Mining the News (3/1/2021)

American League

Blue Jays

Nate Pearson was told before the lockout to prepare to be in the rotation.

Before the lockout, in your end-of-year talks with the team or offseason talks, did they give you any indication of what your role might look like this year? Or was it just like go into the offseason, prepare to be stretched out and we’ll go from there?

Yeah, that was basically it. Just come in, you’re going to come in as a starter and you’re going to provide some depth for us. We’re going to build you up and we’ll see how it goes from there. And that’s exactly how I’m approaching it. I don’t know exactly what my role will be, whether I’ll be in the rotation, or a long-relief guy or bullpen guy. Whatever it may be, just be ready for it. And that’s exactly my mentality and my mindset going into it.

I don’t think he can stay healthy enough to remain in the rotation. He’ll have to transition to the bullpen leading to another up and down summer.

Rays

Tommy Pham would be willing to play some first base, especially for the Rays.

Tommy Pham is one of the many free agents still without a contract for 2022, and the lockout has only added to the uncertainty facing Pham’s market following a pair of underwhelming seasons with the Padres. However, Pham is looking to increase his positional value, with The Tampa Bay Times’ Marc Topkin writing that the veteran outfielder is “open to playing first base if needed.”

Specifically, Pham said he would be interested in playing first base in a second stint with the Rays, as Pham played in Tampa during the 2018-19 seasons. The Rays are known to be looking for a right-handed hitting first base option, and a reunion with Pham would be a creative way of addressing that need.

Red Sox

Garrett Whitlock was told to come into Spring Training to be a starter and the team will adjust from there.

[Whitlock] would love to be a starter again.

“I enjoy starting,” he said. “I love the routine behind it and everything, but at the same time, I’m a competitor. So whenever you tell me to go out there and get outs, I’m going to treat it as if it’s a 0-0 ballgame and I’ve got to bury you and I’ve got to put you away.

“So it doesn’t matter to me whether that’s the first pitch of the game or the ninth inning or anywhere in between.”

Red Sox manager Alex Cora hasn’t asked him to start.

“I’m a Year 2 guy now,” Whitlock said. “I haven’t earned that.”

Before the lockout, the Sox gave him some advice.

“They told me to come in prepared to be, like, fighting for a starting job, and they’ll reevaluate it from there,” he said. “So I’m going to build up and I’m going to go in and be as prepared as I can be.”

His role will likely depend on how many other players the team adds.

Matt Barnes blames several factors for last season’s decline.

Barnes, 31, doesn’t think his problems from last year will linger into the future. He believes a variety of factors contributed to his sharp decline.

“I think it was kind of a perfect storm of scenarios,” he said. “I threw a lot in a short period of time and I think, as a pitcher, you try to create what you had when you were completely fresh. That, in turn, creates bad habits. That happens, then trying to fix it and it felt like we were getting close and I had to sit down for a couple of weeks because I got COVID (Aug. 30-Sept. 17). I then just ran out of time.”

One interesting point is how he was used. His results were all over the place depending on the amount of rest he had (horrible with zero and two days, great with one or three). I wonder if the Red Sox would go with dual closers with Barnes getting 25 or so Saves and another arm accumulating about 10. It’s something to monitor.

Twins

Jim L. states:

Are there analytics around the costs/benefits of a versus a [DH] job-share situation?

With all the respects to Jim, I don’t care about your question, but it did get me to look into the Twins DH usage after Cruz was traded.

Post Nelson Cruz DH Usage
Name Count %
Donaldson 27 53%
Rooker 7 14%
Polanco 6 12%
Sano 5 10%
Arraez 4 8%
Garver 2 4%

That’s a lot of Josh Donaldson. It’ll be interesting to see who gets the starts at third base (e.g. Jose Miranda or Luis Arraez). And more importantly, how often?

National League

Cardinals

Giovanny Gallegos is not the team’s closer according to their GM.

During November’s general manager meetings, Mozeliak indicated the team did not have a set closer in mind for 2022. Gallegos could be a candidate for that role, but it’s unlikely the Cardinals name one until they complete their bullpen. They are expected to add one more reliever after the lockout, preferring an established veteran with experience in a multitude of roles.

Gallegos has an NFBC ADP around 115 which seems a little high considering the uncertainty.

Diamondbacks

Dan Straily 스트레일리 , who signed with the Diamondbacks, revamped his arsenal in Korea.

“I went over there because I had some things to work on,” Straily said. “And I was very aware of that. So I got over there and just went to work on them.”

Straily completely changed his curveball grip, worked on fine-tuning his changeup after watching what was a plus pitch for him flatten out over the years, and developed consistency with his cut fastball.

Here at FanGraphs, we have some pitch data from Korea with his fastball averaging 90.7 mph. It was his highest average since his debut season in 2012 when he sat 91.3 mph.

Mets

• The Mets (and others) might go with a six-man rotation to ramp up their starters.

That training camp was just over three weeks; if we have another one in the three- to four-week range — which seems likely — I wouldn’t be surprised if the Mets (and other teams) adopted a six-man rotation early in the season and/or carried an extra arm in the bullpen for piggybacking purposes. A player like Trevor Williams could be useful in both roles for New York.





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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jay_stellmachmember
8 months ago

Re the Twins’ DH situation: Donaldson hurt his hamstring on 7/28, just a week after the Cruz trade. With Cruz as DH, the Twins were fine running Donaldson out to 3B nearly every day. Yeah, maybe Donaldson may never be fully healthy again and he may DH… a lot, but I don’t think we can necessarily read a lot into their DH lineups from 7/28 on. The maximum I would guess at this point is 50% Donaldson, and I would bet that the Twins hope it is more like 20% Donaldson and they can spread it around as much as possible in order to try to keep multiple hitters fresh and healthy.