Mining the News (3/1/23)

• Anyone with an Athletic subscription, read this entire article. Great stuff from the beat writers on fantasy-relevant topics for each team. I included a couple of them below.

American League


Patrick Sandoval plans on throwing his change more.

Sandoval said he plans to use the changeup more this season, as he still believes it’s his best offering when he has a feel for it.

“It’s huge,” Sandoval said. “It’s my best pitch, and I need it every outing. It’s something that really works with the fastball and the slider.”

His change is one of the best in the game with a career 25% SwStr% and 48% GB%.

Andrew Velazquez will quit switch hitting … again.

Shortstop Andrew Velazquez said early in spring that he planned to remain a switch-hitter this season after briefly hitting exclusively right-handed late last season. But after facing live pitching this spring, Velazquez decided he felt more comfortable hitting from the right side.


Evan White will start the season in AAA.

Mariners first baseman Evan White is healthy and even hit a home run in today’s spring action (Twitter link with video from the club). But Ryan Divish of The Seattle Times reports that the team wants him to get everyday action in Triple-A Tacoma to start the season.


Bruce Zimmermann is “differentiating” his fastballs and trying to improve his curveball.

First, Zimmermann focused on differentiating his four-seam and two-seam fastballs in an attempt to better separate them as unique offerings. Then, he readjusted his slider grip to one he had used in the past to get more shape on the pitch, which should help induce more swings and misses. Finally, he worked on improving his curveball so he doesn’t have to rely on his changeup as much in spots where he’d like to throw an offspeed pitch.

• Brandon Hyde gave some clarification on the infield. Just read it, I’d almost have to copy it word for word, again, to explain it.

Urías, who is expected to serve in a utility bench role in 2023, will instead spend all of his time this spring at either second base or third base, where he won an American League Gold Glove Award last year. Urías started at the hot corner for his Grapefruit League debut on Monday, going 1-for-2 with an RBI single and making a nice play on a grounder for the game’s first out.

With Henderson and Urías likely to cover the available time at third — and Adam Frazier and Urías combining to handle second — Hyde plans on playing Mateo exclusively at shortstop “for right now.”

Red Sox

Garrett Whitlock might not be ready for Opening Day.


Jackson Kowar has solid velocity and a Devin Williams’s changeup.

A former fringe top-100 prospect, he’s struggled mightily at the major-league level, posting a 10.76 ERA (yes, 10.76) in 46 career innings across the past two seasons. But reports out of camp suggest his velocity is solid and his changeup has been likened to that of Milwaukee’s Devin Williams. It’s early, of course, and Royals never want to close the door on a potential starting pitcher.

Kower’s lack of control is the real issue as seen by his 6.1 BB/9 and 2.2 HR/9.

White Sox

• Another statement that the team will not go into the season with a set closer.

Pedro Grifol, who picked up his first win as White Sox manager, said his team would not open the ‘23 season with a set closer. Liam Hendriks, one of the top closers in the game, is receiving treatment for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and the White Sox won’t address his playing status until Opening Day at the earliest.

“Absolutely not,” Grifol said. “That’s not how we are going to run it, unless Liam Hendriks is back.”

The White Sox feature successful high-leverage relievers in Reynaldo López, Kendall Graveman, Aaron Bummer and Joe Kelly, which is good depth to have, per Grifol.

“Opening Day, they are all going to be available. Second day, not all of them will be available. Third day, not all of them are going to be,” Grifol said. “In reality, you need a few of those leverage guys.

National League


• It’s all rainbows and unicorns with Jack Flaherty.

It’s been four seasons since Flaherty dazzled the league as one of the top rising arms in the sport. But he enters spring with both his velocity and pitch makeup consistent to where they were pre-oblique tear two years ago and the Cardinals feel confident betting on him this year.


Patrick Wisdom, Trey Mancini, and Mike Tauchman are being considered as right-field replacements for Seiya Suzuki.

In the meantime, Ross floated three names as potential replacements for Suzuki in right field: Patrick Wisdom, Trey Mancini and Mike Tauchman. Ross mentioned Wisdom before he was scratched from Monday’s split-squad lineup in Scottsdale due to “left groin soreness.” Mancini signed a two-year, $14 million contract with the expectation that he would get regular playing time as a designated hitter, a first baseman and a corner outfielder, utilizing the flexibility he showed with the Baltimore Orioles and as a trade-deadline rental for the Houston Astros during their last World Series run. Tauchman, who played at William Fremd High School in suburban Chicago and Bradley University, has a strong relationship with Cubs director of hitting Justin Stone. Perhaps the Cubs could catch lightning in a bottle with Tauchman, the way the New York Yankees did in 2019, when the left-handed hitter generated 13 home runs and 18 doubles in less than 300 plate appearances.


Ha-Seong Kim 김하성 is working on generating more power.

One topic of interest has been a slightly altered swing that features a more pronounced leg kick. Kim is seeking to reduce his popup rate and tap into more of the power that helped him hit 30 home runs in his final season in the Korea Baseball Organization.

“It was more of an improvement from last year,” Kim said. “It’s more compact, more simplifying my mechanics so that I’ll be more consistent at bat in the season.”


• The team is acting like Jack Suwinski will be the starting center fielder.

The Pirates fielded an Opening Day caliber lineup Monday for their Grapefruit League game against the Phillies. It included a new and interesting outfield alignment — Bryan Reynolds in left field, Jack Suwinski in center and Andrew McCutchen in right.

It could be the dawn of Suwinski emerging as the everyday center fielder.

Roansy Contreras won’t get shut down this season because of innings. Additionally, he is trying to add a changeup.

As far as an innings limit, general manager Ben Cherington said the team does not “want to put any sort of artificial harness on it.” The Pirates might use alternative methods to manage Contreras’ workloads, but a full shutdown seems unlikely. Contreras, for his part, knows the Pirates expect him to take on an increased workload.

“That was part of my routine and preparation in the offseason, to make sure I can do that this year, go from the beginning to the end healthy,” Contreras said.

Contreras’ evolution as a pitcher will also hinge on the development of his changeup, a pitch that is still in its infancy.

The right-hander’s changeup accounted for only 2.9 percent of his pitches in 2022, and when he did throw it, he struggled with command. The sample size on the results is too small to be conclusive, but opponents were 3-for-9 with a home run against Contreras’ changeup.

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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20 days ago

Jeff – You’re doing yeoman’s work with these. Thank you so much for the info!