Mining the News (2/6/23)

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

American League


• The health reports for Andrés Muñoz and Paul Sewald are encouraging.

The most important question in the pen will be whether Andrés Muñoz and Paul Sewald ready to go after offseason surgeries. Dipoto gave encouraging reports on both – Muñoz is out of a walking boot and started a throwing program two weeks ago, while Sewald has had multiple throwing sessions. He anticipates both “being ready to throw in games in Arizona.”


DL Hall will be stretched out for the rotation.

Hall, 24, is also in an intriguing spot. He made his big-league debut with a start in August and then returned in September, finishing with 10 relief appearances, eight of them scoreless. The lefty showed he could be effective in the bullpen, but there is no way you give up on him as a starter yet. So, he’ll get his shot this spring. If he doesn’t make the rotation, Elias said it’s not been determined whether Hall will be in the bullpen or at Triple A, honing his starting stuff.

“We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. We want to toss him into the rotation competition in camp,” Elias said. “Hopefully, he wins one of those spots. I think we’ll see what else is going on with the rest of the team if that ends up (not) being the case.”

• The team is NOT likely to go with a six-man rotation.

[Elias] said he wasn’t sure if a six-man starting rotation was a consideration. “We’re talking more about a five-man rotation right now.”


Josh Jung was not healthy last season but is now “dialed in”.

“I have to give myself grace,” Jung said last week. “I wasn’t fully healthy. I was doing everything I could to just come back and play baseball … But, man, it was a struggle. I was struggling bad, but looking back on it, it wasn’t as bad as I thought.

“I swung-and-missed a lot,” he continued. “I was just going up there putting so much pressure on myself just to make contact. Once you start focusing on that stuff you start doing exactly what you don’t want to do. Like ‘I don’t want to strike out.’ Well, that’s probably what’s gonna happen, because that’s what you’re focused on.”

“A couple weeks ago I was hitting in the cage, and I kind of found it,” Jung says. “And I was like ‘Oh! There it is.’ (I’m) confident and ready to go now. I used the Rapsodo when I hit, to see metrics, and it was like ‘Boom. That’s what I want.’ Over and over and over again. And it was finally like ‘I’m dialed in, I’m ready to go now.’”

Leody Taveras is out of minor-league options.

But [Taveras is] out of minor-league options, which means he can’t be optioned to the minor leagues from here on out without clearing waivers.

In a shallow roto league with decent waiver wire options, I think the 24-year-old is worth taking a shot on. He has a ton of tools but no plate discipline (see also: Oneil Cruz). Of the 15 Online Championship drafts (12-team, 5 OF, redraft), he’s only been taken in two of them. I know he has plate discipline issues but his maxEV is in the 88th percentile and his Sprint Speed is in the 96th. He needs to be drafted in every roto league for the 20/20 upside.

• The team is open to a six-man rotation.

Meanwhile, both Young and new manager Bruce Bochy have been surprisingly open to the idea of a six-man rotation.

Brad Miller played with a neck injury all of last season.

Miller, meanwhile, could slide down a section. We found out last week that the neck injury that bothered him all year long actually happened during spring training.

Mitch Garver is hoping to hit with more loft.

“I’m not reinventing anything,” Garver explained. “There were some things that just opened up a whole new avenue for me. … It might not look different, but there are a few different mechanical things. We’re trying to create a little bit more loft in the swing and we want to be able to hit some more offspeed pitches. I’m excited.”

Garver is an interesting fantasy option since he’s Util-only (Yahoo is the only format with him at catcher) until he gets at least 10 games behind the plate (see also: Shea Langeliers, though he should get C-elig. quicker than Garver). In auctions, I’d hate to tie up my Util spot with a third catcher. It might even be tough to carry him in a league with a short bench (NFBC) where teams are hoping for breakouts from their bench darts. In 15 Online Championship drafts (12-team, 5 OF, redraft), Garver (proj ~.750 OPS) has only been drafted once while Langeliars (proj ~.700 OPS) has been added 13 times.

White Sox

• Some of Sean Burke’s minor league struggles might be related to working on a four-pitch arsenal. Also, he worked on improving his slider.

Repeatedly, they have identified Burke as that pitcher this season. His 4.75 ERA across three levels last year might not tell the story. He might have posted shinier stats if he had leaned more on the four-seam/curveball combination he’s always been comfortable throwing out of his high arm slot, rather than trying to build out the four-pitch arsenal he will need in the majors.
Burke has spent the winter seeing how the Cy Young runner-up moves his wrist and fingers on release and examining his own work via Edgertronic video. It’s not going to eliminate the role of his curveball but ideally will serve as a harder pairing to his riding four-seamer.

“I was trying to throw my slider a little bit harder towards the end of the year, and I was having some success with it,” Burke said. “It’s not going to have a ton of horizontal movement or a ton of movement, really, at all. I’m trying to create a little bit more depth.”

Burke is the first guy up if the White Sox need another starting pitcher replacement.


Harrison Bader is working on better pitch selection.

That morning in Florida, Bader hit with rehabbing infielder DJ LeMahieu, continuing the work he’d been doing all winter, much of which emphasized swing decisions.

“It isn’t that he hasn’t done stuff like that before,” Lawson said, referring to Bader’s breakout October, “but we know that he was hurt for a large chunk of that 2022 season, even before we got him. … But the pitch selection, I think, is going to allow for everything else to play up. He’s a physical guy. He’s strong. He’s twitchy. He understands what he wants to accomplish and what kind of hitter he can be and it’s really just a matter of getting him the right pitches so, that way, everything else falls right into place.”

