Archive for Mining the News

Mining the News (11/21/22)

American League

Red Sox

Garrett Whitlock pitched through a hip injury for some of last season.

In nine starts, Whitlock posted a 4.15 ERA and 23.1 percent strikeout rate as he adjusted midseason to the new role. But the hip injury flared up in early June and sidelined him for more than a month. When he returned, the team limited his innings by using him again in the bullpen, but it was clear Whitlock was pitching through pain, despite a 3.34 ERA and holding opponents to a .196 average over 18 appearances. He had season-ending surgery on Sept. 26.

Read the rest of this entry »


Mining the News (11/14/22)

Yukihito Taguchi-USA TODAY Sports

• Masataka Yoshida should be posted in the next week or two.

• Teams are interested in Seth Lugo as a starter.

Right-hander Seth Lugo reached free agency for the first time in his career last week and has already drawn plenty of early interest as teams begin charting their offseason gameplan. Will Sammon of The Athletic reports that more than a dozen teams — but not the Mets, yet — have reached out to Lugo. That shouldn’t be surprising for a consistently solid setup man, but what’s more interesting is Sammon’s note that some of those clubs have expressed interest in putting Lugo back into a rotation.

For his career, Lugo has a 4.35 ERA, 8.0 K/9, and 1.34 WHIP as a starter. Last season, the 32-year-old threw four different pitches. Read the rest of this entry »


Mining the News (11/9/22)

American League

Astros

• Martín Maldonado played with a broken hand for over a month.

Here’s what makes it more impressive: Maldonado has been playing with a broken bone in his right hand since the Orioles’ Joey Krehbiel hit him with a pitch on Aug. 28. He said after the Astros’ 4-1 elimination of the Phillies that he also will undergo surgery to repair a sports hernia next week.

Up until the injury, he hit a .591 OPS. From then on, it was a .642 OPS. He really can’t hit. Read the rest of this entry »


Mining the News (11/1/22)

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Free Agents

Matt Harvey is going to try to come back … again.

Right-hander Matt Harvey underwent knee surgery last month, agent Scott Boras tells Joel Sherman of the New York Post. It isn’t clear whether the procedure is expected to affect his readiness for Spring Training, but Boras tells Sherman that Harvey plans to attempt to make it back to the majors next year.

American League

Guardians

• There is a decent chance Josh Naylor ends up in a platoon.

The same could be true of Naylor. He clubbed 20 home runs and doesn’t turn 26 until June. His production could be hurt by a future platoon role, but could he get to 25 home runs next season? It doesn’t seem unrealistic, particularly since only one of his home runs came against a lefty.

He has a career .512 OPS against lefties and a .856 OPS against righties. Read the rest of this entry »


Mining the News (10/26/22)

Kodai Senga and Shintaro Fujinami, both from Japan, are likely to sign with a major league club this offseason.

Right-hander Kodai Senga is planning to trigger the opt-out in his contract with the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks and become a free agent, according to a report from Sankei Sports (Japanese language link). Senga and the club agreed to a five-year extension back in December, though that contract contained an opt-out clause after the first season. Senga will be a free agent and won’t be subject to the MLB-NPB posting system. It was reported in August that Senga planned to pursue MLB opportunities this winter and it now seems he will follow through on those plans.

and

The Hanshin Tigers of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball are going to make right-hander Shintaro Fujinami available to MLB clubs this offseason via the posting system, according to a report from Kyodo News. Back in September, reports from Japan (Japanese link from Sponichi Annex and English link from The Japan Times) relayed his desire to attempt the move to North America. It now seems that the club will grant him his wish.

Here are the ZiPS projections for both.

ZiPS Projections for Senga & Pujinami
Name Age G GS IP ERA WHIP K/9 BB/9
Kodai Senga 30 22 22 140 3.54 1.18 10.7 3.5
Shintaro Fujinami 29 24 12 96 3.70 1.33 10.4 4.2

Senga is definitely the more interesting of the two.

