Julio the Speed Demon
Julio Rodriguez was 1-3 with 2 SB against the Rays. Rodriguez has struggled out of the gate. He is hitting .194 with 0 HR, 8 R, 6 RBI, and 8 SB. The power has not been there due to a more ground ball-heavy approach (46% GB and 5% Barrels). His strikeout rate is high (38% K) but he has been called out on strikes on pitches outside of the zone at a high rate. Google and/or search Twitter for this topic and you can see numerous graphs of umpires giving him the rookie treatment. This should normalize over time. He has shown the ability to hit the ball hard (54% Hardhit% and 112.9 mph maxEV). This coupled with his ability to steal bases will allow him to be the true five-category contributor we all expected. It is just going to take a little bit of time while he adjusts. The skills are there for him to be elite.
Freddy Peralta went 6 IP and gave up 0 ER on 3 H, 0 BB, and 7 K’s against the Pirates. Through four starts, Peralta has a 5.00 ERA and 1.33 WHIP. Those who drafted Peralta were concerned coming into this game. It was a small sample but Peralta set the bar very high with his dominant 2021 season. Looking underneath the hood reveals that Peralta had been hurt by a .387 BABIP and 58% LOB. However, it is not all bad luck because he had been having trouble throwing strikes (14% BB). Peralta is still missing bats (28% K and 13% SwStr) but really needs to reign in the control/command to turn this around quickly and that is exactly what he did in this one. The main culprit so far has been the slider which was the key to his success a year ago. He is throwing it less often (-6%) in favor of more curves and changes which indicates that maybe he doesn’t have a feel for the pitch just yet. This was a great bounce-back start for the right-hander.
Tarik Skubal went 5 IP and gave up 3 ER on 6 H, 2 BB, and 4 K’s against the Astros. Skubal has been excellent to start the year. He has a 3.05 ERA and 1.21 WHIP with 23% K:BB. There was a lot of hype surrounding Skubal coming into the year centered around his ability to miss bats. He continues to miss enough bats (25% K and 12% SwStr) and the real improvement has been his walk rate (2% BB). The improvement in his walk rate has come from a higher zone%. There is likely going to be regression considering his first-pitch strike percentage (52%) is not where it should be. Overall, Skubal has made a minor change in his pitch mix, fewer fastballs, and more offspeed, which has allowed him to do a better job of keeping hitters off-balance. Skubal has a strong start for a breakout season.
Jameson Taillon went 4.2 IP and gave up 2 ER on 7 H, 1 BB, and 4 K’s against the Orioles. Taillon has started the year strong with a 3.26 ERA and 1.24 WHIP. The core skills are strong (21% K and 2% BB) and so are his advanced ERA estimators (3.09 SIERA). Taillon has made another pitch mix change this year. He has gone back to throwing fewer fastballs and has added a cutter. He’s not throwing the cutter much (4.4%) but it gives hitters another pitch to think about. The fact that he is in the AL East is going to damper his overall value but Taillon is a good pitcher but is unlikely to reach the elite status that we have thought was possible in the past. The main reason is the average strikeout rate.
Austin Hays was 4-5 with 1 R and 1 RBI against the Yankees. Hays came into the game playing well over the past week (.273 AVG, 2 HR, 2 R, 7 RBI, and 179 wRC+). On the year, he is hitting .279 with 2 HR, 6 R, 9 RBI, and 0 SB. The production hasn’t quite been there but the plate skills have been good (10% BB and 20% K). He is hitting the ball hard (42% Hardhit) but just not at the right angles (4% Barrels). Hays is hitting too many fly balls (42% FB) which is hurting his batting average. A small tweak to more of a line drive focus will get Hays right back on track.
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