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10 Burning Questions: Jordan Montgomery, Paul Goldschmidt, Ronald Acuna (Fantasy Baseball)

10 Burning Questions: Jordan Montgomery, Paul Goldschmidt, Ronald Acuna (Fantasy Baseball)

In the last week, we had arguably the most notable pitching fantasy baseball prospect debut of the past decade. We also came incredibly close to the second no-hitter of the season before J.D. Martinez intervened with a ninth-inning home run.

This week’s fantasy baseball burning questions focus on hitters off to slow starts in at least one facet of their game and whether or not we should be concerned. Read on for 10 fantasy baseball burning questions.

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10 Burning Fantasy Baseball Questions

Will Paul Skenes have an innings limit?

Paul Skenes made his major league debut this past weekend. He gave up three earned runs over four innings with seven strikeouts. That is performing admirably with all the pressure that was placed on him.

Those four innings brought Skenes’ season total to 31 innings. His 122-inning workload at LSU doesn’t do justice to how many pitches he threw. Thirteen of his 19 starts went 100 pitches and five of those starts were over 115 pitches. While the Pirates will be cautious with him, he has already shown he can handle an extensive workload. Expect 100 more innings during the remainder of the season.

Where are Jordan Montgomery‘s strikeouts?

It was a late start for Jordan Montgomery after his late signing so we have only seen 23 innings out of him. He’s had three quality starts and one blowup outing which has bumped his ERA to 4.7. Regardless of the outcomes, one thing has been clear: Montgomery isn’t getting strikeouts early.

His current strikeout-to-walk ratio is 10 strikeouts to six walks. The walk rate aligns with his career average, but the strikeouts are not. While Montgomery has never been a massive strikeout pitcher, it’s never been this poor of a level. He is striking out only 3.9 batters per nine innings, the lowest rate of any pitcher with over 20 innings pitched. It’s a small sample, but the whiff rates on his curveball and changeup have dropped substantially.

Should we be worried that Paul Goldschmidt is past his prime?

We have seen Paul Goldschmidt have poor starts to his season and rebound to his usual form. In 2018, while still a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks, Goldschmidt at the beginning of June was hitting .209 with seven home runs and 19 RBI. He still finished that season with 33 home runs, 83 RBI and a .290 average. Fantasy baseball managers are hoping for a similar rebound.

Of course, Goldschmidt is now 36 years old. He has three home runs, 13 RBI and is batting a meager .197. In May, he has three hits in 37 at-bats. It should be noted that all three hits came this past weekend against the Brewers, so perhaps he is starting to turn it around. For a complete turnaround, he will have to lower his strikeout rate. His previous career high was just over 25%. This season he is striking out nearly 32% of the time.

Is Ronald Acuna going to start hitting for power soon?

Ronald Acuna was nearly unanimously the first choice overall in fantasy baseball drafts. Coming off a season where he hit 41 home runs and stole 73 bases, it certainly made sense. So far, though, he only has three home runs. Should we be worried about a power outage from Acuna this season?

Some data points help explain why his power is lagging early. He has a career-high groundball percentage (51.5%) and a career-low flyball percentage (17.5%). That has caused his barrel percentage to drop to a career-low 9%. That being said, Acuna has proven to be too talented a player not to improve going forward. It’s likely not to rebound to the 40-home run range, but more than likely above 25.

What is the upside of Christopher Morel?

One player who deserved more hype during fantasy draft season was Christopher Morel. Last season, Morel had 26 home runs and six stolen bases in only 388 at-bats. He is off to another strong start this season.

Morel already has nine home runs and four stolen bases. His average is only .228, a career low. However, there are encouraging signs that his average should rebound. He has hit .235 and .247 in his first two seasons, even with strikeout rates over 30%. This season, he is only striking out 21.8% of the time. His average is only pulled down by a .235 batting average on balls in play (BABIP). When that corrects, there is the potential of a 30-home run, 10-stolen base, and .250 season from Morel.

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Is Jason Foley still the closer in Detroit?

Managers who added Jason Foley early in free agency couldn’t have been happier with the start they got. On April 23rd, Foley had seven saves already with a 0.00 ERA. But the walks were adding up, then they started catching up with him.

Foley picked up a couple more saves at the end of April. He also allowed a few runs, and then the last save attempt for the Tigers went to Alex Lange. You may remember that Lange was the presumed closer going into this season. While Foley was pitching well, so was Lange. Foley now has a 2.35 ERA and Lange has a 3.07 ERA. This is heading toward a committee. Both will maintain some usable value, but both will be capped from their best outcome.

Was last season an outlier for Yandy Diaz?

Yandy Diaz won the American League batting title last season with his .330 average. He also hit 22 home runs which helped him finish in the top 10 of the American League MVP voting and win his first Silver Slugger award. He has regressed mightily though this season.

Diaz currently has a .250/.313/.356 slash line. Those are all career lows. He has always been a batter that struggles with elevating the ball. Even last season, he still grounded out 52% of the time. This season, that number is 58%, one of baseball’s three highest totals. The average should rebound some, but the home runs from last season aren’t returning. Getting 15 home runs would be a plus at this point.

What is the bullpen situation in Baltimore?

The Baltimore Orioles have the best record in the American League. They’ve won 26 games and only lost 13. One recent weakness has been struggles from closer Craig Kimbrel, which may have led to a change at the back of the bullpen.

In Kimbrel’s five appearances between April 26th and May 8th, he pitched 2.1 innings with a 23 ERA. During that span, he officially blew two saves but also had to be bailed out in another appearance by Yennier Cano. Cano has now earned the last two saves for the Orioles. It may be a blip on the radar and Kimbrel gets the next opportunity. What is certain is that both relievers need to be rostered in all leagues.

What is the reason for Logan Webb‘s struggles?

Logan Webb was a popular early-round selection by fantasy drafters as a perceived ‘safe’ pitching option. A pitcher who limits walks and gets groundballs is usually a recipe for success. He is still getting groundballs at the second-highest rate in all of baseball. While the strikeouts have dipped slightly, his current rates are in line with his 2021 and 2022 seasons, where he posted an ERA near 3.00.

His biggest strength to this point has been his WHIP. If you combine his last three seasons, his WHIP would be 1.11. To this point this season, his WHIP is 1.39. Part of that can be attributed to a .347 BABIP against, but not all. When he has gotten hit, it’s been hard contact against him. His hard contact rate is over 50%, the worst rate among starting pitchers. You have to expect that to regress and his WHIP to drop simultaneously.

Is Jackson Chourio a part-time player?

Christian Yelich returned from the injured list last week. It’s good to have him healthy, but it creates a logjam in the Brewers’ outfield with Yelich, Sal Frelick, Jake Bauers, Blake Perkins and Jackson Chourio all competing for playing time. Considering he started just once since Yelich returned, Chourio is seemingly on the outside looking in.

In his first try at the Major Leagues, Chourio has shown the power and speed combination that has everyone excited. He has hit four home runs and stolen six bases. He has struggled to hit recently, though. His last home run and RBI came on April 20th. Since that game, he has hit just .184. After receiving a big contract in the offseason, it seemed unlikely Chourio would spend any time at Triple-A this season. However, if he isn’t playing every day that may be best for his development.

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