Mining the News (3/20/24)

American League

Angels

• The team is considering Andrew Wantz as part of their rotation.

“Those three lefties we have [Tyler Anderson, Reid Detmers and Patrick Sandoval], they have the ability to shut games down,” Washington said. “And you got [Griffin] Canning and [Chase] Silseth and [Andrew] Wantz, I mean we have guys who are able to shut offenses down. … If we can get ‘em out there keeping the opponent to two or three runs every night, we’re in good shape.”

In 117 IP over three seasons, Wantz has a 3.85 ERA, 9.5 K/9, and 1.15 WHIP. He features a 94-mph fastball and slider (14% SwStr%) while mainly throwing out of the bullpen.

José Soriano’s role is not yet set.

Right-handers Chase Silseth and José Soriano will both pitch in Minor League action on Thursday’s off-day. Silseth remains on track to be the club’s fifth starter, while the Angels still haven’t decided whether they’ll continue to keep Soriano stretched out or move him back to a relief role. If Soriano remains a starter, he’s expected to open the year in the Minors.

He’ll either start in the minor league rotation or as a long reliever in the majors.

Athletics

Tyler Soderstrom will start in the minors in order to play every day.

Coupled with the unlikelihood of regular playing time in the Majors due to the presence of Langeliers at catcher and Ryan Noda at first base, the A’s felt it would be best for Soderstrom to get regular at-bats in the Minors, where he holds an .857 OPS in three seasons.

“Defensively, the improvements he’s made over the last two years back there have made him into a No. 1-type catcher,” Kotsay said. “The offensive side, with the bat, controlling the strike zone is probably his biggest thing. When he swings at good pitches, he does damage. I think shrinking the zone for him is a big goal and something we’ll pay attention to when he’s in Vegas this year.”

Blue Jays

• If healthy, Bowden Francis will be in the major league rotation.

There’s no mystery to this solution. Bowden Francis gets to run with a big league rotation job, and if he pitches as well as many within the Blue Jays’ organization expect, he could keep it. If that script plays out, Manoah wouldn’t just need to get his body right, he’d need to do enough to win the job back. This is a massive opportunity for Francis.

Kevin Gausman might be skipped the first or second time through the rotation.

Let’s not even call this an “injury.” This was something minor that Gausman felt earlier in camp, but it derailed his schedule and he’s trying to catch up. Gausman threw 23 pitches in a live BP setting Friday in Dunedin and he will get into a game next, but the Blue Jays are in a race against the clock to get him ready in time.

“We’re waiting and seeing,” Schneider said. “We still have to build him up quite a bit, whether he lands at the end of camp at 60 pitches and then he can pitch without overworking and overtaxing our bullpen at the beginning of the year. If it’s at the end of the rotation, that’s probably the best-case scenario.”

Mariners

Dominic Canzone has a leg up on Luke Raley for the left-field job.

How Servais looks utilizes left field — with Canzone and Raley each being lefty hitters — will be worth following. Canzone has been among the best performers this spring, while Raley is still looking to find his footing, now 1-for-23 in Cactus play. The Rays almost exclusively sat Raley against lefties last season, with nearly 90% of his plate appearances coming against righties.

Rangers

Josh Jung should return to action ahead of Corey Seager.

The good news is that [Seager and Jung] can still be ready come Opening Day. Manager Bruce Bochy has said he’s “cautiously optimistic” that will be the case.

“I think Josh for certain, but I don’t want to jump ahead yet to Corey,” general manager Chris Young said, confirming Bochy’s thinking. “I think Josh for certain, I think he’s ahead of where Corey is right now. He’s been able to do more baseball activity, but still cautiously optimistic for Corey, too. If it’s not Opening Day, it’ll be shortly thereafter.”

Jung has been taking live batting practice for about a week now and DH’d in a Minor League game on the back fields in Surprise on Monday. He was the leadoff batter in every inning, and went 2-for-4 with two singles.

Rays

• Some made-up player named Jacob Waguespack is being considered for the rotation.

Waguespack is off to a good start. His fastball velocity has ticked up into the mid-90s, and the Rays believe his four-pitch mix gives him a chance to handle a starting/bulk-inning role, though he’s proven to be versatile enough for just about anything. Cash said he’s been most impressed by Waguespack’s velocity, extension (which makes it seem like the ball is getting to the plate even quicker) and ability to make adjustments with Snyder and Co.

“Easily one of the more improved guys,” Snyder said. “I think it illustrated what Spring Training can be for certain guys.”

Red Sox

Vaughn Grissom won’t return until mid to late April.

Connor Wong reworked his swing this offseason.

That said, Connor Wong’s red-hot spring, which continued in Monday afternoon’s 5-2 loss to the Twins with his second two-run homer in as many days, could be a sign that the offensive adjustments he made in the offseason will make him into a better all-around player.

“He’s made adjustments,” manager Alex Cora said. “It started towards the end of the [2023] season. And in the offseason, [hitting coach] Pete [Fatse] came down here to Fort Myers. They started cleaning up a few things with the leg kick and all that.

“I think he’s in a good spot. He’s hitting the ball hard. There’s more conviction behind the swing. If that happens, then we go from a decent offensive team to a really good one.”

• Again, Josh Winckowski will pitch out of the bullpen.

Prior to Sunday’s split-squad contest against the Yankees, manager Alex Cora announced that righty Josh Winckowski was taken out of the rotation competition and moved to the bullpen for a multi-inning role.

• The team is considering Cooper Criswell as a rotation option.

Instead of four pitchers vying for the fourth and fifth spots, the derby is down to three. Out of Houck, Garrett Whitlock and Cooper Criswell, only one will be left out of the rotation.

Twins

Carlos Santana is expected to play every game.

