Mining the News (3/23/22)

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

American League


Seth Brown is not expected to play first base and the outfield is up for grabs.

Seth Brown, who backed up Olson with a handful of games there last season, seems like an ideal replacement. However, A’s manager Mark Kotsay indicated that Brown is being looked at as more of an outfielder to this point. That leaves the competition down to three players in camp as non-roster invitees: Eric Thames 테임즈, Dalton Kelly and Billy McKinney.

There’s also uncertainty with the corner-outfield spots. Left field could see a left-right platoon formed between Brown and Chad Pinder. The A’s might also need Brown or Pinder to shift over to right field, as Stephen Piscotty has been dealing with a shoulder issue in camp and has yet to appear in a Cactus League game. If Piscotty’s injury lingers to the point where he’s not available for Opening Day, the door could open for Skye Bolt or Buddy Reed to nab a spot on the roster.


• The Mariners will start the season without a defined closer.

Barring a late — and significant — acquisition, the Mariners will enter 2022 without a clear, defined closer. That, according to Servais, is by design.

“We’ll have a number of guys who will finish off games for us,” the skipper said.

One of those guys in the mix figures to be right-hander Ken Giles, who has not yet appeared in a regular-season game for Seattle since signing a two-year pact last offseason. Giles is working his way back from Tommy John surgery during camp and has ramped up his fastball as high as 95 mph in recent live batting practice sessions.


Anthony Santander is not yet 100% healthy.

“I’d say I’m probably 90 percent there, and it’s been great getting back into the swing of things here in Spring Training,” Santander said through O’s interpreter Brandon Quinones.

The 27-year-old was an American League Gold Glove Award finalist in 2020, but his injury history is also well-documented, the most severe of which was a lat strain that prematurely ended what was growing into a breakout 2020 campaign.

Last year was unfortunately no different, as hamstring, ankle and knee injuries kept him from playing fully healthy from April 20 until he was ultimately shut down Sept. 28.

Santander returned home in the offseason, shed 10 pounds and worked on his defense, both activities he said were “big points of emphasis.” Will it be enough to wipe the slate clean?


Jon Gray, Martín Pérez, Dane Dunning, and Taylor Hearn are locks for the rotation.

Rotation (5): Jon Gray, Martín Pérez, Dane Dunning, Taylor Hearn, Spencer Howard

“There’s four that are pretty solidified,” Woodward said. “They still gotta prove it, though, there are no guarantees there. Especially with Dane and Taylor. They’re young starters, they still have to go out and prove it … As far as the fifth goes, it’s an open competition … if I do have an idea of who’s leading, it’s not by much. And listen, there’s not much to go off of — we haven’t really seen them.”


Brady Singer is wanting to develop his changeup more.

For Brady Singer, his task was furthering the development of his changeup. And that’s what he did, throwing the pitch every day he played catch while working in the Tampa area.

Here are the comps to last season’s changeup.

It’s not good when bad sinkers get lumped in. Hopefully, he reworked the pitch a ton.


Ryan Jeffers has reworked his batting stance.

Jeffers showed up to camp with a new, more relaxed batting stance featuring much lower hands — almost close to his belt line — before he begins his stride. He feels much more comfortable and adaptable at the plate, he says, after having felt “lost” for stretches of last season without ways to figure out exactly what was off about his approach.


Luis Severino has added a cutter to his pitch mix.

Severino also threw six changeups, five sliders, and five cutters, a pitch he began throwing in games when he returned to the mound in September. One of those five cutters, Severino noted, wound up in the seats when Robbie Grossman squared it up for a home run. Regardless, it’s a pitch he says he intends to use in the regular season again, in addition to his three primary pitches.

National League


• It looks like Huascar Ynoa isn’t a lock for an early-season rotation spot.

Does Kyle Wright beat out Huascar Ynoa for the 4-5 rotation spot?
— @coachelkins706

Let’s just start by saying Charlie Morton, Max Fried and Ian Anderson are the only three projected locks for the Opening Day rotation. With Ynoa possibly given extra time to prepare after ending last year with a sore shoulder, the top candidates for the final two rotation spots are currently Wright, Kyle Muller, Touki Toussaint and Tucker Davidson.

