Mining the News (7/23/20)

Mining the News in its latest form may be on hiatus for a bit, but don’t fear. The Dark Overlord and I are working on a streamlined option to get everyone the information as quick as possible. The deal is that we can’t implement the change during the busiest week of the year. I’m going to continue to crank out as much content as possible like changes in velocity, pitch mix, and lineups.

Also, deeply insightful news is being hard to come by with reporters not getting 1-on-1 access (only group zoom meetings) and having to fill their required three articles with player movements and game threads. I needed to comb through dozens of articles to find anything useful. I wish there was more to report.

American League

Angels

Matt Andriese has added a cutter and two-seamer.

Right-hander Matt Andriese is slated to be the Angels’ fifth starter and has worked to add a cutter and a two-seam fastball to his pitch mix after mostly serving as a reliever over the last two seasons.

Athletics

Frankie Montas has added velocity.

But perhaps more noticeable than Montas’ body change has been the ease with which he can throw triple-digits. When he began working with Bay, he was in the 95-96 mph range; over the last few weeks, he’s been hitting 101-102 mph, regularly.

Sean Manaea lost his fastball velocity.

Manaea’s fastball, though, didn’t create much of a stir, either. The A’s left-hander never topped 90 mph on any of his 65 pitches in his final outing before his scheduled regular-season debut on Saturday.

Manaea’s fastest pitch in Monday’s exhibition game was 88.3 mph — and Austin Slater promptly crushed that delivery into the left-field corner for a three-run double, the key blow in a 6-2 Giants victory.

Blue Jays

So…

When will we see Nate Pearson?
— @mapleleaf_queen

The best version of this Blue Jays roster would include Pearson from day one, period. A likelier outcome is another young starter taking that No. 5 spot in the rotation for one outing and Pearson taking over for the second trip through.

Royals

Ryan McBroom will be the Royals full-time first baseman.

Ryan McBroom, like he did in Spring Training, looks ready to be a force in the lineup. And he’ll likely be the guy as Ryan O’Hearn remains in isolation. I joked with McBroom on Thursday about being the starter right now, and he wasn’t having any of it: “Too soon; you just never know.”

I like McBroom as a sleeper since he made the age expanded Voit-Muncy list (McBroom is mentioned down in the comments) of older AAA batters who hit the ball in the air hard with good plate discipline.

National League

Braves

Austin Riley has been working on his plate discipline.

“I felt like later in the season I was more focused on trying not to swing at that slider, so I wasn’t catching up to the fastball. I think the biggest thing is staying on that fastball and being able to recognize that slider. I think this swing I’ve made is going to allow me to do that.”

“The mechanics of my swing are a lot cleaner and a lot more consistent,” Riley said. “Not having to worry about that, I can focus on what the pitchers are trying to do to me.”

Brewers

• The backend of the rotation is still undecided.

The outcome will have a domino effect. Last week, the Brewers’ pitchers were lined up like this: Brandon Woodruff, who has been named the Opening Day starter, followed by Anderson and Corbin Burnes the next day. Then comes Josh Lindblom 린드블럼 and Freddy Peralta the day after that, and finally, Adrian Houser. Manager Craig Counsell named only Woodruff and Anderson to start Games 1 and 2, but one can see a rotation taking shape of Woodruff, Anderson, Lindblom and Houser. Burnes or Peralta could piggyback, or one could fill the fifth starter’s spot with the other beginning the regular season in the bullpen. Counsell has left some room for creativity.

Cardinals

Tommy Edman’s playing time and lineup position were up-in-the-air during the offseason, but now he’s batting second and playing third base.

With less than a week before Opening Day against the Pirates at Busch Stadium, the Cardinals fielded a potential starting lineup during Friday’s intrasquad — Kolten Wong at leadoff, Paul Goldschmidt and Paul DeJong stacked at Nos. 3 and 4, respectively. And Carpenter at fifth as the designated hitter. With Carpenter moving to fifth instead of the typical No. 2 and to DH instead of the typical third base, Tommy Edman batted second and played third, giving the Cardinals speed at the top and bottom of the order. That lineup, Cardinals Red, won 2-1 on Carpenter’s two-run homer in the bottom of the second.

