The Hangover: News And Notes (And A Helmet Sticker)

Jhoulys Chacin‘s struggles continue

The most often cited Chacin split is the home-road one, where he’s somehow posted a 0.67 home ERA this season and a 8.77 one on the road, and that doesn’t include last night’s clunker in New York. That Chacin split is explainable to a degree (Petco’s pitcher friendly, players perform better at home, etc.), but with that large a gap it’s mostly just a good helping of statistically noise. The more meaningful Chacin split is probably the lefty-right one (not that it’s bereft of noise), as he’s allowed .894 OPS against lefties this season, with six homers allowed, 10 walks, and 10 strikeouts in 99 plate appearances—and, again, that doesn’t include last night’s game.

If you watched Chacin’s 10-pitch battle with Michael Conforto (more on him in a second) to lead off yesterday’s game, it never felt like it was going to end well for Chacin. Conforto ultimately fouled off five straight pitches before taking a slider out to right field. Chacin will have to figure out how to not turn every lefty hitter into Bryce Harper (or Conforto) if he’s to turn things around this season.

Dinelson Lamet to debut Thursday

Calling up Lamet to face the light-hitting Mets in pitcher-friendly Citi Field might seem like a soft landing spot for a big-league debut, but Lamet will face at least a couple of challenges on Thursday night.

Conforto, the Mets leadoff hitter, could qualify as one of the most underrated hitters in the game (although he put himself in the spotlight last night). He’s slashing .333/.425/.713 on the young season, with 13 homers and eight doubles in 153 plate appearances. Conforto is also a proponent of left-on-right crime, clubbing righties to a .878 OPS over his three-year career. It should be noted that it took all three of those years and a Yoenis Cespedes injury for Conforto to get a regular gig with New York, which probably tells you more about the often dysfunctional Mets than it does about him.

The Mets No. 2 weapon currently is Jay Bruce, who has revitalized his career over the last two seasons, having already smacked 11 bombs with a 123 wRC+ this year. That wRC+ figure would mark the highest for Bruce since 2010. He’s also handled righties well over the course of his career, as a left-handed slugger is wont to do. First baseman Lucas Duda is also back off the disabled list for the Mets, and he fits a similar profile to Bruce, a lefty power bat who could feast on any mistake.

The Mets lineup hasn’t been great so far this year, as their 92 wRC+ vs. righties ranks 20th in the majors. Still, it feels like they’re better than the early numbers indicate, particularly against right handers (see: last night). Plus Lamet’s bread-and-butter isn’t getting lefty hitters out. While starting Lamet Thursday in New York doesn’t necessarily qualify as sending him to the proverbial wolves, it likely won’t be an easy outing.

Austin Hedges pitch framing tracker

Ever since I wrote about how lackluster Hedges’ early framing results were back in mid-April, Hedges has turned back into a framing god. On April 18, Hedges was worth -0.05 runs in 502 framing chances, and now, a month and a week later, he’s worth +4.4 runs in 2,109 chances. Doing some math here, that puts him at +4.9 runs in 1,607 framing chances since April 18, which is what we like to call Yasmani Grandal territory.

It would take a deeper dive to discover why Hedges is doing so much better (could be just numbers fluctuating, or a mechanical change, etc.), but it’s safe to say he’s a good framer again, and there’s a decent shot he’s one of the best in the league by the time the season’s over. I shouldn’t’ have doubted him, but I’m still taking partial credit for the abrupt turnaround, which has become something of a pattern around these parts.

Jose Valdez, Chase d’Arnaud, Carlos Asuaje quick hits

  • The Padres claimed Valdez off waivers from the Angels a few weeks back, and he made his big-league debut recently before being returned to the minors yesterday. Once something of a prospect, Valdez has good stuff but not much of an idea of what to do with it. The numbers, both in the majors and minors, say there’s not much here, but we’ll see if the Padres can turn him into anything useful.
  • d’Arnaud, claimed off waivers from the Red Sox, is squarely a utility/org guy. If the Padres turn him into something useful, they’ll start checking the Petco hallways for signs of witchcraft.
  • Asuaje was called up from Triple-A El Paso yesterday, where he was hitting just .222/.365/.319. The lack of power is concerning given the environment, but 23 walks to 24 strikeouts is encouraging. Asuaje still has the feel of a solid utility infielder, and we’ll see how he performs in a crowded infield with the big club.

The Helmet Sticker (Miguel Diaz)

In that weird-ass sport called football, high school and college coaches often give out helmet stickers to players for doing something good, like making a tough catch or picking up a block or giving some dude a concussion. Why don’t baseball teams give them out? I don’t know, but we’re giving them out here, in this new semi-regular Hangover feature.

The first helmet sticker goes to Miguel Diaz for getting Conforto out, the only pitcher to do so last night. In the sixth inning, after a six-pitch battle, Diaz got noted righty-masher Conforto to ground out to first on an 87 mph changeup. After an electric debut, Diaz has struggled since, but he retired all six batters he faced last night and has had some encouraging outings of late. The overall numbers look ugly, but he remains an interesting project.

And now he has a helmet sticker.

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