Ynoa only threw 101 IP last season, so the Braves might limit his innings so he can possibly pitch in the postseason.


Adrian Houser is working on improving his changeup and slider and hopefully will throw more strikes.

Adrian Houser: Offspeed

“I think it would be a mix for me of just refining the changeup and the slider. I’ve been kind of changing the grip on the slider and changeup this offseason, and I think we’re heading in the right direction with it. I’m just getting some numbers on it here, finally, getting some feedback on it and going from there and kind of fine-tuning those. [That feedback from tracking technology] is huge. You know if you’re on it right or not, and when you do feel the good one, it’s like, ‘OK, what was that one?’ And you kind of get that feel and replicate that. I tried to do a little bit of that in the offseason, but the Rapsodo didn’t work where I was at, so it’s nice to get here and get some numbers on it. It’s the vertical movement and the horizontal movement, trying to get the slider and the changeup to be less vertical, have more depth to them.

“I think it would help with the walks.”

His changeup was pathetic (6% SwStr%, 51% GB%) while his slider was decent (13% SwStr%, 35% GB%). He should also work on his curveball (9% SwStr%, 52% GB%).


Chris Taylor is being limited to DH because of surgery on his elbow.

On Monday, Roberts mentioned that Chris Taylor has been limited to a designated hitter role so far this spring because the utility man underwent a minor procedure on his right elbow. Taylor said the elbow was bothering him at the end of last season.

“It was like wear and tear over the years,” Taylor said. “But it was definitely like something that was bothering me more in September and October.”

Taylor remains on a throwing program so far this spring, but Roberts said Taylor will play second base in a Cactus League game in the near future. Taylor signed a four-year, $60 million deal with the Dodgers in December.


Trevor Rogers has a revamped slider and his fastball was sitting between 94 and 96 mph.

Rogers spent the past month and a half playing around with the new grip, but he finally had a chance to test it out on Sunday afternoon against Triple-A Nationals hitters on a back field at the Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium complex. Across two innings, he threw the slider seven times. The pitch showed nice sweeping action late, with good pace and break. Overall, Rogers allowed a solo homer and struck out two looking. Of his 30 pitches, 19 were for strikes. His fastball velocity ranged from 94-96 mph.

Elieser Hernandez bulked up and is trying to throw his changeup more.

Hernandez, who was on the 60-day injured list twice in 2021, bulked up a bit in order to add strength and be healthy in ’22. Just like last Spring Training, his focus lies in developing his changeup. Of his 32 pitches, Hernandez threw it five times, recording two whiffs and one called strike.

“I feel very well,” Hernandez said via an interpreter. “I’m very excited to bring my changeup back, and I’ve got to keep it for the rest of the season.”

His changeup’s comps stick out and I like its potential going forward.


Tylor Megill is adding a cut fastball.

So Megill worked this offseason to develop another pitch: a cut fastball, which he believes can keep left-handed hitters more off-kilter than the changeup alone ever could.


Cade Cavalli will likely see time in the majors, just not right away.

Shifting from veterans to prospects, highly-touted right-hander Cade Cavalli made his Spring Training in dominating fashion. Cavalli, ranked the Nats’ No. 1 prospect per MLB Pipeline, struck out six of his 10 batters faced while allowing one hit (a double) and no walks in two scoreless innings.

Washington selected Cavalli with the 22nd overall pick in the 2017 MLB Draft. Last season, he rose from High-A to Triple-A while leading all Minor League players in strikeouts across 123 1/3 innings. Cavalli could join the Nationals’ starting rotation during this season, but the club is not going to rush his big league debut with only one year of pro-level experience.

César Hernández will hit leadoff.

Martinez offered an early hint at his potential Opening Day lineup, saying he likes the idea of new second baseman César Hernández leading off in front of Juan Soto, with Nelson Cruz slotting into the three spot. Martinez cited Hernandez’s on-base ability (career .345 OBP) as the reason, stressing the need for him to have a bounceback year in that department. Hernandez slumped to a career-low .308 OBP last season (in full-time duty), despite hitting a career-high 21 home runs with Cleveland and Chicago.


