Overall, the five recommendations that I highlighted above all others in my Week 4 Matchup Report panned out about the way I had expected. Jerad Eickhoff and Neil Walker were my two strongest “sit” recommendations, and both had awful weeks. Only six percent of CBS owners and no more than one percent of ESPN and Yahoo owners started Scott Schebler in Week 4, but those who did start him were handsomely rewarded, as he was one of the top six outfielders in value.
My recommendation to start Dan Straily was not quite as rewarding, and if I could have foreseen the way that Ivan Nova was going to shut down the Marlins in that game, I probably would not have made it. Straily pitched reasonably well, but in getting outdueled and taking the loss, he wound up being less valuable than Tanner Roark and Matt Shoemaker — both pitchers whom I had recommended to sit.
The real blemish on last week’s recommendations was the call to keep Adrian Gonzalez in his owners’ lineups. The reasoning behind the recommendation was that Gonzalez had a schedule laden with flyball-heavy starters. Gonzalez’ production against extreme flyball pitchers had been steady over the preceding four years, and even when his overall numbers dipped in 2016, he posted an .878 OPS against flyballers that season.
The problem with the focus on Gonzalez’s long-term trends was that I did not place enough gravity on his current season. Going into Week 4, he had only two-extra base hits against flyball pitchers — both doubles — and those came on April 23, which was two days after publishing my Week 4 report. With 20/20 hindsight, we now know that Gonzalez has been dealing with the forearm tendinitis that bothered him in spring training. While those revelations did not come to light until after I made my recommendations, I could have done more dot-connecting.
It is never easy to balance analysis of long-term and short-term trends, but Gonzalez’s case is a good reminder of the importance of trying to weigh both sets of data when their messages conflict.
Here is the breakdown of how each of my five featured recommendations fared.
1. SIT Jerad Eickhoff: 0-1 record, 5 2/3 IP, 9 H (1 2B), 5 R, 3 BB, 3 K at LAD.
I had concerns about Eickhoff facing a lefty-heavy Dodger lineup in a venue that is conducive to lefty power. While he was able to keep Gonzalez and Yasmani Grandal in check, lefties Corey Seager, Andrew Toles and Cody Bellinger combined for four hits and three walks.
2. START Adrian Gonzalez: 5-24, 1 2B, 2 BB, 3 K, 2 RBI, 0 R.
Gonzalez had only five hits and one extra-base hit all week. Naturally, his double came off Giants reliever Cory Gearrin, he of the career 55 percent ground ball rate.
3. START Scott Schebler: 9-19, 4 HR, 2 2B, 2 BB, 5 K, 9 RBI, 5 R.
As I mentioned in the report, Schebler had an ideal schedule, filled with matchups against mediocre ground ball-leaning, right-handed starters that included a three-game set at Miller Park. Four of his six extra-base hits came against righties with strong ground ball tendencies.
4. SIT Neil Walker: 3-19, 1 2B, 1 BB, 3 K, 2 RBI, 2 R.
This may have looked like a no-brainer, as Walker was batting .200 when I published the report, but heading into Week 4, he had a decent .776 OPS over his most recent 11 games. I expected Walker to cool off because of facing Julio Teheran, Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Joe Ross, and he did go hitless against them. His only hits of the week came against R.A. Dickey (a double and a single) and Jim Johnson (a single). Given that Walker has gone 3-for-8 with a double so far in Week 5 goes to show how vulnerable he can be against tough righties (though one of his hits this week was a single off Teheran).
5. START Dan Straily: 0-1 record, 5 1/3 IP, 4 H (2 2B), 3 R, 3 BB, 5 K.
Straily came out on the wrong end of a duel with Nova and fell short of a quality start, but I was looking for him to avoid home runs and walks against the Pirates, and he came through on the former. As for the latter, the Pirates swung on only seven pitches outside the strike zone, but it’s hard to fault Straily’s control when he threw 63 of his 94 pitches for strikes.
Statistical credits: FanGraphs, Baseball-Reference, Brooks Baseball.
Photo credit: By TonyTheTiger (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.
Want to pick up the next Scott Schebler for Week 6? Subscribe to the Matchup Report! Partial-season subscriptions, including one-week deals, are now available.