• I’ve continued to update the hitters who played through an injury list. Read the rest of this entry »


Mining the News (10/19/22)

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

American League

Mariners

Cal Raleigh played through a torn ligament in his hand.

It didn’t seem to bother him much with September being his best month (.959 OPS). Read the rest of this entry »


Mining the News (10/13/22)

American League

Angels

• The Angels plan on being aggressive with player promotions.

Minasian hasn’t been shy about putting draftees immediately in Double A or about calling players up to the big leagues from Double A. He said that’s a product both of his philosophy and of needs in the organization.

“I believe that it’s with good intentions and we do it with the right people,” Minasian said.

At this point in my offseason analysis, I’m not sure who might get an early call but I know to keep my eyes open.

Athletics

Ramón Laureano plans on being healthier and stronger to start next season.

Even in his most productive past seasons, Laureano said he felt injuries limited him from reaching his true potential. After he finishes his rehab this offseason, Laureano will strive for preparing his body to withstand his goal of playing a full 162-game season.

“I haven’t really been lifting that many weights the past couple of years,” Laureano said. “Everybody says that less is more, but I think I need to go hard. That’s a key right there. I think, baseball-wise, I want to be more fast-twitch. Also clean up some stuff in the cage with my hitting.

Orioles

Jake Cave has signed with the Orioles.

The Orioles have claimed outfielder Jake Cave off waivers from the Twins, according to the MLB.com transactions tracker. Baltimore is designating reliever Jake Reed for assignment in a corresponding move. Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com confirms the news (Twitter link).

Cave could end up being on the strong side of a platoon with career .744 OPS against righties and .592 OPS against lefties.

Red Sox

• The team is going to target “top caliber” relievers.

As part of the win-now messaging, Bloom admitted the club will be in the market for top-caliber pitchers in the bullpen and rotation, a shift from previous offseasons when he shopped on the periphery of the market for pitching help.

“Because of some of the depth on the pitching side, we’re going to be considering a little bit different set of possibilities,” he said.

For those in draft-and-hold leagues, this news probably means the next closer isn’t on the team especially since Matt Strahm is a free agent.

• Since Eric Hosmer will be easy to trade and the improving Triston Casas will likely be the team’s first baseman next season

While Cora and the Red Sox like first baseman Eric Hosmer, he is also a lefty hitter like Casas, and it seems most likely they will trade him for another piece of the roster. Given that they owe him the major league minimum salary with the Padres taking on a majority of $44 million left on his deal, the Red Sox have a chance to flip him for little cost.

Bloom added that he didn’t know if there was room on the roster for two left-handed hitting first basemen, and praised Casas’ debut, noting that his patient approach at the plate didn’t degrade as he handled big league pitching.

“When we got Hos, we were focused on what he could bring to us right now and not wanting to rush Triston,” Bloom said. “Sometimes the results were there (for Casas). Sometimes they weren’t. He was a tough at-bat every single time which is going to be one of his calling cards as he goes forward. So that’s all really encouraging. It’s something we’re going to have to look at. Couldn’t be happier with how he progressed the last couple of months of the season.”

Tigers

Spencer Turnbull should be ready for the start of next season.

RHP Spencer Turnbull: Hello, old friend. Turnbull had surgery in 2021, not long after he threw a no-hitter and was getting on the radar of the entire league. Turnbull’s rehab from Tommy John surgery has been slow, but he has a 3.46 ERA over his past 20 MLB starts. If he’s in a good place next spring, he could return to a front-end spot in the rotation.

• It will be tough to know if and/or when Tarik Skubal will return next season.

It still isn’t clear when Skubal can expect to a return to a big league mound, but he recently updated Evan Petzold of the Detroit Free-Press on his status. The southpaw tells Petzold he’s currently building arm strength in physical therapy and has a follow-up meeting with his surgeon, Dr. Neal ElAttrache, in December. Skubal indicated he hopes he’ll be able to begin a throwing program by January if all goes well. While he declined to specify any sort of timeline for game action, he confirmed he’s likely to pitch at some point during the 2023 season.

