The Smallest Sample Size 8/7/13: Lucrative Lagares

Mike Stobe

Juan Lagares had himself a game last night and the Mets were able to ride his coattails and secure a win. We really need to talk about the Braves and Tigers. Can anyone stop them? Also, another day, another bullpen implosion in Anaheim.

Sadly, the Dodgers' amazing win streak on the road came to an end last night. The box score says Clayton Kershaw just couldn't pull out a win but was that really the case? Two teams were shut out on Monday only to have explosive offensive outbursts Tuesday night. And one player in New York continues to remain red hot.

The Smallest Sample Size -- Game Results for 8/6/13

Photo credit: Getty Images

Cardinals 5, Dodgers 1

This game was a lot closer than the score suggests. The Dodgers and Cardinals were neck and neck until Brandon League melted down and allowed two homers and three earned runs in the eighth inning. He now sports the highest FIP of his career (5.35) after last night's disaster. That three-year, $22.5 million deal given out by the Dodgers last November looked like a mistake then, and is even worse now that League has recorded a miserable 10:9 Shutdown-to-Meltdown ratio in just over 40 innings. Carlos Marmol was never this bad!

Joe Kelly pitched well, facing 22 batters and only allowing eight of them to reach base over five and a third. Clayton Kershaw gave up a whopping two runs while allowing the same amount of baserunners over six innings (.030 WPA) but was handed a loss, even though it was League (-.128 WPA) who put the game out of reach. #killtheloss?

More on the Cardinals at: Viva El Birdos More on the Dodgers at: True Blue LA

White Sox 3, Yankees 2

He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named added the most win probability amongst the Yankees woeful lineup (5%) last night. Hiroki Kuroda hurled a quality start, allowing three runs on nine hits and a walk in seven innings, but was given the loss. Chris Sale struggled with his control throughout the game and the Yankees were only really able to take advantage in the first as Alfonso Soriano stole second and then proceeded to score on an extremely wild pitch. Sale only allowed nine of the 31 batters he faced to reach and struck out six in seven and a third (.35 WPA). Nate Jones and Addison Reed recorded Shutdowns in relief.

More on the White Sox at: South Side Sox More on the Yankees at: Pinstriped Bible

Twins 7, Royals 0

The Royals completely pounded the Twins and shut them out on Monday, but Minnesota turned the tables last night. James Shields just didn't have it. He was able to make it through six innings but gave up three dingers and seven runs amongst eight hits and two walks (.31 WPA). After Justin Morneau smashed a two-run shot in the first, the Twins had a 76.6% win expectancy.

Andrew Albers, making his major league debut, shut out an offense that walloped the Twins for 13 runs the night before. Only five of the 29 batters he faced reached base, two of which were in the ninth when he began to tire. It seemed Ron Gardenhire wanted to preserve the shutout and pulled the hook on the rookie despite his excellent performance throughout eight innings.

More on the Twins at: Twinkie Town More on the Royals at: Royals Review

Red Sox 15, Astros 10

Neither starter was effective in Houston. Jordan Lyles was chased after four and two-thirds as eight runs scored on nine hits and three walks (-.56 WPA). Brandon Workman wasn't much better as he allowed six earned runs via nine hits (two homers) and two walks but somehow was credited with a win (#killthewin).

The two teams that were both shut out on Monday -- the Twins and the Red Sox -- combined for 22 runs last night.

More on the Red Sox at: Over The Monster More on the Astros at: The Crawfish Boxes

Photo credit: USA TODAY Sports

Reds 3, Athletics 1

Dan Straily wasn't at his best yesterday, giving up two runs on six hits and a walk over four innings. Bob Melvin saw that his starter wasn't very effective and obviously didn't give him a long leash. Meanwhile, Mat Latos was dominant, pitching seven and one third shutout innings while only having seven of 30 batters reach. Toss in three strikeouts and Latos added 34% in win probability overall. Aroldis Chapman came into a low leverage situation (.40 pLI) and gave up a solo homer to Derek Norris (only .01 WPA) but still struck out three betters in an inning of work.

More on the Reds at: Red Reporter More on the Athletics at: Athletics Nation

Mets 3, Rockies 1

Juan Lagares can not and will not cool off. With a triple that scored two runs in the first and another clutch single that brought the winning run across home plate, Lagares easily provided the most win probability of all batters last night (.43 WPA). In fact, it could be argued that he singlehandedly put the team on his back and won the game for the Mets!