When facing right-handed pitchers, expect to see both Santana and Kirilloff in the lineup, typically with Santana at first base and Kirilloff at designated hitter. When facing left-handed pitchers, Kirilloff will likely often be on the bench in favor of a right-handed hitter, while Santana will remain in the lineup. In fact, based on spring usage, Santana may be the Twins’ leadoff man versus lefties.

Louie Varland is now in the MLB rotation.

DeSclafani’s status affects Louie Varland, who would likely be the pick to take his spot in the rotation if needed. It could also change the Twins’ plans for the last bullpen spot if they feel more multi-inning coverage is necessary. However, the early-season schedule could buy DeSclafani a bit more time to get healthy, potentially allowing the Twins to skip the No. 5 starter twice.

With scheduled off days following the Twins’ first, third and sixth games, they could easily avoid using a fifth starter until the 10th game, April 9 versus the Dodgers in Los Angeles.

• The team has stated they consider Griffin Jax and Brock Stewart as closing options with Jhoan Duran hurt.

But even with Duran and Thielbar sidelined, the Twins have a strong relief crop to work with, thanks to a number of offseason acquisitions, including Justin Topa (via trade) and Jay Jackson (free agency).

Falvey mentioned guys like Griffin Jax — who dominated in 2023 and spent the spring developing his secondary pitches, and Brock Stewart — who Falvey said, “has a chance to really pitch well towards the back end,” — as players who have stepped up this spring.

“There are a lot of guys in the mix right now,” Baldelli said. “The multi-inning component, it was important before and it’s still very important. We are going to need guys to go out there and throw two or three innings at a time in order for us to win and to stabilize our group over a stretch of games.

White Sox

Garrett Crochet will be the Opening Day starter.

White Sox left-hander Garrett Crochet came into 2024 looking to move from the bullpen to the rotation. Not only will he break camp as a starter, but the Sox announced that Crochet will take the ball on Opening Day.

National League

Diamondbacks

Ryne Nelson, Tommy Henry, and Bryce Jarvis are being considered for the last rotation spot.

Henry started off the spring hot, but has not pitched as well in his last few outings while Nelson has shown some improvement with his slider, a pitch the D-backs wanted him to work on this offseason.

Jarvis’ numbers don’t jump out — 9.82 ERA in four games — but he looked nasty in his last spring outing.

D-backs manager Torey Lovullo has not said if one of the three pitchers who do not get the fifth spot would be used as a potential long man in the bullpen, but it’s a role that might suit Jarvis.

Dodgers

Kyle Hurt will start the season in the bullpen.

Giants

• Before the team signed Blake Snell, they considered Mason Black to be one of the top four rotation options.

Without locking in the order, Melvin on Sunday confirmed a rotation of Webb, lefty Kyle Harrison and righty Jordan Hicks, along with No. 8 prospect Mason Black, a righty who will pitch a Minor League game at Papago Park on Tuesday.

Alex Cobb plans to return around May 1st.

Righty Alex Cobb struck out five and allowed no hits or walks over two innings in his 27-pitch Minor League outing Saturday. But he continues to recover from offseason surgery on his left hip, and Melvin said on Sunday that he doesn’t expect Cobb to be ready for Opening Day. Look for Cobb’s return around May 1, at the earliest, though he should get into one more spring game in Arizona.

Marlins

• With all the injuries, the team is considering Bryan Hoeing as a rotation option.

In addition to Meyer, Chirinos, and Smeltzer, McPherson mentions Bryan Hoeing as another possibility for the Marlins rotation. Like Meyer, Hoeing is already on the 40-man roster; unlike Meyer, Hoeing is still in big league camp. Hoeing doesn’t have Meyer’s upside, and he profiles more as a long man out of the bullpen. Still, he’ll be capable of eating innings until Meyer is ready for a call-up or one of the injured arms is ready to return.

Phillies

Johan Rojas is struggling as he reworks his swing.

“Right now, I don’t care about the results,” Rojas said late last week. “Of course, if I had good results, it’s great. But right now, I’m focusing on the process of everything. I feel like I’m learning a lot of new stuff. I don’t feel like the player that I was last year. Once I feel it click — the new things that I’m getting used to — everything else is going to come with it. The best version of myself is going to follow.”

Rojas is trying to be the Phillies’ everyday center fielder. It is a job they said he must earn, but it is one they want him to win. But Rojas is batting only .171 (7-for-41) with one double, two triples, four RBIs and a .483 OPS in 42 Grapefruit League plate appearances. He went 0-for-3 with a strikeout in Monday’s 4-3 split-squad loss to the Yankees in Tampa.

“We haven’t made any decisions, but he is improving,” Phillies manager Rob Thomson said Monday. “We’re going to talk here in the next couple days as a group and try to figure out what’s best for him, and then we’ll go from there.”

Pirates

Domingo Germán is not yet at 100%.

The Pirates have some question marks at the back end of their rotation, and while Germán feels he is at about “80 percent” right now, he will not be ready to join the team in Miami for Opening Day on March 28.

The plan is for Germán to spend two or three weeks in camp so the team can better understand what resources they feel he needs for his recovery.

Reds

Nick Martinez is in the rotation.

 





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.

7 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
TheBabbomember
2 months ago

Not aware of any health concerns regarding Bowden Francis, and not finding any reporting that suggests there are – threw 4.2 innings today against the Braves (though gave up 4 ER).
As for D-backs, with the apparent Eduardo Rodriguez injury looks like Ryne Nelson should be safe in the rotation with the others fighting for the fifth spot.

Rollie's Mustachemember
2 months ago
Reply to  TheBabbo

Yep, news today that Francis made the rotation and is slated to pitch the 4th game against the Rays on Sunday afternoon.