Bader’s walk rate was down at 5% BB% last season after being over 10% BB% just a couple of seasons back. He’s making contact with everything (Contact% from 76% to 77% to 79%) but not getting any power behind the ball (ISO from .217 to .193 to .106). Maybe he can hit that perfect combination of power and contact rate.

DJ LeMahieu is back to his pre-injury swing according to his hitting coach.

LeMahieu’s bat speed and swing appear to be back to pre-injury levels, the hitting coach said.

“He’s always had a really good knack for the strike zone and obviously for contact,” Lawson said. “Last year with the injury, he couldn’t load the way he wanted to, couldn’t stay on the back side when he was getting into the way he started rotating into impact. None of that is there now. He’s, at minimum, back and maybe a tick beyond that.”

National League


• The center field position is far from being determined with about a half dozen options.

“I think that your guys’ guess is as good as mine,” Roberts said when asked about the outlook for the position previously manned by former National League MVP Cody Bellinger.

They have options, sure. Chris Taylor has more than 1,300 big-league innings of experience in center field but is coming off a down offensive season.

There’s Trayce Thompson, who bounced around eight different organizations between Dodger stints and emerged as a second-half surprise upon his return in June.

James Outman might be The Athletic’s Keith Law’s pick to be the everyday center fielder.

The non-roster options include players with big-league experience, including former Gold Glover Jason Heyward, Bradley Zimmer and Steven Duggar, each of whom could play their way into stronger consideration.

Miguel Vargas is expected to play second base.

Most of Miguel Vargas’ experience in the minor leagues has come as a third baseman, but Los Angeles heads into the season planning to use Vargas mostly at second base, with Max Muncy instead manning the hot corner. The new rules limiting defensive shifts factored into the Dodgers’ decision, and GM Brandon Gomes also cited Vargas athleticism as a reason for his usage at this relatively (Vargas has played 28 games at second base in the minors) new position. “Vargas is our second- or third-fastest guy on the team, which is probably not appreciated at all,” Gomes told’s Juan Toribio and other reporters. “So he’s also a good athlete. It’s more about getting him reps and getting his feel at second base. I think a combination of it all is really strong.”


Kyle Harrison is already throwing 95 mph.

“I’ve known him for a couple of years now,” Webb said. “He’s a great kid. You’re going to love him. He works really, really hard. He’s already throwing 95 [mph], which I told him he shouldn’t be throwing 95 yet. You want to say he’s going to come in and surprise people, but he’s not going to surprise anybody because he’s going to come in and do exactly what we think he’s going to do. I’m super excited to see that. It’s cool to talk to him about baseball and stuff because you think he’d played 10 years in the big leagues already. That’s the reason why I think he’s going to be so special.”

Baseball America reported he peaked at 97 mph and BaseballHQ had him at 93-95 mph. The 95 mph stated doesn’t say if it’s a sitting or a max value, but it seems to be in the range of previous outcomes.


Fernando Tatis Jr. says he’s close to being 100%.

Regarding his shoulder and wrist, Tatis says he’s “as close to 100 percent as I’ve been in the last two years.” That’s notable, because even during the 2021 season, he played through multiple subluxations of his left shoulder. Toward the end of the year, the Padres actively sought measures to keep Tatis as healthy as possible. They curtailed his aggressive baserunning. They moved him from shortstop to the outfield.

Ha-Seong Kim 김하성 will play second base.

While Tatis’ position has not been fully determined, fellow shortstop Ha-Seong Kim said he has been told he will mostly play second base this year.

• The team is still talking about a possible six-man rotation.

The Padres had success with a six-man rotation early last season, but they also had a much deeper group of starting options.

Their preference remains to enter the season with a six-man rotation. But with a five-deep group of starters right now — including Seth Lugo and Nick Martinez, who are converting back to the rotation from the bullpen — that would require either another addition or a Minor League pitcher winning a job.

I’ve already written up Martinez

His repertoire is a perfect example of someone violating the Yu Darvish rule. He needs to simplify the mix. The change and cutter are near elite and should be thrown about two-thirds of the time.

One interesting note on Martinez. He had almost the exact same season as Kodai Senga did in Japan before coming to the states.

Stat: Martinez, Senga
Season: 2021, 2022
Age: 30, 29
IP: 149, 148
K/9: 8.8, 9.7
BB/9: 2.3, 3.0
HR/9: 0.4, 0.4
ERA: 1.62, 1.89
WHIP: 1.03, 1.04

Senga is going over 200 picks earlier (207 ADP), so I’m not sure which one is improperly valued.

I could see a path for Martinez to improve (fewer walks and pitch types) but it’s going to take a few steps.

and Lugo this offseason.

The prospects of Lugo, as a starter, are disappointing. The last time he started was for seven 2020 starts. As a starter that year, he posted a 3.12 xFIP with a 93.3 mph fastball and averaged just under 4 IP per start. As a reliever, he posted a 2.76 xFIP with a 94.9 mph fastball. He was effective but the velocity drop is a little worrying.

One point everyone seems to be making about Lugo is that he throws five different pitches. The deal is that his curve (13% SwStr%, 51% GB%) and four-seamer (9% SwStr%, 49% GB% ) are maybe league average. The rest are garbage. He’s going to have issues navigating a lineup a second or third time.

I have no feel for who the sixth starter will be. I’m not even sure Lugo and Martinez are decent options.


Mitch Keller is adding a gyro slider.

This offseason, by contrast, Keller hasn’t needed to prioritize velocity or delivery. Instead, he is emphasizing pitch design. In addition to working on his sinker and sweeping slider, Keller is refining his gyro slider, a pitch he believes he can use against left-handed hitters.

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

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1 year ago

Dave Roberts is such a friggin’ clown.