Mining the News (4/18/24)

Akron Beacon Journal

American League

Blue Jays

Yariel Rodriguez is working with a pitch limit and won’t go long into games. He could end up in a tandem with Bowden Francis.

With a pitch limit of 70 or so, Rodríguez worked until two outs into the fourth inning, when he ended his outing with a called strikeout on Rockies second baseman Brendan Rodgers. In all, Rodríguez allowed four hits — including a solo homer by centre fielder Brenton Doyle — along with two walks and six strikeouts.

Coming out of the bullpen for the first time this season, Bowden Francis took over in the fourth inning. Combined with Rodríguez, they allowed just three runs over six innings — what a club is generally looking for from a traditional starter.

The Blue Jays hinted at using Rodríguez and Francis as a piggybacking tandem, and given the results this time around, it’s a strategy the club can turn to again, though Francis can also be used in spots out of the bullpen in the games between, too.

“We’re gonna build him up a little bit, but it’s not going to be, again, outrageous to where we’re really pushing him, six, seven, eight innings, things like that,” Schneider said. “Things could change, for sure, based on how he’s feeling and how he’s doing, but I think we’re going to play the long game a little bit.”

Guardians

• The new manager seems to prefer riding the hot hand.

We’re still learning how Stephen Vogt works as a manager, but so far, it seems like he’s not afraid to ride the hot hand. After Estevan Florial hit two homers this past weekend against the Yankees, he was in the starting lineup Monday in Boston. When Arias started to heat up over the weekend, he was in the starting lineup Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. So, in short, yes. If Arias is hitting, it seems like they’ll find ways to keep him in the lineup, and that could be at first, third or shortstop. If Brayan Rocchio is struggling at the plate, there’s no reason not to give Arias more turns at short.

Triston McKenzie was close to having elbow surgery.

Triston McKenzie faced the most significant decision of his career over a long weekend last June. Instead of studying scouting reports and fine-tuning his curveball, the Cleveland Guardians right-hander was assessing the humeral head in his right arm and mulling elbow surgery and the potential for two lost seasons in the prime of his career.

McKenzie essentially had two options after consulting with three doctors about the torn ligament in his pitching elbow: surgery or rest and rehab.

He’s still wondering if he made the right call.

Ten months after he first suffered the tear, McKenzie insists he feels no pain. But his shaky results on the mound have everyone wondering where this will lead, especially given the plague of pitching injuries that has already breached Cleveland’s clubhouse.

Orioles

Albert Suárez 수아레즈 is out of options so he will need to stay in the majors or pass through waivers.

He’s spent the past two seasons with the KBO’s Samsung Lions, recording a 3.04 ERA in 281 2/3 innings over the life of 48 starts. In 15 1/3 innings to begin his 2024 season with the Tides, Suarez has posted an ugly 5.87 ERA but a very intriguing 17-to-1 K/BB ratio.

It could be a short stay on the 40-man roster for him as well, depending on how the team’s rotation plans play out. Suarez is out of minor league options, so he can’t be sent back down to Norfolk without first clearing waivers. Regardless, it’ll be a rewarding and gratifying moment for a 34-year-old righty who has undoubtedly wondered at times whether he’d ever return to the majors.

In AAA, his pitches produced good results with his fastball averaging 95 mph.

Pitch: SwStr% (# thrown)
Four-seam: 15% (117)
Cutter: 17% (60)
Change: 5% (40)
Curve: 12% (25)

The team does expect him to remain in the rotation for a while.

It shouldn’t take nearly as long for Suárez to take a big league mound again. Hyde said he envisions the righty getting additional starts as the Orioles move forward without three key members of their pitching staff.

Kyle Bradish is at 44 pitchers and his fastball averaged 95 mph in his first rehab start.

Bradish faced 10 batters and gave up only one hit. He struck out four while throwing 44 pitches (26 strikes). His fastball was hitting 95-96 mph on the radar gun at Prince George’s Stadium.

John Means should be activated in late April or early May.

Before Bradish rejoins Baltimore, the team should add Means to its staff. The 30-year-old left-hander is scheduled to make his fourth rehab start for Triple-A Norfolk on Wednesday night at Jacksonville and is getting closer to being activated by the O’s in either late April or early May.

Red Sox

Wilyer Abreu will be on the strong side of a platoon for now.

Tigers

• The team has no plans to demote the struggling Parker Meadows (.077/.234/.205).

