Mining the News (12/16/21)

American League

Angels

Michael Lorenzen has a guaranteed rotation spot.

If and when spring training begins in 2022, Lorenzen will not come in needing to earn a rotation spot. He confirmed his spot is “locked in.”

Lorenzen disagrees with the perception he’s a “failed starter” because he believes his arsenal has evolved significantly. Throw that rookie year out the window, he argued, because he’s a totally different pitcher.

“I don’t think people understood how rudimentary my skills were when it came to being in the rotation my rookie year,” Lorenzen said. “I had no idea what I was doing. … I’m surviving with no skill.”

His changeup now, he says, is 10 mph slower than his fastball. His two-seamer is different from his four-seamer. And his curveball is refined and he’s excited to use it as a starter. It wasn’t often called upon when he was a reliever.

He needed to sell himself on these changes because he’s been horrible as a starter (4.95 ERA, 4.68 xFIP, 1.50 WHIP). The biggest issue while starting was the walks (4.3 BB/9) and those didn’t go away last season in the bullpen (also 4.3 BB/9). He’s fine as a late-round flier, but I don’t expect some major step forward.

Astros

Alex Bregman is getting ready for a move to shortstop.

Alex Bregman is preparing for a move to shortstop, should the Astros have a need, the third baseman told Michael Schwab on his podcast.

• As the roster currently stand, Jeremy Peña will be the starting shortstop.

Peña is expected to debut in the majors at some point next season, and it could be sooner rather than later. If one was to set odds on who will start the most games at shortstop for the Astros in 2022, he would be the current favorite.

Pena’s Steamer600 projection is .246/.297/.411 with 20 HR and 11 SB. Those numbers are similar to those of Jarred Kelenic and Wil Myers. Overall, not bad considering he has an current NFBC ADP of 633.

Blue Jays

Jordan Romano had offseason surgery on his knee for a torn meniscus.

But the fact that he was still doing so late in the 2021 season was a medical anomaly given he was doing so with what a post-season MRI revealed to be torn meniscus in his left knee.

Now surgically repaired and recovered, Romano feels he’ll be even stronger in 2022. The 28-year-old Markham, Ont. native revealed the injury publicly for the first time when we caught up with him at his winter training base north of Tampa.

“It was my left knee and that’s huge because it’s my landing knee and that’s where you get a lot of your velocity being able to stop your body,” Romano said. “It’s really important. We worked hard on just getting it stable enough to be able to throw on it for the rest of the season.”

Twins

Dylan Bundy should throw more sliders this next season.

Last season Bundy threw 21 percent sliders and he’s never used it more than 25 percent of the time despite it clearly being his best pitch year after year. No one loves a plus slider more than Twins pitching coach Wes Johnson. Bundy setting a career-high for slider usage in 2022 is all but guaranteed and don’t be shocked if he doubles his previous career rate.

It’s the Twins way.

National League

Cardinals

Juan Yepez, Lars Nootbaar, Nolan Gorman, and Paul DeJong are options to fill the DH role if it comes to the NL.

Mozeliak and the front office are planning for both scenarios. The Cardinals have plenty of internal candidates. Juan Yepez is a leading candidate after his breakout season in the minor leagues last year, along with Lars Nootbaar and Gorman, when he is called up. Given the aforementioned middle infield, DeJong could also spell some DH reps to free up some space on the diamond.

Kyle Schwarber, Mitch Moreland and Nelson Cruz are likely to garner interest from multiple teams, but those external options will come at a cost, and the front office has already prioritized relief pitching as its next pursuit once baseball resumes. There is also concern that an external addition would block talent like Gorman and Yepez.

The Cardinals are confident they have the internal talent to carry the position and can always re-evaluate around the trade deadline.

Here is how the projections on the four compare.

Name: AVG/OBP/SLG
Juan Yepez: .263/.328/.475
Lars Nootbar: .256/.326/.419
Nolan Gorman: .259/.304/.431
Paul DeJong: .235/.316/.428

Juan Yepez is an interesting option since he has no defensive value and is projected to be the group’s best hitter.

Paul DeJong was overthinking his approach last season.

It’s difficult for DeJong to pinpoint exactly what went wrong at the plate last season, but he is quick to acknowledge that he lacked consistency in his preparation and struggled to find a routine that yielded results.

“I was trying to do things different every day,” he said. “I really didn’t have any momentum. I wasn’t working on my own fundamentals every day, I wasn’t even sure what my own fundamentals were. I was just overanalyzing everything, from where my hands were to how my legs felt, to timing, to the pitcher and what he was doing. I was just overthinking literally everything that was going on in the game, versus taking in the information and being instinctual.”

Dodgers

• After having elbow surgery, Danny Duffy won’t be available until at least June.

