Mining Some Opening Day … Stuff

American League

Angels

• I watched this game because Patrick Sandoval was one of the few Opening Day starters who might end up on the waiver wire this season. Most teams were throwing early-round aces. It was a mixed bag for him. On the good side, his fastball velocity was up a tick from 93.1 mph to 94.2 mph. Also, his change-up was on producing a 24% SwStr%.

There was plenty of bad with him allowing 5 R (three earned) in 1.2 IP. The defense behind him, especially Anthony Rendon, was atrocious. The main problem was that he could not throw strikes (40% Zone%, 40% Ball%, 11% equiv BB%).

I’d monitor him to see if the start was a one-off and he finds the strike zone or he’ll struggle to find it again this season.

José Suarez relieved Sandoval and he had nothing with his velocity down to 91.6 mph and no swing-and-miss.

Yankees

• The team’s crack medical staff still has no idea what is wrong with DJ LeMahieu’s foot.

National League

Dodgers

Gavin Lux will be on the strong side of a platoon with Miguel Rojas facing lefites. Mookie Betts will play some second base when the swap happens.

Nationals

• I watched Josiah Gray and he also needs to be more efficient. It took him 80 pitches to get through just 4 IP. Batters missed his pitches (19% SwStr% on the game) but he walked two batters and allowed two homers in the start. He’s just not going to be in line for Wins until he tightens up his game.

Nick Senzel broke his thumb so Trey Lipscomb is getting the call to the majors.

I’m not that excited about Lipscomb with Baseball America labeling his best trait to be versatility:

Lipscomb is an athletic defender with a slightly above-average arm who played every infield position. The Nationals believe he’s good enough to play any of them.

A utility infielder. For reference, here are his Steamer600 comps.

No excitement exists on that list.

Reds

Frankie Montas didn’t shove, but he was decent going 6.1 IP with 81 pitches. While he didn’t walk any batters, he only struck out four. The Nats didn’t square him up since he allowed zero Barrels and just a 12% LD%.

Nick Martini hit two, no doubt, home runs as the DH. With the team’s deep roster, I never figured that Martini would come into play and didn’t analyze him this offseason. Here are two methods I used to examine hitters and his skills point to a 20 HR hitter who doesn’t kill a team’s batting average. First, here are the hitters with similar Steamer600 projections.

And here are hitters with similar core skills.

The 33-year-old won’t be a game changer but in leagues where Carlos Santana and Michael Conforto are rostered, Martini is in play.

The team might use Martini on the strong side of a platoon.

The left-handed Martini was especially good against right-handed pitching in 2023, hitting .293/.402/.546 with 17 home runs against right-handers between Triple A and the big leagues. All six of his home runs with the Reds were against right-handed pitchers. He even had three hits in 11 at-bats against left-handers.

“There’s an argument for Nick to hit higher in the lineup,” Bell said before Thursday’s game. “But we just had a meeting about the importance of the whole lineup.”

In the majors, he has a .378 OPS against lefties and a .849 OPS against righties.





Jeff, one of the authors of the fantasy baseball guide,The Process, writes for RotoGraphs, The Hardball Times, Rotowire, Baseball America, and BaseballHQ. He has been nominated for two SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis and won it in 2013 in tandem with Bill Petti. He has won four FSWA Awards including on for his Mining the News series. He's won Tout Wars three times, LABR twice, and got his first NFBC Main Event win in 2021. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

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chazzycatmember
25 days ago

Thanks Jeff, always love reading these. Here’s to another season of ’em. Michael Conforto didn’t deserve catching that stray though!