Mining the News (1/5/22)

Dan Straily 스트레일리 is looking to join a major league club after pitching in Korea.

Here is a brief history of his recent results.

The righty posted a 3.22 ERA and 24.75% strikeout rate over 360 1/3 innings with the Busan-based Giants, and perhaps the most intriguing statistic is the fact that Straily allowed a modest 22 homers in the hitter-friendly KBO.

Straily also allowed 22 home runs during his time with the Orioles, except that total came over only 47 2/3 innings, resulting in an ugly 9.82 ERA in 2019. A move to the bullpen didn’t help Straily get on track, and while the Phillies acquired Straily at that year’s trade deadline, he didn’t see any big league action in Philadelphia. Injuries contributed to that down year, as Straily mentioned in the reader chat that he only discovered after the season that he had been pitching with a torn meniscus.

Straily said in his chat that “we changed something on almost all of my pitches to make them better,” using such familiar pitching analysis “toys” as “Rapsodo, Driveline, and Edgertronic cameras” to both improve his changeup and add velocity to his fastball.

American League

Mariners

Abraham Toro is expected to see time in the outfield.

When I was in Seattle for the Robbie Ray news conference earlier this month, Jerry Dipoto reaffirmed that the Mariners still really, really like Toro, who just turned 25 on Dec. 20. I liked him in August (.296) but not as much in September and October (.183), but I still want to see more of him. I think he’s a much better third baseman than second baseman, and we know the Mariners will look at him in the outfield in spring training. I think he’ll get his at-bats depending on how the rest of the offseason shakes out — some outfield, some DH, some second base (with Frazier sliding to left field on occasion) and some third base. The Mariners love versatility and Toro has plenty of it, and they think the bat will play as well.

• The Mariners might also try Evan White in the outfield.

Well, [Evan White is] fully recovered from the surgery and is back to doing baseball activity. The Mariners hope he will be ready for spring training, where he’s expected to take some reps in left field.

“We’re gonna take it as we go with Evan,” Dipoto said at the GM meetings. “We still think he’s a wildly talented player. At Kentucky and with Team USA, he played some outfield. Kind (of) like the Dodgers did with Cody Bellinger, it just presents you with the potential of plate appearances. Having the versatility to play three different spots on the field gives us the chance to maximize opportunities for Evan.”

Still, positional versatility won’t keep White in the big leagues if he struggles at the plate.

Royals

Carlos Santana dealt with quad strain for the last six weeks of the season.

After receiving a PRP injection in October, Carlos Santana said that “Now, I feel 100 percent” in the wake of an injury-plagued season, the Royals first baseman told The Kansas City Star’s Lynn Worthy. This tracks with the 4-6 week timeline Santana initially gave in the wake of the injection, which was meant to help treat the Grade 2 quad strain that plagued the veteran slugger during the last six weeks of the season. Between the quad and other leg problems, Santana clearly wore down in 2021, batting only .185/.217/.284 over his last 351 plate appearances.

His struggles started way before the late-August quad/hip injury. On July 11th, he was hit in the wrist and missed some time. Before the injury he was batting .246/.368/.421 and after the injury, his results dropped to .176/.254/.246. Roster for cheap (454 ADP) and hope for a bounce back.

Twins

• For now, Randy Dobnak is the #4 starter.

Their only addition so far is Bundy, and nearly all the front-line free-agent starters have already signed elsewhere, making Dobnak the No. 4 starter for now.

I’d certainly expect that to change. At the very least, the Twins will have to sign or trade for someone with mid-rotation capability, pushing Dobnak lower on the depth chart. But generally speaking, I’d agree that Dobnak remains in the plans, in part because of the surprising long-term contract the Twins gave him last spring and in part because, if healthy after 2021 injuries, he’s a solid pitcher.

While Dobnack is free in drafts (733 ADP), it’s tough to feel good about rostering him since he was never productive last season.

Yankees

Clarke Schmidt returned from injury late last season.