It seems questionable whether he’ll be ready for Opening Day, however. That’s hardly a surprise, as flexor repairs are a notable procedure in their own right. Former Tiger southpaw Matthew Boyd underwent a flexor repair last September; he didn’t return from the injured list until 11 months later. Danny Duffy had the procedure in October 2021 and has missed the entire 2022 season after suffering a setback in August. That’s not to say Skubal is certain to face the same recovery timetable, but it’s illustrative of the fact that rehabbing from these procedures is no simple matter.

Matt Manning is getting a second opinion on his forearm injury.

The third, Matt Manning, was scratched from his final start of the season with what the club called a forearm strain. Manager A.J. Hinch downplayed the issue at the time, saying the team shut him down out of an abundance of caution. However, Petzold now reports that Manning is soon to head for a second opinion with Dr. Keith Meister.

To be clear, there’s no indication that Manning is facing surgery at this point. Doctors may just be keeping a close eye on the highly-touted 24-year-old. Still, Petzold writes it’s possible Manning won’t be healthy for Opening Day (although that by no means appears certain yet).

Uh … why? Is his elbow messed up?

White Sox

Michael Kopech’s knee might have bothered him after June 12th.

Michael Kopech slamming a baseball into the infield grass in frustration as he walked off the mound on June 12, favoring a sore right knee, provided a clear line of demarcation for his first full season in the starting rotation. That separation was only made more stark by the 26-year-old undergoing surgery on a torn right meniscus in the final week of the season. While the procedure isn’t expected to significantly alter Kopech’s offseason, there’s plenty of indicators of how his right knee affected his 2022 season.

After his start on the 12th, he had a 1.92 ERA, 8.9 K/9, 4.2 BB/9, and a 95.7 average fastball velocity. After that point a 4.79 ERA, 7.2 K/9, 4.4 BB/9, and a 94.5 mph average fastball velocity.

Davis Martin has done enough to be considered for the rotation.

Davis Martin’s season ended with bicep soreness as his 140 1/3 total innings neared a professional career-high, and with a 4.83 ERA due to a trainwreck outing in the season finale. Since he still has minor league options, he would be an ideal fit for the always-necessary role of sixth starter who remains available in Charlotte when needed. But Martin did all he could to ensure he will be in Chicago for much of the 2023 season.

“He’s done everything to put himself in a position as a future starter,” said Katz. “He has outstanding weapons too.”

Eloy Jiménez is in line to be the DH next season to help his knees.

So let’s look at Eloy Jiménez, who figured out a routine for success at designated hitter despite having less than a strong desire to move into that role at age 25. Jiménez’s move to DH was brought about to protect his legs after he returned from right knee surgery, and he could move back to left field at least part time in 2023.

I could see a Yordan Alvarez situation where he is the DH two-thirds of the time and in the outfield for the other third.

AJ Pollock admitted to having problems with fastballs.

“There’s a lot of stuff that I just didn’t have,” Pollock said. “I wasn’t hitting fastballs like I usually do. Trying to figure that part out. If you’re not hitting the fastball, a lot more chase is going to come into play because you’re going to be trying to cheat to get to some stuff and I think that happened a lot this year. I just didn’t have quite the answer to get that back on track, but it feels it feels like I’m in a better spot (during the) second half of the year.”

Wow, fastballs ate him up. His four-seam contact rate dropped from 89% to a career-low 79%. Additionally, his swinging-strike rate doubled from 6% to 12%. He was right that his swing-and-miss got better but it wasn’t great.

National League

Cubs

Nico Hoerner will likely move to second base next season.

Hoerner is a perceptive player, so he already saw this coming, but it sounds like Hoyer already prepared him for the possibility of switching positions next season. Moving off shortstop would be even easier with a long-term contract.


