Reasons not to give up on Matt Harvey highlight this week’s Week That Was.

Matt Harvey :  Well, another week, another weak outing from Matt Harvey – 4.3 IP, four hits, four earned runs, one walk and four strikeouts.  On the year, Harvey has a hideously ugly 9.64 ERA.  (yes, you did read that correctly and yes, the language is borrowed from Belle’s father’s description of the beast in Beauty and the Beast but I digress).  Why then am I highlighting the pitcher formerly known as the Dark Knight?  Well, I think there is value there and this week’s two-step (home to Yankees and then at KC) could be the week that value shows through. First, his velocity has held at 94 from last year.  Second, the advanced metrics look pretty darn good – 44% groundball rate, 12% swinging strike rate and a 65% first pitch strike rate.  Third, Harvey has been VERY unlucky to the tune of a strand rate under 50 and a BABIP of .361.  Fourth, his xFIP is actually less than half of his bloated ERA.  Fifth, his HR/FB rate is a swollen 25% and is likely to regress substantially.  Finally, he is actually giving up less contact than a year ago.  If you liked Harvey to start the year, stay the course.  If you didn’t give Harvey a second thought before reading this column, consider the numbers above and the fact that the Yankees often struggle in the first game of a west coast trip – the game Harvey starts on Monday. 

Jordan Lyles : Jordan Lyles was on his game Friday tossing six innings of shutout ball, walking one and striking out six.  It would likely have been even better had he not been hit with a comebacker (but have no fear, it appears he will make his next start).  On the year, Lyles has now tossed 17 innings giving up only one earned run (yes only one) while striking out 18 over those 17 innings.  Can this continue?  Well, he will not have an ERA under 1.00 but I do think the success (as compared to the low cost) will continue. Lyles is giving up very little hard contact (under 30%) and few line drives (under 13%).  Plus, as I said last week with Joe Musgrove , one must account for the Searage factor (i.e, the great pitching coach Ray Searage).  Do not break the bank but do not leave him on the wire.

Paul DeJong : Paul DeJong had another strong game Saturday going 2-for-5 with two runs and a RBI, bringing his batting average to .329 and his OBP to .396 (with 19 runs and 12 RBI) through that Saturday game.  No, I do not think Paul will hit .329.  Indeed, he hit only .241 last year.  However, he was hurt in the first half of the year (hit by pitch) and really did not return to form until the second half (when he knocked in 49 runs).  Indeed, there are many signs that the days of hitting under .250 are long gone including the year-to-year rising line drive and hard hit rates (hard hit rate is over 50% thus far), year-to-year reduction in chase rate, and the large reduction in infield flies (which as you know are basically automatic outs).  I am very in!

Cole Tucker:  Cole Tucker made his presence felt right away in Pittsburgh going 1-for-3 with his first career home run.  With Erik González on the IL, the shortstop job is Tucker’s and this author doubts he will give it up.  Tucker has been raking in the minors, posting an OPS of close to 1,000 in the early going.  However, that is not where the major roto value is to be found.  It is in his wheels – wheels he rode to 82 swipes over the last two years.  More good news?  Ok, Tucker has always made good contact and knows how to take a walk – two attributes that will help him make the most of those wheels.  Hopefully by the time this article is posted, team Colton & the Wolfman will own a number of Tucker shares from our FAAB bids. 

Hunter Dozier :  Last week we wrote: “Hunter Dozier went 2-3 and a run scored on Saturday.  Productive, but hardly a line that jumps off the page.  So why is he featured here?  Good question.  Answer:  I think he is a bargain on which loyal readers can pounce.  His year-long stats through Saturday are ok: .256 with 3 dingers and 6 RBI.  However, from Sunday to Saturday, Dozier hit .346.  Now that is a sit up and take notice number.  What can we expect going forward?  First, the .242 BABIP says the average will continue to increase from .256.  Second, the 40+% hard hit rate further supports point number one.  Third, the vastly increased contact rate and substantially decreased chase rate also bode well.  Finally, he is walking more and striking out less than a year ago.  Add in the fact that you have multi-positional eligibility and a team that will let him ride out slumps and you have a potential bargain on your hands.” I hope you listened as Hunter was on target this week going 8-22 with three dingers.  If somehow the window is not closed yet, sneak through!

Finally, the moment you have been waiting for (sort of) -- Schultz says: “Less than one month ago, roto-pundits and savvy roto-practitioners metaphorically salivated over the potential permutations of the Brewers' starting rotation. (Frankly, some were likely literally salivating). Having come one game away from reaching the World Series, the smart money to be played was on Milwaukee replacing overproducing veterans like Gio González , Wade Miley and Jhoulys Chacín with the young arms that carried much of the freight in the post-season. Josh Hader may be the once and future ace but, for now, he's the anchor of the dreaded "bullpen by committee."

Sadly, the smart money that was played on Brandon Woodruff , Corbin Burnes and Freddy Peralta may be have been a payment for fool's gold.  Despite his 5.23 ERA and 1.40 WHIP, Woodruff is the ace of the trio simply by having two healthy arms and a rotation spot. After giving up nearly a dozen home runs in just four starts, the Brewers sent Burnes and his 10.70 ERA, 2.15 WHIP back to the minors to relearn keeping the ball inside the park. Meanwhile, Peralta has exhibited brief signs of dominance in between periods of extreme mediocrity before taking his 7.13 ERA and 1.53 WHIP to the disabled list (er . . . injured list).

In Milwaukee's ideal world, Woodruff, Burnes, Peralta and Hader form a rotation that rivals the Indians' in its sheer unhittability. The potential is still there but anyone expecting immediate returns on their investment in 2019 should start looking for stopgaps.”

Response: Well, I mostly agree, but have to point out that Woodruff has been very unlucky.  On the year, he does sport that ugly 5.23 ERA but his FIP is just 3.00 because, among other things, his BABIP is a bloated .382.  In Schultz’s defense, Woodruff is giving up hard shots at an over 50% clip and that is never good.  Bottom line – take a wait and see approach.