Jenrry Mejia, making his third start of the year, lasted only five and a third but struck out seven. Todd Helton reached on an Ike Davis error, pushing Wilin Rosario to third. Rosario was brought home by a Nolan Arenado sacrifice fly but the Mets still had the lead until Meija gave up a solo homerun to Charlie Blackmon. Meija was able to avoid being charged with one run but still gave up the lead which contributed to his -.18 WPA. Carlos Torres, back in the bullpen, contributed 30% to the Mets' win expectancy thanks to getting five consecutive batters out at an important time. Surprisingly, all three relievers (none of which were Bobby Parnell) that pitched for the Mets last night recorded Shutdowns!

Someone named Chad Bettis started for the Rockies and pitched decently, allowing two runs on five baserunners over five innings (-.04 WPA) but Wilton Lopez's Meltdown couldn't have come at a worse time (-.17 WPA).

More on the Mets at: Amazin' Avenue More on the Rockies at: Purple Row

Pirates 4, Marlins 3

Never have I realized how many walk-offs there are every week until I started writing these columns. Last night, it was Josh Harrison hitting a leadoff, pinch-hit homer off of Mike Dunn. Jeff Locke continued to slowly regress, allowing three runs on nine baserunners, but was able to keep the Pirates in the game throughout five and two thirds. Henderson Alvarez also gave up three runs but recorded a quality start by throwing seven innings and striking out six.

Chad Qualls couldn't get anyone out in the eighth. Dunn came in and was able to clean up his mess, only to give up a dinger to Harrison to start the ninth (-.01 WPA). Melting down and severely hurting the Marlins' chances of winning (-.28 WPA), Qualls could be blamed as the biggest contributor to the Miami's loss despite not giving up the game winning home run!

More on the Pirates at: Bucs Dugout More on the Marlins at: Fish Stripes

Tigers 5, Indians 1

Justin Masterson (-.29 WPA) seriously unravelled in fifth inning of yesterday's important interdivisional game between the Tigers and Indians. With a 1-0 lead, Masterson hit the leadoff batter, then allowed a single, run-scoring fielder's choice and run-scoring double, hit another batter after inducing a groundout and then served up a three-run dinger to Don Kelly. The Indians started the fifth with a 59.1% win expectancy. By the end of Masterson's fiasco, their odds of winning had plummeted to 10.9%. Meanwhile, Justin Verlander showed flashes of dominance by pitching eight innings and giving up one run on four hits while racking up seven strikeouts. The Tigers have won 10 in a row and are showing no signs of slowing down.

More on the Tigers at: Bless You Boys More on the Indians at: Let's Go Tribe

Phillies 9, Cubs 8

The Phillies scored nine runs last night and their enigmatic bullpen anchor almost made it not enough for a win. But seriously, look at this offensive juggernaut of a team! There's no way they should sell! In fact, they should be putting in claims for players on waivers and really make a run for the playoffs! Michael Young, for some reason, is still wearing a Phillies uniform. Delmon Young is still being weighed every month and winning bonuses for plate appearances. But at least the Phillies made one move last night by designating Laynce Nix for assignment. Yes, Nix (.212 wOBA in 136 PA throughout 2013) -- the player who was chosen over the non-tendered Nate Schierholtz (.358 wOBA in 342 PA) last fall. There seem to be so many performances that even the most casual of fans could estimate, yet the Phillies front office refuses to admit they've made a mistake only to cut bait after it's far too late.

At least Chase Utley is still exciting to watch. Posting an .846 wOBA in four plate appearances and contributing 34% of the Phillies' win probability, Utley seems to be catching a second wind in 2013 after questions surrounded his future as he dealt with his balky knees over the past couple years.

In terms of pitching, this was a competition of which starter could fall apart more severely. Edwin Jackson was starting to settle into a groove in the second half but the wheels fell off in yesterday's start. Seven runs crossed the plate in his five innings thanks to 10 hits and two walks (-.58 WPA). Kyle Kendrick wasn't much better, allowing four earned runs in six innings on six hits (two homers) for a -.23 WPA. Jonathan Papelbon is still losing velocity and it shows. Now regularly being booed by the Philly faithful in every appearance, Cinco-Ocho gave up two runs on four baserunners and almost sent this mess of a game into extra innings.

More on the Phillies at: The Good Phight More on the Cubs at: Bleed Cubbie Blue

Braves 2, Nationals 1

I could write this game summary in one simple sentence: the Braves cannot be stopped.

Evan Gattis was forced to bat leadoff due to Jason Heyward exiting in the first with a neck issue, but if it weren't for the janitor-turned-major-league slugger, the Braves may not have won. In the fifth, trailing 1-0, Gattis was able to deliver a clutch two-run single (.20 WPA) that changed the face of the game.