Again, Hoyer doesn’t foresee any issues if Hoerner goes back to being a Gold Glove-caliber second baseman.

He didn’t play any games at second base last season and will just be shortstop-qualified next year.

Matt Mervis could be the first baseman.

If the Cubs are aggressive in other areas as expected, prospect Matt Mervis should come into spring training with a chance to win the position. Mervis broke out in the minors this season, posting a 156 wRC+ across three levels. The lefty masher is 24 and has proven himself at all levels.

He hit .309/.379/.606 with 36 HR and 2 SB across three minor league levels.

One “concern” with Mervis is that he struggles against lefties.

One concern some had with Mervis was his performance against lefties. According to Cubs internal data, he did well in High-A, but by June, in Double A, he struggled, posting a .286 wOBA. But as was the case with nearly every other aspect of his game, Mervis slowly but surely grew in this area. By July (he was promoted to Triple A late in the month), that wOBA was up to .300, still low, but clearly on the uptick. In August, he only had 17 plate appearances against lefties, but his wOBA jumped to an above-average .360. By September, it all seemed to click. He had 43 plate appearances against lefties and delivered a robust .437 wOBA. In the AFL, Mervis has already slugged a homer. It came off a southpaw.

Last season across all minor league levels, he had a .869 OPS and 25% K% against lefties and a 1.039 OPS and 15% K% against righties. I’m not sure he struggles against lefties as much as crushes righties.

• Centerfield is the only unclaimed outfield spot meaning Christopher Morel is out and will be filled by a free agent or Brennen Davis.

“Talking to a lot of these outfielders, left and right are taken,” Ross said. “It’s pretty simple, there’s an open spot in center field. That’s where I’d put in my work, that’s where I’d try to get better.”

That seems to be a message to players like Christopher Morel (who struggled with an 82 wRC+ and 34.2 percent strikeout rate in the second half) and Nelson Velázquez, neither of whom measure well in the advanced metrics defensively in center. Perhaps it’s even a nod to minor-leaguers Brennen Davis or Alexander Canario. Ross noted there are quite a few righties who are putting up numbers in the minors for the Cubs and those two fit the mold. But Davis, who is currently performing quite well early in the Arizona Fall League, played in just 15 Triple-A games this year. It was originally believed that Davis would make his big-league debut this season, but a procedure on his back led to him missing the vast majority of the season. That led to Ross sounding doubtful that a surprise arrival on Opening Day for Davis was possible “given the adversity he’s been through.”

Giants

Thairo Estrada will play all over the field next season.

Estrada made most of his starts at second base this season, but the Giants believe he’s capable of moving around the infield and outfield and possibly taking on more of a super-utility role in 2023.

Anthony DeSclafani should be in the rotation, Jakob Junis be a swingman, and Kyle Harrison should eventually join the rotation.

DeSclafani made only five starts for the Giants this year before undergoing season-ending right ankle surgery in July, but he’s expected to rejoin Logan Webb, Alex Cobb and Alex Wood in the starting rotation in 2023. Zaidi said Jakob Junis would ideally be used as a swingman, allowing the Giants to add at least one starting pitcher this offseason.

Even if Rodón departs, the Giants have another electric lefty coming up in Kyle Harrison, who is ranked the club’s No. 2 prospect by MLB Pipeline. Harrison, 21, is expected to open the season at Triple-A Sacramento, but he could debut in San Francisco’s rotation sooner rather than later.

Nationals

Carter Kieboom will compete with Ildemaro Vargas for the starting third base job.

Pirates

Cal Mitchell might move to first base.

Outlook: Shelton said management this winter will consider moving Mitchell to first base. He seemed a little lost at times in the outfield, so a position change might provide some kind of spark.

Ke’Bryan Hayes hasn’t been healthy for a couple of seasons.

Third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes, who revealed he’s been nagged all season by a persistent back injury, went 0-for-3 and left the game after five innings.