Although Meadows’ struggles have been concerning, do not expect the Tigers to send him back to the minors in the near future. General manager Scott Harris has talked at length about giving young players “runway.” Hinch gave Meadows a day off to start the series, in part to give Meadows a mental break and in part because reverse-split right-hander Michael Lorenzen was on the mound.

“I know he thinks he belongs here,” Hinch said. “I know he thinks he’s a big-leaguer, and he should, because he is.”

White Sox

Eloy Jiménez is “fine” but might not be able to run.

There was talk of Jiménez going to Triple-A Charlotte for an injury rehab assignment. But Jiménez felt close enough to ready to stay with the big league squad after going through a live batting practice session against injured reliever John Brebbia on Saturday.

“With what I have right now, I can help the team,” Jiménez said. “To me, it’s fine. These couple days, these three days, I feel pretty good. I’ve been running, I’ve been running the bases, hitting. And I feel good.”

“From our perspective, his live BP the other day was enough for him,” Grifol said. “He’s been taking good rounds of batting practice. He saw about 25 or 30 pitches from Brebbia the other day and at some point you have to get in there and start seeing pitches in real games.”

A real test of Jiménez’s recovery could come from running the bases at full tilt. Jiménez couldn’t provide a definitive answer on how he would approach those situations, even feeling good and close to 100 percent.

National League

Cardinals

Pitch Com kicked Kyle Gibson and Willson Contreras’s asses.

As it turns out, the Cards were undone on Saturday by their pitcher and catcher’s inability to quickly get on the same page at the game’s biggest moment.

“When Willie and I are on the same page and I’m not shaking [off pitch selections], it’s easy to forget where the buttons are on the transmitter,” Gibson said candidly. “The couple of times when we had issues, I was trying to find the pitch I wanted, and I kept hitting the wrong button.

“I had to step off because I wasn’t finding the right pitch. Willie called slider and I wanted to throw a sinker. Sometimes, just say yes to your catcher and move on. He did a good job all night and was right on it. I messed up and shook to the wrong pitch.”

Cubs

Jordan Wicks is throwing a new four-seam fastball.

As far as the metrics of the four-seamer go, it’s a complete shift so far in 2024. According to the Statcast data, Wicks has 1.3 inches of movement better than the average four-seamer thrown at a similar velocity, or about 9 percent better than others. Last year it was 0.4 inches fewer than the average four-seamer, about 3 percent worse than average. He’s not quite elite — Shota Imanaga is among the best, and Mariners starter Bryce Miller is as well as he showed Friday night — but that type of movement can completely change how Wicks attacks hitters. And it has.

Dodgers

• It will be a while before Jason Heyward returns from the IL.

Heyward’s status is also now unclear, as the veteran outfielder suffered a setback in his return from a lower back injury that has bothered him since Spring Training. Heyward was only scheduled to miss a week or two, but it’s looking like a lengthier stint on the IL.

Landon Knack will make at least one more start.

Roberts said Knack will stay in the Dodgers’ rotation at least one more time through. His next time out, however, the Dodgers’ offense hopes to help the right-hander much more than they did on Wednesday.

Marlins

Jazz Chisholm Jr.’s shoulder is bothering him.

Mets

José Buttó should remain in the rotation for a while.

Because, unlike his first start in the doubleheader against Detroit, Buttó can stick around for a while this time. That time, Buttó had to be sent back down as a 27th man not yet eligible to be promoted. Now he’s slated to stick in the rotation until Megill or Senga returns.

“He’s not going anywhere,” Mendoza said. “He’ll continue to get the ball.”

Nationals

Jesse Winker is finally healthy.

Recurrent mobility issues in his neck really caught up with Winker when he was with the Mariners in 2022, leading him to undergo disc replacement surgery during that offseason, in addition to a procedure on his left meniscus. The recovery proved difficult, and with back issues landing him on the injured list twice, Winker was limited to 61 games, in which he batted .199 with a .567 OPS.

“I’m proud of him,” said Martinez. “… The injury slowed him down a little bit, but he got back, had a good winter, worked really hard to get in shape, and he looks good right now and he’s trying to help us win games.”

Mitchell Parker hopes to throw his splitter more in the future.

[Mitchell Parker] relied mostly on his four-seamer/curveball combination, though in the later frames he started sprinkling in his splitter, a pitch he hopes to continue honing in the future.





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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Jorge Soler vs Train (UNEXPECTED)member
1 month ago

Eloy Jimenez has entered into the conversation of “needs a courtesy runner” while he’s in the batter’s box