Aaron Nola, SP (PHI)
After four really good outings, Nola took a step back on Monday, allowing three runs in three innings against Milwaukee. Nola walked three and gave up five hits, four of which went for extra bases. You'd like to think the short outing would mean a low pitch count, but Nola actually threw 84 pitches despite being pulled after three innings. His xFIP over the previous four starts was 3.31. On Monday, it was 7.82. He basically had no idea where his fastball was going and so he essentially abandoned it. In turn, he relied on his curveball, which he threw 42% on Monday. What's puzzling is the lack of effectiveness of that curveball, which for the last several years has been one of the best in the game. While it was much better over that recent four-game stretch, it was not good on Monday. Last year, when Nola's fastball command was off, his curveball was so good it almost didn't matter. This year his fastball AND curveball have showed inconsistencies.
Jean Segura, SS (PHI)
Segura extended his modest hitting streak to four games on Monday. He also stole a base and scored a run in the latter part of the game. Since coming off the injured list on April 27, Segura has been quiet. He's batting .271 over that stretch, and he only has one extra-base hit since May 5. Even more alarming, he's only had one walk since his return. 61 plate appearances, one walk. It's not that he's struggling with the strike zone. In fact, his contact rate is an excellent 90% and his swinging strike rate is only 5% over the last few weeks. He's seeing more pitches in the zone, but he's just not doing damage on them. Part of the problem is he's pulling the ball at a career high rate, which doesn't fit his profile. Segura is a veteran hitter with a solid track record. He should turn things around.
Robbie Ray, SP (ARI)
For the fourth straight game Ray failed to complete six innings, but for the fourth straight game Ray struck out at least six batters. This is who Robbie Ray is. He throws too many pitches (94 in five innings on Monday), but he mows guys down. He allowed six hits and two walks, resulting in two runs (one earned), dropping his ERA to 3.14 and his xFIP remains 3.77, which is exactly what it was last year. Ray's had moderate success with his curveball, but he's using it less and less. On Monday, he threw only one curveball the whole game. That reflects a downward trend since the season started (he threw his curveball 20.7% last season). Eliminating his curve essentially turns Ray into a fastball/slider pitcher. If the objective is to try to be more efficient and allow less walks, it's not really working as he's given out eight free passes in the last three games.
Francisco Cervelli, C (PIT)
After gathering three hits for the first time this season on Sunday, Cervelli produced another 0-fer on Monday, hitless in five at-bats with three strikeouts. The veteran catcher is particularly struggling against left-handed pitching, producing an unseemly 9 wRC+ (100 is league average) and a .045 ISO. Not that he's your go-to backstop against righties, but at this point it's hard to imagine why he's in the lineup over backup Elias Diaz, who had a 151 wRC+ against LHPs last year (he only has six plate appearances against southpaws this year). Cervelli has never really been a great option at catcher, but he's always gotten on base at a high clip. His career OBP is .359, but this year his OBP is .278. Even at a thin position, Cervelli is best left on the waiver wire.
Garrett Hampson, 2B (COL)
Hampson was given plenty of opportunities to maintain his position on the major league roster, but finally the Rockies deemed his ineffectiveness too much, as they are planning on sending the struggling infielder to AAA-Albuquerque. Hampson was up and down last year, and was unspectacular but not completely awful. This year he has been completely awful. He displayed almost no power as evidenced by his .075 ISO, and his 20.3% hard hit rate is dead last in the National League. At the very least he will finally be able to play every day in the minor leagues and could still get another opportunity this year with Colorado.
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