summer, ready to take the ball as a starter every five days. True talent always finds a way to make an impact, even when an organization doesn’t handle/prepare said talent the correct way. Dakota Hudson and Adam Wainwright are not long-term (read: season long) solutions in the Cardinals rotation. St. Louis does have low-end arms like Austin Gomber and John Gant who have ‘admirable fill-in’ potential, but Reyes and Carlos Martinez could be the difference in the Cardinals making a surprise playoff run and missing the playoffs altogether for the fourth consecutive season for the first time since the early-90s. We’ve seen flashes of brilliance from the 24-year-old from time-to-time at the big league level, but the inability to stay healthy and fleeting command hasn’t led to sustained consistency. Yet. And while he’s already surrendered his prospect eligibility, Reyes ranked 21st in my top-200 prospect list published before Opening Day.
- Make sure you’ve checked out last week’s Ramblings. I dove deep on Yordan Alvarez, Nate Pearson, Ronny Mauricio, Gavin Lux, Dylan Carlson and Kevin Gowdy. Alvarez has probably been the hottest hitters in the minor leagues early this season. Check it out here.
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