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.

Blue Jays

• Nate Pearson’s future is most likely in the bullpen.

It’s hard to say if the road to starting is blocked off forever, but at least in the near term, a role in the bullpen seems to be the quickest road back to the majors for Pearson. The right-hander is pitching in the Dominican winter league. He’s pitched five innings in five games without allowing a run and has four strikeouts and a walk. A bulk role in the bullpen seems like a viable path for Pearson since he really just needs to pitch. If he can find his best stuff, he could also be the type of power arm the Blue Jays need for their bullpen.

Mariners

• Logan Gilbert’s has another new slider.

“I’m trying to throw Verlander’s slider,” the young righty said in a September visit to Oakland. “That same spin axis and velocity.”

The new new slider has meant retaining the high 80s velocity of his new slider but adding the drop of his old slider.

Damn, the new slider takes a major step forward when I look at it’s comps.

Before

After

The comps get more sink and swing-and-miss. Arrow up.

Rangers

• Joe Barlow had off-season surgery on this hand.

Red Sox

Tanner Houck is the best internal closer candidate.

The top internal option to close for the Sox next season is Tanner Houck, who got his feet wet in that role before being shut down in August with a back injury that required season-ending surgery.

This take is all from the beat writer and not at all from the team.

Twins

• Royce Lewis won’t be done with his knee rehab until mid-summer.

The heirs apparent at shortstop within the organization are Royce Lewis and 2022 first-round Draft selection Brooks Lee — and Lewis is likely to be rehabbing from his re-torn ACL into the summer, while Lee likely still needs seasoning.

White Sox

• Oscar Colas gets some GM love for being the starting right fielder.

To counter this, Hahn immediately offered 24-year-old power-hitting outfield prospect Oscar Colás as an in-house option for right field. A full “Project Birmingham” participant, Colás arrived at Triple A for only the last seven games of 2022, despite the offensive woes above him in Chicago. But the left-handed hitting Cuban collected a .314/.371/.524 batting line across three levels in his first stateside season, with 23 home runs despite being slowed early by wrist pain. Opening Day with the White Sox in Houston is no longer too soon to think about him, the team’s GM said.

“I think the acclimation period is behind him now, now it’s just a matter of showing that he’s ready and belongs in the big leagues,” Hahn said. “We’ll head to camp and see where we’re at. Obviously, there will be offseason check-ins, as well, and see where the progress is at. But he impressed us last year and is on a real good trajectory to contribute in a meaningful way as soon as next year.”

• Garrett Crochet will start the season in a hybrid role.

Hahn said Reynaldo López and Jimmy Lambert will remain in the bullpen, Garrett Crochet is due for a sitdown meeting in Arizona for how to map out a “hybrid role” to slowly move him toward starting after missing the 2022 season with Tommy John surgery, and if anything, the Sox will have a greater need for starting depth than last season.

Yankees

• DJ LeMahieu will try not to have surgery but it’s still on the table.

There’s still no update on DJ LeMahieu’s foot injury. Surgery still has not been ruled out, and it’s possible the Yankees re-evaluate his status in a month. The initial sense is LeMahieu will opt for a conservative approach with rest and treatment to see how the foot responds before deciding if surgery is necessary.

• Brian Cashman expects Clay Holmes to be next season’s closer.

Cashman said he has “a lot of faith in Clay Holmes” as the team’s closer and expects him to hold that spot going into next season.

National League

Braves

• Charlie Morton was using his previously broken back leg until June.

“In an ideal world, it’s tight, with two-to-three inches of cut,” says Morton about that pitch. “Then it’s a wrinkle, it’s something different. I’m trying to be more cognizant of that pitch and how I’m throwing it. Because of my arm slot, it’s a tricky pitch, and it’s kind of stressful.”

“Kyle had an outing in Arizona, he was talking about his last outing, where he had an inning that was a little bumpy, and I asked him what do you do? And he said, ‘I just try to get into my back leg.’ He said he does that if he gets into later innings, and gets a little tired, and his delivery breaks down. I wasn’t sure I had been doing that this year, really getting into that leg, and really driving off that back leg. I thought I’d try it, I’ve tried every other thing.”

Wright told Morton that the cue helped him improve his extension (how close to the plate he releases the ball), and the elder righty knew that his extension was down, too. After he used Wright’s advice, Morton’s extension improved by over two inches. And his results followed.