About a month before spring training, Hayes tweaked his hip while lifting weights. That injury lingered into spring training, then led to nagging back pain.

“More than anything, it affected me swinging sometimes, just because of my whole left side being tight,” said Hayes, who batted .244/.314/.345 with seven home runs.

Hayes told the Pirates about his injury before the season began. Shelton and the medical staff tried to manage it by giving Hayes extra off days.

“Really, 2020 was the last time I felt normal,” said Hayes, who battled wrist injuries last year. “I want to figure out this back thing (this winter) and get back in the weight room, put on some size and get back to where I was in 2018 and 2019, maintaining my mobility and speed.”


Mining the News (10/3/22)

• Here is a nice writeup by Jayson Stark on the possible implications of the rule changes. I can’t post the entire article but I recommend reading it all to get a base understanding of projected changes. There will be a ton more to come on this subject over the Winter.

So here we are, a week or so after baseball announced its three most tide-shifting rule changes in almost half a century — pitch clock, shift limits and bases the size of the tires on your Honda. And now here’s the safest prediction I’ve ever made:

Stuff…will…happen.

American League

Angels

Jared Walsh got Thoracic Outlet Surgery from an injury he dealt with since his days pitching.

But Walsh struggled offensively, hitting .215/.269/.374 with 15 homers and 44 RBIs in 118 games before being shut down with thoracic outlet syndrome on Aug. 24.

Walsh, who underwent season-ending surgery on Sept. 1, spoke to the media on Friday about his operation and what to expect going forward. Walsh said the injury occurred a few years ago but worsened this season. He believes he might have injured himself pitching when the Angels experimented with him being a two-way player in 2019, saying it caused tightness in his neck and left shoulder. But the good news is that he’s expected to be ready for Spring Training next year.

Read the rest of this entry »


Mining the News (9/2/22)

American League

Rangers

Nathaniel Lowe has decided to swing at better pitches.

“Just committing to better pitches,” he said. “Offense as a whole is trending in such a direction where it’s like, such a visual thing, as far as ‘Does my swing look good?’ But the real one true answer is ‘Does your swing produce?’ And if you get good pitches to hit, are you doing what you’re supposed to do with good pitches to hit? I think that I’ve finally found a space where I can just commit to that.

OK, that gives us a place to start. What has Lowe done with pitches in the strike zone? It’s interesting to think back to spring training — remember when he simply wasn’t swinging at any pitches, choosing instead to track them for the first few games of Cactus League play? It felt weird to everyone, including his manager. It turns out that strategy was more like a big cat stalking its prey. Somewhere after Opening Day, Lowe — as he said above — started committing to (see: “swinging at”) better pitches.

His Swing% is up from 45% to 52% and his .855 OPS is a career-best. Read the rest of this entry »


Mining the News (8/18/22)

American League

Angels

Tucker Davidson has added a changeup.

Davidson threw his slider 35 times, getting seven swings and misses with the pitch, while also throwing his four-seamer 35 times and getting one whiff. But he did locate his four-seamer for seven called strikes to help him get ahead in counts. He also mixed in six changeups, which is a pitch he’s been working on with Wise.

“He had his slider and landed a couple good changeups,” interim manager Phil Nevin said. “He’s really been working on that changeup with Wiser, who is terrific at teaching that pitch. He threw some really good ones today. It’s more of a look [for the hitters] and it’s in their head now.”

José Suarez is working on a second changeup.

Suarez started working on his new changeup earlier this year at the suggestion of Angels pitching coach Matt Wise, who helped Suarez figure out a grip that allows the new changeup to move differently than the old one.

“It helps me a lot because they have two different movements,” Suarez said via interpreter Manny Del Campo. “My old one is more like a fastball, and this one has more movement.”

Added Nevin: “You can throw one for strikes, and the other one’s kind of more of a chase pitch. Good hitters taking the swings that they are off of it — it’s pretty impressive.”

Read the rest of this entry »