Were you relieved to be able to return to the mound by the end of the year?

I had two goals in mind coming off the injury: No. 1 was getting back to the big leagues, and No. 2 was being able to at least log 30 to 50 innings and I ended up finishing with somewhere around 40. (Editor’s note: He pitched 38 minor-league innings and 6 1/3 major-league innings.) I was thankful for that.

I missed that he returned and after looking into the appearances, there are a couple of interesting facts. His fastball averaged 95.0 mph in 2020 and was only at 93.0 mph last year.

On the positive side, he seems to have added a slider. It got labeled as a changeup, but its characteristics are that of a slider as seen by these comparables.

His fastball velocity and the new pitch should be tracked during Spring Training.

National League

Cubs

Clint Frazier was dealing with “neurological symptoms” for some of 2020 and most 2021.

Former Yankees outfielder Clint Frazier went on the Short Porch podcast last week and discussed his time in pinstripes at length. During the episode, Frazier said he was still dealing with neurological symptoms that he said have affected him since he hit an outfield wall and suffered a concussion.

“I hit the wall in 2020, in September against the Blue Jays, and at that point, the symptoms started right,” Frazier said. “It just drug out, man. It just drug out because we didn’t have a diagnosis but also they weren’t aware. That was on me. (The Yankees) weren’t aware. I was fighting for my life because at the end of the stretch, (Brett Gardner) started playing and then I like fizzled out. So I was trying to continue to play, so I didn’t tell them and then I showed up to spring training (in 2021) and started to feel better. It kind of came back because I had an instance where I kind of bumped the wall again. I went into the whole season feeling that exact way.”

Frazier, who signed with the Cubs after being released by the Yankees, said he now has a diagnosis and a rehab plan. In 66 games (218 plate appearances) for New York in 2021, Frazier slashed .186/.317/.317 with a 76 OPS+, five home runs and 15 RBIs.

I guess the cause of his struggles (.186/.317/.317 ) is now known, but I’m not sold he’ll completely recover. Or if he’ll let the Cubs know that his head is bothering him.

Dodgers

Cody Bellinger changed his swing, again, this past postseason.

The long-term effects of the shoulder injury that derailed his 2021 season remain a concern. Bellinger showed some signs of hope in October with a pared-down version of his swing. An offseason free of rehab could allow more of those adjustments. So I think it’s fair to expect a strong bounce-back from Bellinger (the Dodgers do, at least to the extent that they opted to give him a contract for 2022). But I think something resembling his 2018 might be at the median level of expectation.

Giants

Mike Yastrzemski’s struggles might be from pitchers not throwing him any fastballs.

The biggest change that I noticed with Yaz was that his plate discipline and pitch-recognition skills took a step back. He struggled to hit breaking balls and those curves and sliders only became more and more frequent when he was unable to make an adjustment. I can tell you that I’ve met very few players who work as hard or as intentionally and thoughtfully as Yaz does. From an actuarial standpoint, he doesn’t have the long track record that would make a bounce-back to 2020 levels seem like a safe bet. But there’s a reason he’s still on the roster while others like Alex Dickerson are not. He’s a very good defender in right field and a solid all-around player and presence.

The rate of fastballs (sinkers and four-seamers) he’s seen has dropped from 59% to 56% to 48%. That part of the article is true, but his plate discipline didn’t change with his 2021 results right in line with his career numbers. Almost all of his decline can be traced back to his BABIP going from .370 to .254.

Reds

Nick Senzel’s knee was bothering him all of last season.

The Reds optioned him and then he reported that his knee was still bothering him. According to general manager Nick Krall, Senzel had said he was healthy before coming back to his minor-league assignment. On assignment, he didn’t look ready to contribute at the big-league level and as his rehab assignment was coming to a close the team decided to option him because he wasn’t going to help the team. That’s when he saw “multiple” doctors and there was more fluid on the knee.





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 once, and got his first NFBC Main Event win in 2021. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

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