Matt Carpenter has been working on improving his swing.

Carpenter spent most of last season searching for his swing and working over the offseason on finding his hitting identity. He wants to hit to all parts of the field like he did early in his career. The work that he did showed some in Spring Training but has become clear in Summer Camp, encouraging the Cardinals as they move him around the lineup. It’s why the lineout to left field was more eye-opening than the homer to the home bullpen — although the quick surge of offense is always a positive.

Cubs

Victor Caratini will be  playing more.

With the addition of the designated hitter, there was already potential for catcher Victor Caratini to see more playing time than a traditional backup. In light of Rizzo’s uncertain status, Caratini could also see an increase in action as Chicago’s temporary first baseman.

He’s a must-own catcher if he’s playing in 60% of the Cubs games.

Kyle Hendricks has been working on his curveball this offseason.

“My curveball, I’ve been working on a ton,” Hendricks said in a recent Zoom chat with reporters. “I worked on it even more during this quarantine. It gave me a lot of time to do that, to kind of mess around a little bit with pressure, just how to spin it, learning how to spin it better.

“Right now, it’s the best my curveball’s felt.”

Dodgers

• Here are some early comments behind the reasons for Gavin Lux’s demotion.

Despite giving Gavin Lux the starting second base job last September, Roberts hasn’t given it to him this year. Lux, who reported to Summer Camp late, hasn’t made much contact at the plate since in limited action. Roberts started Enrique Hernández at second base on Sunday and Chris Taylor on Monday, saying the position is “open and going to be shared.” Lux is ranked by MLB Pipeline as the No. 1 prospect in the organization and the No. 2 prospect in the game.

“There’s a lot of things with Gavin’s swing,” Roberts said. “Need to get him more at-bats, live and simulated. [We were] getting there with his last at-bat last night, albeit a strikeout. Honestly, at second base, we have a lot of good options. Workload, matchups will certainly matter.

Walker Buehler and Dustin May may piggyback a start next week.

With a day off on Monday, Roberts has indicated Walker Buehler and Dustin May might piggyback Tuesday night in Houston.

Giants

Jeff Samardzija is not averaging over 90 mph with his fastball.

Veteran right-hander Jeff Samardzija didn’t look especially sharp in his start on Friday night, giving up two runs over three innings. He did not strike out a single batter and appeared to top out at 89.6 mph, but Kapler said he isn’t worried about Samardzija’s readiness for the regular season.

Last season, his fastball averaged 92 mph so a 2 mph drop would hurt his production but not as much as other pitchers.

Phillies

Vince Velasquez has reworked his pitch mix by adding a cutter and splitter.

He is still throwing his four-seam fastball and curveball, but everything else has changed. He is throwing a cutter and changeup — two pitches he did not throw in 2019. He is not throwing a slider, his second-most popular pitch last year, although he said he has not ditched it. Velasquez’s revamped four-pitch mix and renewed confidence has him pitching well in Summer Camp and looking like a smart bet to start for the Phillies in this weekend’s season-opening series against the Marlins at Citizens Bank Park, though Velasquez said Monday night that nobody has told him anything.

Pirates

• With Keone Kela out has the Pirates closer, the team has several options to take over.

Crick’s stuff is there, as is the makeup. And given that the only other conceivable choices to close would be Richard Rodriguez, who struggled early last season with what he himself called a lack of confidence, or Nick Burdi, who’s throwing flames but has 13 big-league appearances to his name, it’s safe to assume Crick would be next in line.

Reds

Nick Castellanos has a lingering injury from a hit-by-pitch.

Right fielder Nick Castellanos was out again from Sunday’s scrimmage after he suffered a bruise on his upper back when hit by a Tyler Mahle pitch on Friday.

“It’s definitely day to day, but it’s just a bad spot that he got hit in,” Bell said “He’s having trouble getting it loose. It hit him right on the neck and spine area. We’re being cautious because of the area it’s in, but it’s just a bruise and a matter of getting that swelling and soreness out of there.”

We hoped you liked reading Mining the News (7/23/20) by Jeff Zimmerman!

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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 three FSWA Awards including on for his MASH series. In his first two seasons in Tout Wars, he's won the H2H league and mixed auction league. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

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