Grayson Rodriguez (SP-BAL) was demoted to Triple-A Norfolk on Saturday, one day after the Rangers lit him up (3.1 IP, 8 ER, 6 H, 3 BB, 6 K). The 23 year-old righty showed some good, bad, and ugly during his first 10 big-league starts, logging a 7.35 ERA, 11.1 K/9, 4.2 BB/9, and 3.90 xFIP across 45.1 IP. The gap between the ERA and xFIP can be attributed to a .364 BABIP, 67% strand rate, and 27% HR/FB, as Rodriguez surrendered tons of hard contact (52% per Statcast) while putting too many hitters on base. Despite the nice strikeout rate, he recorded only an average swinging-strike rate (11%). Control and command were major culprits in his downfall, as Rodriguez frequently missed his spots within the zone as well as often struggled to find the zone at all. And when he did, opposing hitters teed off on him. He's just 23 and the talent is there, but further seasoning in the minors may be needed after he logged only 15 starts in Triple-A before getting the call.
Brandon Pfaadt (SP-ARI) was sent back to Triple-A Reno on Saturday after he endured another rough outing on Friday evening against Boston (3.2 IP, 5 ER, 8 H, 0 BB, 4 K). The 24 year-old righty enjoyed a couple of solid outings as a major leaguer, but will head back to the minors after just 5 starts in which he recorded an 8.37 ERA, 6.9 K/9, 3 BB/9, and 5.42 xFIP over 23.2 IP. A 61% strand rate and 21% HR/FB contributed to the gap between the ERA and xFIP, and it was not simply poor luck as opposing hitters made loud contact at a 49% clip against him per Statcast. He induced relatively few swinging strikes (just under 10%) and got hitters to chase at a below-average 26% rate. Pfaadt possesses both better control and strikeout ability than he showed in the majors, so perhaps additional work in Triple-A (where he's made a total of 15 starts) will prepare him to succeed the next time he gets the call to Arizona.
Pablo Lopez (SP-MIN) was meh in an outing in which he defeated the Twins on Saturday, allowing 4 runs on 5 hits and 3 walks while fanning 6 over 5.2 IP. The 27 year-old righty tossed 54 of his 88 offerings for strikes in the contest while surrendering a pair of big flies. Although his 4.11 ERA through his first 11 starts of the campaign (65.2 IP) might not impress, Lopez has logged a career-high 11.1 K/9 to go with his usual solid control (2.7 BB/9), and his 3.72 xFIP does indicate that a 14% HR/FB might be inflating his ERA a little (although his career HR/FB is 13%). Interestingly, Lopez has added a full tick to his average fastball velocity (up to 95 mph) and has added an 84-mph slider (22% usage) to his repertoire (while abandoning the 90-mph cutter that he deployed the past three seasons), which might help to account to some degree for the career-best 15% swinging-strike rate. He should have little trouble in his next outing, which is scheduled for next week at home against Cleveland.
Willy Adames (SS-MIL) was placed on the 7-day concussion IL on Saturday after he was hit in the head by a foul ball while in the dugout during Friday's contest. The 27 year-old fortunately avoided fractures and so he'll be sidelined until he's cleared of concussion-related symptoms. Adames is in the midst of an underwhelming campaign as he's hitting just .205 with 9 homers, 27 RBI, 23 runs scored, and 4 steals across 214 PA. Although his strikeout rate is on pace to be a career-low at just under 26%, Adames has made hard contact at a below career-average 33% rate per Statcast (39% career) while chasing a bit more often (34% in 2023, 31% career) and making about the same amount of contact as usual when doing so (57% in 2023 and career). We'll see if he can make some adjustments after he returns that would allow him to make hard contact at a rate closer to the 43-45% he did the last two seasons.
Jordan Montgomery (SP-STL) should be a solid option for DFS or streaming on Sunday against Cleveland. The 30 year-old southpaw hasn't been as ineffective across his 55.1 IP to date, as his 4.55 ERA would suggest, as his 4.03 xFIP points to a .331 BABIP in particular (.293 career) inflating his ERA a bit. A 8.5 K/9 is about career average for him, as is his 2.6 BB/9. Opposing hitters haven't made a ton of hard contact against him (35%), and their contact rate against him remains slightly below average (77%). Although there's a lot about Montgomery that screams "mediocre" (such as a 10% swinging-strike rate), his opponent is the draw here, as the Guardians rank second-to-last in baseball in team OPS against lefties with a paltry .634 mark.
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