Luke Voit will play DH against righties and first base against lefties. Eric Hosmer will ride the pine for nine against lefties.

In San Diego, Voit is expected to fill the DH role, only playing first base on occasion, presumably against left-handers when Eric Hosmer would slide to the bench.

“DH, play first — I’m just excited to do whatever I can to help the team,” Voit said. “I feel healthy, so I’m ready to go out there with no distractions. Just go out there, and be myself.”

• The Padres are looking to use Robert Suarez as their closer with Dinelson Lamet getting some high-leverage chances.

Right-hander Robert Suarez, who had 42 saves at a 1.16 ERA for Hanshin of the Japan Central League last season, is the presumed leading candidate for the closer’s role after signing a two-year, $11 million contract in December, but nothing is set.

Suarez is a severe ground-ball thrower. He did not give up a homer in 62 1/3 innings last season while striking out 58 and walking eight.

“You look at his ground-ball rate, you kind of look where he pitches [in the strike zone],” Padres manager Bob Melvin said on Sunday. “He throws a lot of strikes. We have to see where we think that fits as well.”

Melvin has spoken to Dinelson Lamet about a role at the back end of the bullpen.

“We’re willing to look at anything, so I did want to mention that to him,” Melvin said.


• With Odúbel Herrera hurt, Matt Vierling is the Phillies center fielder.

It puts Matt Vierling in the driver’s seat for the job in center. But the options are few behind Vierling, if Herrera is sidelined.

“I really believe that Vierling had a chance to take this and run with this,” Girardi said. “So he’s going to get a chance. You’ll see Haseley out there more. We’ll see what happens.”


Mitch Keller has taken a major step forward.

The raw data was as tantalizing as the visuals. Per Hayes, Tread Athletics’ database revealed that Keller has four “plus” pitches in terms of movement, spin and velocity. Based on the data from his second bullpen, Keller’s comparison was Gerrit Cole. Some of Keller’s pitches even graded out better than Cole. Keller enjoyed seeing his name next to one of the game’s finest, but understands that turning those outliers into averages is what matters most.

“It’s cool to see the comps, but with comps like that, that’s exactly what it is: a comparison,” Keller said. “To line those up with him, it’s really cool, but consistency is the key there. He brings consistency every single day with those types of numbers. That’s what I’m striving to get to.”

Keller, who revealed that he is working on incorporating a slurve, has flashed top-of-the-rotation stuff, but he has yet to put it all together. His career ERA stands at 6.02 across 39 starts. Before exiting his first Spring Training start on Saturday after getting hit in the thigh by a line drive, though, Keller was phenomenal.

Oneil Cruz is still not going to start in the majors while working on his outfield defense.

“I think there’s still development to be had there,” Shelton said. “Oneil is gonna have an impact on our club this year at some point. When that is, I don’t think any of us know. But the fact that he’s gonna play multiple positions, he’s continuing to learn to swing the bat, and there is development there.”

I asked Cruz what he still must do to show management he deserves to be in the lineup on April 7 against the Cardinals. Cruz listened to the translation of the question, paused and then chose his words carefully.

“I feel like I’ve demonstrated a lot, but I guess I’ve just got to continue demonstrating,” Cruz said.

Newman figures to be the Opening Day shortstop for the third year in a row.

That last sentence is just painful.


Luis Castillo’s shoulder is still hurting.

It appears that Reds ace Luis Castillo will not be able to take the ball to pitch on Opening Day and possibly not during the first time through the rotation because of a right shoulder issue.

“I felt a little bit of soreness in my shoulder once we got into training and when I got here,” Castillo said via translator Jorge Merlos. “We’re just working on it to get it better and to be ready for the rest of the season.”

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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2 years ago

How do you find pitchers’ batted ball data on their various pitch types like in the Houser example above (also the Mize example in MTN 3/16)? Thanks!

2 years ago
Reply to  Jeff Zimmerman

Thanks, Jeff!
‘The Process’ has been invaluable this draft-prep season.