The Dodgers and Duffy were both rather quiet on his outlook. The left-hander now reveals to Andy McCullough of The Athletic that after initially fearing what would’ve been his second career Tommy John surgery, he instead required surgery to repair the flexor tendon in his left arm. That procedure, performed in October, comes with a months-long rehabilitation process. Duffy is targeting June for a return to a big league mound and expects to pitch out of the bullpen in 2022 before hopefully moving back into a rotation thereafter.

Marlins

• It is implied that the team is not happy with Sixto Sánchez’s rehab.

This news is tough to 100% believe and then determine the fantasy impact. I was already staying away because of the injury until I saw he was healthy. That doesn’t change, but will be keeping a sharper eye on him in Spring Training.

Jesús Sánchez is showing better plate discipline in the Dominican Winter League.

[Jesús Sánchez] has struck out in 32 percent of his major-league plate appearances since debuting in 2020. Over 71 at-bats in LIDOM, he struck out only three more times than he walked (12). He showed good control of the strike zone against both left-handed and right-handed pitchers, the evaluator said.

A 21% K% for Sanchez would really push up his production. When picking late-round flyers, the news makes him a little more intriguing.

Avisaíl García could play center field.

One note of importance in their search to add to the outfield mix, via a second column from McPherson, is that general manager Kim Ng suggested the team believes the newly signed Garcia can play regularly in center field, if needed.

While Garcia’s value should remain unchanged, Bryan De La Cruz might take a hit if the team adds another outfielder.

Mets

• The team may consider J.D. Davis and Dominic Smith as the DH to add positional flexibility.

Does Dom Smith’s future as a Met hinge on the NL getting the DH? — Assorted Tom Foolery

The Mets would certainly look more actively for a trade partner for Smith (and probably J.D. Davis) if the league and union announced tomorrow that a universal DH was off the table. With a DH, you can imagine either one of those guys — or even both, in a platoon situation — being regular contributors.

Even without one, the Mets wouldn’t have to trade Smith (or Davis). Injuries happen, as you know, which could open up playing time for them. Neither was a regular at the start of 2019, and they combined for 650 plate appearances; Smith didn’t start in two of the first eight games of 2020 and then started in 46 of the last 52. The Mets have tried to add flexibility to their roster, and keeping these guys preserves that dynamic.

Here is a quick statistical comparison of the two.

Mets DH Options
Name Proj OPS Career OPS vLHP Career OPS vRHP
J.D. Davis .748 .808 .795
Dominic Smith .739 .783 .622

From this info, Davis is the choice and at least the obvious option versus right-handers. Right now, Smith has an average NFBC ADP of 365 and Davis is at a 430 ADP.

Pirates

• Here is a stab at the team’s rotation and batting order.

What’s your best guesstimate on the Opening Day batting order and starting rotation? — Jeffrey K.

Rotation: José Quintana, Bryse Wilson, Mitch Keller, JT Brubaker, Pitcher TBA (via free agency or trade). I think the rotation will be in flux all season. There are so many variables. Maybe Quintana is lights-out and is traded, or maybe he scuffles and becomes Steven Brault version 2.0. Maybe Keller continues to be a headache. Maybe Brubaker’s long-ball problems from last summer continue. Max Kranick, Miguel Yajure and Roansy Contreras will pitch in the majors next year: Do they float in and out, or does one or more of them secure spots?

C: Roberto Pérez, 1B: Yoshi Tsutsugo, 2B: Tucupita Marcano, SS: Kevin Newman, 3B: Ke’Bryan Hayes, LF: Ben Gamel, CF: Bryan Reynolds, RF: Greg Allen. I’m not going to set down an order yet other than to assume Tsutsugo is cleanup and Pérez is No. 8. Hayes and Reynolds at Nos. 2 and 3, respectively? Probably. Nobody jumps out for leadoff — Gamel? Newman? As for Marcano, I’m just riding a hunch at this point. Let’s see what happens when — if? — we get to spring training.

It is the Pirates so not that much excitement, but it did put the 21-year-old Tucupita Marcano on my radar. His Steamer600 isn’t that great with a .252/.320/.357 triple-slash line with 9 HR and 13 SB. Well, barely on my radar.





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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tomjef
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tomjef

In real baseball, doesn’t a DH platoon tie up a potentially useful roster spot (Mets, Dominic and JD)? Or does that potential value (given the individuals) exceed the value of an end of roster reliever? Do you see (in the Process), DH platoons as a viable value equation? If so, what is the calculus?

Miggy Pop
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Miggy Pop

FWIW: I don’t think that chart is accurate. I see Smith’s career OPS split vs RHP as .750 (i.e. he has shown no platoon split)

tomjef
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tomjef

True that

TheBabbo
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TheBabbo

Jeff forgot to click the “career” button for Dom’s splits, the numbers shown are for 2021 only. (And the correct career OPS vs LHP is .763)