Vladimir Guerrero Jr. made his major league debut yesterday, and the flashy prospect did not disappoint. Guerrero went hitless in his first three at-bats, but his second and third trips to the plate resulted in hard hit fly balls, one of which was caught by a leaping outfielder at the wall. Vladdy finally got a hit in his last AB when he doubled down the first base line in the bottom of the ninth. He was lifted for a pinch-runner, but that pinch-runner became the winning run on Brandon Drury ’s walk-off home run.

Pitching Performance of the Day

After a disastrous 2018 season in which he posted a 5.54 ERA in only 102 innings, Marcus Stroman has had a great start to his 2019 season. He continued that strong start yesterday pitching seven scoreless innings against the A’s in which he only allowed three baserunners and struck out seven. His strikeout and walk rates were both the worst of his career last year, and while the walks have remained an issue, he has the strikeouts back.

His strikeout rate is at a career-high 23.8 percent, and it is backed up by the highest swinging strike rate of his career at 11.3 percent. He’s throwing a few more cutters at the expense of his sinker, and he has upped his slider usage. The drop in his sinker usage explains why his groundball rate has dropped from the elite sixty percent range to the still-well-above-average fifty percent range. But it may be worth it as he has a top-20 whiff-per-swing rate on his cutter. He also has a 41 percent whiff-per-swing rate on his slider, so it’s easy to see why his strikeout rate is up. If his pitch mix holds, we can expect the strikeouts to stick around.

Stroman is still available in a few leagues, likely due to owners still being scared off by his performance last season. While he’s not going to maintain a sub-2.00 ERA and some regression is coming, he should be able to keep his ERA in the threes with an above average strikeout rate.

Hitting Performance of the Day

There were three double dongs yesterday, and while Tyler Flowers may deserve this spot since he reached base in every plate appearance, we’re going with Nelson Cruz here. There’s not much to say about Flowers other than he’s off to a fluky hot start. Cruz homered twice and singled once yesterday and continues to be a reliable hitter well into his late thirties.

 Assuming Cruz gets to 400 plate appearances and doesn’t fall off a cliff later this season, this will be his 11th straight season with 400+ PA of being an above average hitter. He’s actually getting better with age as his three worst hitting seasons were all in 2012 or earlier. The last five seasons he has been more than 35 percent better than league average in each season. It’s a damn shame Cruz only had roughly 600 PA prior to his age 28 season otherwise we might be talking about a potential Hall of Fame candidate. But hey, he’s approaching Harold Baines’ career WAR total, so there’s always a chance he’ll be incorrectly admitted to the Hall.

Oh by the way, here are Cruz’s homers from last night. The first was an absolute bomb to left, and he went oppo on the second.

Game of the Day

The Tigers scored in each of the first six innings yesterday, and the White Sox found themselves down 10-4 after Detroit finished hitting in the top of the sixth. Chicago erased most of the deficit with a five-run bottom half, and the game was 10-9 going to the seventh. The Tigers finally failed to score in the seventh, and the Sox took the lead with two runs after the stretch. Detroit went back to scoring in the eighth with a solo home run by Ronny Rodríguez . The score remained 10-10 until there were two outs in the bottom of the ninth when Tim Anderson hit a walk-off home run followed by more of a Gronk-style spike than a bat flip.

Here’s the game graph courtesy of Fangraphs:

What to Watch for Today

Noah Syndergaard will start for the Mets today against the Brewers, and Thor has an ugly 5.90 ERA through five starts this season. That said, he unquestionably has some positive regression coming. His strikeout and walk rates are damn near identical to his career rates, and his velocity is just fine. He has mainly been a victim of bad luck with a 50.3 percent strand rate when the league average is 72.7 percent. His HR/FB rate is a bit elevated from his career mark, but it’s not as if his strand rate is high because he’s suddenly giving up a ton of gopher balls. Syndergaard’s 11.1 percent HR/FB rate is well below the league average of 14.8 percent. Thor will face the Brewers who have been exactly league average against right-handed pitching this season, so it is a good matchup at home for Syndergaard to begin the turnaround.