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.

Red Sox

Brayan Bello has added a curveball.

That it took so long for Wong to call the pitch was probably because it wasn’t really part of Bello’s repertoire. It was a brand new pitch Bello had only been working on for a few days; he decided to debut it in that Hicks at-bat.

The curveballs were just two of the season-high 98 pitches Bello threw that night, but its appearance marked a significant step in the rookie’s development.

Earlier in the week, NESN cameras had shown Rich Hill, whose curveball is his signature pitch, leaning over the dugout railing at Fenway next to Bello. With a ball in hand, the 42-year-old Hill showed the 23-year-old Bello his grip, mimicking the roller coaster movement of the pitch.

While I just have two samples, the pitch grades out fine.

It lacks some swing-and-miss.

• The 2023 roles for Tanner Houck and Garrett Whitlock are up in the air.

Last winter, we spent a lot of time discussing the debate of which roles the club would use Tanner Houck and Garrett Whitlock in. They were both used as starters and relievers at different times this season. It seems like this question is still unanswered and it will again be a topic of conversation this winter. Is that correct?

Obviously the injury bug for both of them has kind of thrown a wrinkle into things that we need to get our arms around first. We’ll see where that takes us. The good thing is we know both these guys are going to be major contributors to winning in the future and we’re glad they’re in our foxhole.

• Also, Garrett Whitlock hopes to be ready by spring after having hip surgery.

White Sox

Luis Robert tried to play through a wrist injury.

It’s with this background that he pushed to play through a wrist that he sprained on Aug. 12 when he slid into Jonathan Schoop’s cleat in front of second base.

“I asked them to let me try to play,” Robert said through Russo. “We were making a push to make the playoff and I wanted to be part of that and help the team.”

He quite clearly was not able to. From the time he suffered the injury until he was shut down for the season this weekend, Robert started 11 of the team’s 38 games and batted .156/.192/.222 with no home runs. His grueling end to the Aug. 23-25 Baltimore series, where his discomfort was so profound that his left hand was repeatedly coming off the bat in the finish of his swing, marked the last time Robert played more than two consecutive games, as flareups of soreness made him a truly day-to-day decision on whether he could play for a month.

Yankees

Aaron Judge admits to being off his game after he broke his wrist.

“I think I relate a lot of this to staying healthy,” Judge said. “I don’t think people understand how tough it is to go from breaking your wrist to getting back out there and facing 97 mph and trying to use the same mechanics and be as productive as you were before you broke your wrist.”

Judge broke his wrist in late-July 2018 and finally got going three years later.

National League

Cardinals

Adam Wainwright’s arm is dead.

For the last month, Wainwright has been experiencing a “dead arm” sensation. It’s a common ailment for pitchers that usually occurs in spring and doesn’t relate much to overall injury or usage. In short, Wainwright has lost the feel for his pitches, leading to an inability to command them. It’s something he’s experienced before, often in June or July, and this time it’s something he didn’t express much concern over in the weeks prior. He said that throughout his career he’s always been able to pitch through it.

Cubs

Nico Hoerner could move to second or third base next season.

Rumors have swirled linking the Cubs to one of the elite free agent shortstops expecting to hit the open market after this season: Trea Turner, Xander Bogearts, Carlos Correa (if he opts out of his deal with the Minnesota Twins) and Dansby Swanson. Should the Cubs pursue one of the top of the market shortstops, that likely means Hoerner would move around the diamond to either second or third base, and Nick Madrigal would play the other position or DH.

“If they’re spending money to give us the best chance to be in the postseason and be not just a competitive team but a dominant team, which is what you want to go towards, obviously that’s the biggest priority,” Hoerner said last week.

• The Cubs expect Kyle Hendricks to be part of the next year’s rotation.

The Cubs are in “constant communication” with Hendricks, according to pitching coach Tommy Hottovy, monitoring his progress at the team’s Arizona complex, where he’s expected to train throughout the offseason. Hendricks, who got shut down with a capsular tear in his right shoulder, hasn’t yet restarted his throwing program, instead focusing on strengthening his lower body.

“There’s a lot of things with the delivery that he’s wanted to be able to work on and tweak, trying to get back to ’16, ’17 in terms of how he moved,” Hottovy said. “Unfortunately, during the season, you don’t have a lot of time to work on those things. This is kind of the time to be able to do that. Hopefully, by the time we start throwing, everything mechanical (and with his) lower half is ready to go.”

“I’m confident in him having a good, normal offseason to build up. So as of right now, we absolutely are believing in Kyle Hendricks to be a huge part of the team next year. Obviously, we’ll have to see how things develop over the offseason.”

Marlins

Bryan De La Cruz has reworked his approach at the plate.

That included changing his approach: looking to make contact and trusting his good vision of the plate so he was a model of consistency. It also meant tweaking his swing from lifting his leg to more of a toe tap to maintain his timing.

Since being recalled from AAA earlier this month, he has hit .421/.453/.825 with a 19% K%. Up until that point, he hit .205/.249/.332 with a 27% K%.

Pirates

Miguel Andújar might play first base this season and next.

Miguel Andújar, who has played 17 1/3 innings at first base in the Majors, might become the 11th and see some time there before season’s end.

“He’s going to get out there with [bench coach Don Kelly],” Shelton said of Andújar, who had a hit, a walk and a sacrifice fly in his Pirates debut. “We’re going to find out where he’s at. … He’ll probably play out in the outfield a little bit. I think we want to get our eyes on him. Have [first-base coach Tarrik Brock] get his eyes on him and Donnie get his eyes on him over at first. But I wouldn’t rule it out.”

Reds

Jose Barrero took off a few days to rework his swing.

Now, Barrero will try to ride a wave of offense in his own right. To say that he has been going through it this season would be an understatement. In 154 plate appearances entering Wednesday, Barrero posted a .149 average with a .385 OPS. Among batters with at least 150 plate appearances this season, his .385 OPS is the worst in baseball by more than 50 points from the next entry (the A’s Cristian Pache, .436).

Barrero has been given days off over the past few weeks to work on his swing. The Reds look forward to seeing how he grows from the challenge, hoping to see more signs on the path of Wednesday’s breakthrough.

Rockies

Charlie Blackmon will get knee surgery.

Blackmon will undergo arthroscopic surgery to repair his left meniscus on Monday in Denver. The procedure will be performed by team physician Dr. Thomas Noonan.

Blackmon’s left knee has been bothering him for about a week. The Rockies’ designated hitter said he felt something in his knee when he stepped on a base during the last homestand. Blackmon initially thought it was a fleeting issue, but the pain persisted and eventually became too difficult to play through.

Blackmon said he had previously undergone the same surgical procedure on his right knee, so he is familiar with the rehabilitation process. He expects to be healthy for Spring Training 2023.

The one item I didn’t know of was the previous knee surgery. That would explain where his speed went.





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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Saltymember
3 months ago

Jeff – just wanted to thank you for these columns, they are a great source of information throughout the season.

It looks like LouBob might be an interesting buy-back next year in leagues where most teams focus solely on the overall stats.