“It was the leg I broke,” realized Morton. “I tried it, and I struck out eight dudes and felt better, and it changed my extension and it changed my direction.”

Since that day, Morton has been much more Morton-like, with a 3.65 ERA and 11.6 strikeouts per nine against fewer than three walks per nine. Thanks to the kid.

• Before the revelation, he had a 5.47 ERA, 8.4 K/9, and 4.0 BB/9. From then on it was a 11.7 K/9, 3.0 BB/9, and 3.89 ERA.

Cardinals

• Tommy Edman is penciled in as the team’s starting shortstop.

While Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak was quick to pronounce Tommy Edman as his team’s starting shortstop for the season ahead …

• For Paul DeJong to have a role with the team, he will need to hit in the spring.

“With Paulie, this spring is important,” Mozeliak said of DeJong, who hit just .157 in 77 MLB games after spending several months with Triple-A Memphis while trying to rediscover his stroke. “He has to make changes. When you think back to when he came up [in late July], he brought a lot of energy and some impact with his bat for about three weeks. Then, he regressed back to where he was prior to getting sent down. So, I think, for him, he’s got to figure out how to get back there, what he can do differently, and he’s obviously got to make some changes.

“Do you want someone that’s a defensive replacement at $9 million a year? No, that’s not ideal.”

Cubs

Brennen Davis was never healthy this year, including the Fall League.

Davis’ ETA at Wrigley Field was supposed to be 2022 — until he experienced sciatica-like symptoms and needed a surgical procedure to relieve the pain in his back and down his legs. Davis played in only 43 Triple-A games this year before the Cubs tried to get him extra at-bats in the Arizona Fall League. That experiment lasted only 21 plate appearances as Davis felt what was described as back tightness and general soreness in Arizona.

There has been some talk of him taking over the Cubs centerfield job. I bet the team at least tries to add a backup option.

Dodgers

• Max Muncy might finally be over his 2021 elbow tear.

Muncy had an unusual season, and was undoubtedly impacted by a partial UCL tear in his left elbow suffered on the last day of the 2021 regular season. Muncy opted against surgery, and then struggled to a .161/.310/.303 slash line over his first 339 plate appearances before turning it around to hit .247/.358/.500 in his final 226 PA. His extension was announced a few weeks into that late-season hot streak, indicating that the Dodgers are confident that Muncy can get back to his old form when fully healthy.

Phillies

• If Bryce Harper has elbow surgery, it might take him all of 2023 to recover looking at past examples.

Now that the 2022 season is officially over, Harper’s rehabilitation plan will likely come to light in the upcoming days. Position players that have recently suffered damage to their UCL include Dodgers’ infielder Max Muncy at the end of the 2021 season and Rangers’ shortstop Corey Seager at the start of the 2018 season. Muncy opted not to undergo surgery and said that the recovery was not as quick as he had hoped and that six months after the injury, he wasn’t fully recovered. In contrast, Seager underwent surgery and missed the remainder of the season before returning for the 2020 season.

Pirates

• Mitch Keller played around with his arsenal last season.

The turnaround began in May, when Keller revamped his arsenal. He added a sinker, a pitch he’d never thrown before. There were growing pains as he learned to command the pitch, a recurring theme for Keller, but as the season progressed, he’s generally gotten better and better with his sinker

Because, a few weeks after Keller added the sinker, he messed around with his slider during a bullpen session, trying a two-seam grip instead of the curveball grip he used in the spring.

“I just picked it up one day and started throwing it again,” Keller said. “It was nasty, so I’ve just been rolling with it.”

Since late June, when his slider settled in with elite horizontal movement, Keller’s version of the pitch has been rated as the second-best slider in baseball by Stuff+.

Here are some comps for the pitches.

Before July 1st

After July 1st

The earlier slider was better for the simple reason, he was throwing it over 3 mph harder and therefore missing more bats.





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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weekendatbidens
2 months ago

Is Logan Gilbert’s new slider legit good or was this a small sample?

weekendatbidens
2 months ago
Reply to  Jeff Zimmerman

I don’t understand the comps enough I guess. But if he was trying to copy Verlander’s slider, why don’t we see that in the comps?