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.

Twins

• Prospect Austin Martin tried to add some power, got hurt, and has gone back to his old swing.

Before the start of the season, the Twins attempted to implement changes to Martin’s approach at the plate. The idea was that Martin — who has played a lot at shortstop but more likely profiles at second base and in center field — has such good bat-to-ball skills that he could sell out for power early in the count in an attempt to do more damage. Even if he didn’t come through, Martin is so good at hitting with two strikes that he could shorten up and still get on base enough to warrant the change.

But the changes never really took hold. In the first three months of the season, Martin batted .249/.378/.313 with 11 extra-base hits in 283 plate appearances.

Martin tore the UCL in his non-throwing hand on July 1 and missed 6 1/2 weeks. At that time, his name tumbled from prospect lists. Though he was thought to be close to major-league ready at the start of the season, Martin’s name never surfaced as a possible option when the Twins dealt with those late-season injuries.

But Martin recently told MLB Pipeline he used his time off to recalibrate. He created a new plan with his hitting coaches and started to get going again. Martin returned to action on Aug. 17 and, reverting to more of his old approach, finished with a solid September.

Byron Buxton has been cleared to run.

After undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his right knee in late September, Byron Buxton told reporters (including Michael Rand of the Minneapolis Star Tribune) that he has now been cleared to run. The Twins outfielder won’t be entirely sure of his status until he starts running and can properly test his knee strength, but “I’m on a good plan to be prepared for Spring Training. For me it’s all about following and sticking to that plan, not trying to overdo it.”

The recovery process seems to be on pace with the 6-8 week timeline initially projected for the surgery in September. While the arthroscopic procedure was relatively minor, it marks yet another injury in Buxton’s lengthy health history.

White Sox

Garrett Crochet will likely be used as a multi-inning reliever.

Katz sounded open to the potential of multi-innings outings from the bullpen, but said he doesn’t “think starting is in the cards next year” for Crochet, which would mean he could head into his arbitration years without a professional start to his name.

National League

Braves

Vaughn Grissom is working with Ron Washington on his shortstop defense.

If it wasn’t apparent there’s a very real possibility Swanson will leave as a free agent, it should be now. The Braves sent Grissom from his home in Orlando, Florida, to New Orleans on Sunday to work with “Wash,” the first of three planned one-week sessions designed for one thing: to get the 21-year-old ready to play shortstop on a regular basis in the majors.

Diamondbacks

• I saw several non-industry types bring up Kyle Lewis’s lack of athletism and his DH-only profile.

After several knee injuries, these takes might be right. That season, he played four games in the outfield and the 14 as the DH or a pinch hitter. His Sprint Speed dropped from 27.7 ft/s to 24.1 ft/s or down from the 67th percentile to the 2nd percentile. He’s going to start the season as a Util-only player and may not ever gain outfield eligibility.

Giants

Kyle Harrison has the chance to start the season in the rotation.

If the Giants had been in the race, you might have seen Harrison promoted in September. Zaidi has said Harrison is likely to debut early next season and possibly even be an option to crack the opening-day rotation.

In AAA, Henderson posted a 13.6 K/9, 4.2 BB/9, 36% GB%, and 3.11 ERA. I haven’t seen any detailed writeups on him yet but it’s a name to track as the offseason continues.

Padres

Nick Martinez keeps stating he wants to be a starter.

So now how can we structure something that kind of values what I’m able to bring to the table while also giving me that security and the opportunity to start and show that I can start for a full season and go from there?

Like you said, you’re going to have a chance to start on a full-time basis. What were those conversations with the Padres like as far as that opportunity?

The opportunity’s there, right? Now I’ve got to do my part. Obviously, as someone who’s bet on himself for basically his whole career, I’m cool doing that and I’m excited to do that and show them that I can do that.

Pirates

Ji-Man Choi played through an elbow injury last season and is having surgery on it this offseason.

Before Choi meets his future teammates, he will undergo a minor procedure on his right elbow to remove a chipped bone, something general manager Ben Cherington addressed after the trade was made official. Choi detailed that his elbow felt swollen throughout the season, making it difficult to extend his arms.





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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ballfourmember
7 days ago

Hey Grissom: It’s incredibly hard.