Julio Teheran threw six innings and only allowed one run on four hits and two walks (.22 WPA). The benches were cleared after Teheran hit Bryce Harper in the thigh but luckily no punches were thrown. Gio Gonzalez cruised through most his seven innings but gave up the aforementioned single to Gattis that proved to be all that Atlanta needed to win.

Luis Avilan came on in relief and made things interesting but was able to get out a jam that saw the bases loaded with two outs. From there, Jordan Walden (.13 WPA) and Craig Kimbrel (.18 WPA) combined to strikeout the final six batters of the game.

Winners of 12 in a row. I repeat, the Braves cannot be stopped.

More on the Braves at: Talking Chop More on the Nationals at: Federal Baseball

Photo credit: Getty Images

Diamondbacks 6, Rays 1

Isn't it odd that two once-successful pitchers who were always unusually good at leaving batters stranded on base have seriously regressed in identical ways in the same year? I'm talking about Matt Cain and Jeremy Hellickson, whose left-on-base percentages have dropped over 10%. Hellickson (-.23 WPA) allowed five runs in under five innings by allowing eight baserunners and only recording one strikeout. Wade Miley was much better, only allowing one run on five hits and two walks over seven innings.

Evan Longoria put the Rays in the lead with a solo homer in the fourth but it proved to be the only offense Tampa Bay could muster. Hellickson allowed a double and a three run homer in same inning to give the lead right back to Arizona.

More on the Diamondbacks at: AZ Snake Pit More on the Rays at: DRays Bay

Rangers 8, Angels 3

Another day, another bullpen implosion in Anaheim. Yu Darvish and Garrett Richards both gave up three runs but this game was lost, yet again, by the Angels' relievers. With the game tied 3-3 in the top of the eighth, Kevin Jepsen came into the game and allowed a single to Elvis Andrus, who promptly stole second and advanced to third on an Ian Kinsler groundout. Adrian Beltre then stepped to the plate and singled to right, bringing Andrus home to cross as the winning run. Andrus ended up scoring three times and knocked in an insurance run later in the game, donning the crown of the most valuable player of the Rangers' lineup last night (.274 WPA). On the other hand, Ernesto Frieri (-.069 WPA), Nick Maronde (-.078 WPA) and Jepsen (-.211 WPA) all recorded Meltdowns and were conceivably responsible for squandering Anaheim's chances of getting back into this game.

More on the Angels at: Halos Heaven More on the Rangers at: Lone Star Ball

Orioles 4, Padres 1

Chris Davis is stealing all the headlines in Baltimore, but let's not undermine how amazing Adam Jones has been in 2013. Despite walking at a career low clip (3.1%), Jones has still been able to post a 122 wRC+ and accumulate 3.0 fWAR in 480 plate appearances. Last night, he went four-for-four and provided 25% of the Orioles' win expectancy. This game was back and forth through the first six innings as the Padres had plenty of opportunities but couldn't seem to capitalize against Bud Norris. Norris allowed the one run in his six innings on five hits and two walks (.216 WPA). Edinson Volquez pitched a quality start with two earned runs over six innings but a poor showing from Tim Stauffer and a Luke Gregerson Meltdown extinguished any chances that San Diego may have had to get back into this game.

More on the Orioles at: Camden Chat More on the Padres at: Gaslamp ball

Blue Jays 7, Mariners 2

WATCH OUT. Josh Johnson is going to make a last minute sprint for the Cy Young. You heard it here first. Hurling five shutout innings, Johnson finally contributed a positive winning probability in a second half start for Toronto (.181 WPA). Jose Reyes smacked a homerun off of Felix Hernandez's first pitch of the game and from there, the Blue Jays were in complete control. King Felix clearly did not have his best stuff, allowing three earned runs on nine hits and three walks over five innings while digging his team too deep into a hole they couldn't get out of (-.306 WPA).

More on the Blue Jays at: Bluebird Banter More on the Mariners at: Lookout Landing

Brewers 3, Giants 1

Okay, I was wrong about Carlos Gomez. Really wrong. His power is real and he has quickly become one of the most entertaining players to watch in Major League Baseball. Last night, he only had one hit but it was a scorching homer off of Matt Cain in the second inning to put the Brewers on top. Milwaukee was in control from there on out until running into a little bit of trouble in seventh and eighth. Wily Peralta bounced back from two subpar outings and threw six and a third, allowing one run on seven baserunners and notching six strikeouts (.163 WPA). Matt Cain didn't pitch poorly as he pitched seven innings and only gave up four hits yet was saddled with the loss. (#killthewin, as always.)

More on the Brewers at: Brew Crew Ball More on the Giants at: McCovey Chronicles

. . .

All statistics courtesy of FanGraphs.

Mike Mulvenna is a writer at Beyond The Box Score. You can follow him on Twitter at @mkmulv.

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