Mining the News (7/6/20)

General

• I’m back to collecting fastball velocities. I’ve created a tab for Spring Training and one for Summer Training.

• Jon Becker has created a spreadsheet with all the COVID Cases and players who have opted out. Just remember that he’s one person donating his time, so always check the news for the latest updates. And thank him.

• The Cubs are trying to have several options in place for the season’s starter.

“We’re trying to front-load all our starters,” Hottovy explained. “In a normal Spring Training, you’d be lining guys up. This guy would be your Opening Day starter. Ideally, here’s Day 2. Right now, in my mind we have seven Opening Day starters, because [we want to] get everybody healthy through a Spring Training like this. You can’t space them out too much, in my opinion, just because we can’t take that chance.”

I could see teams have two to three potential starters for each game in case a pitcher can’t go for some reason.

• The Pirates are prepping for more stolen bases.

Shelton said he believes there will be more aggressive baserunning and more stolen-base attempts during a shortened season. The manager also suggested that the club’s research indicates there could be more sacrifice bunting, even with pitchers no longer batting in the NL.

“I think you’re going to see it be a little more prevalent, because I think runs are going to be at a premium,” Shelton said. “Certain teams are going to play for runs.”

I read that some players may not try to steal at all. I think it’s going to be a mixed bag of approaches going forward.

American League

Angels

• Joe Maddon plans on having a quick hook with his starters.

Maddon reiterated that he could have a quicker hook with starting pitchers this season because of games will having more meaning than with a traditional 162-game slate. He said it brings on more importance for the bullpen and he’ll need to lean on middle relievers.

“You’re playing differently starting the season in the playoff race,” Maddon said. “You will be less tolerant at times and thus you’re going to go to the bullpen sooner. So that’s part of the thought process, too. That middle guy can be a pretty dominant role this season.”

• The starters should throw 90 pitches by the season’s start.

Angels manager Joe Maddon said Saturday he expects his starters to reach the 90-pitch mark by end of Summer Camp.

Several pitchers, including Andrew Heaney, Matt Andriese and Dylan Bundy, already are throwing up to 55 pitches.

Blue Jays

• Nate Pearson has improved his slider and change over the past few months.

The realities of the season have changed drastically, but Pearson has used the three-and-a-half month shutdown as an extended offseason. Speaking with MLB Network Radio on Wednesday, the 23-year-old said he’s sharpened up his curveball, a pitch that has trailed his slider in the past, and improved the command on his changeup, a pitch that flashed incredible potential in spring as he worked it off his 100 mph fastball.

If true, he’s going to be crazy good when he debuts.

Indians

• The outfield and DH roles are coming into play with right field being the only question.

At the end of Spring Training, the Indians appeared to be leaning towards having Santana or Reyes start in left with the other getting penciled in as the designated hitter. Neither are known for their defense and will have to show who can play the best left field over the next three weeks to determine who will play in the field.

That leaves Naquin and Luplow to fight for right field. Both have gone through the platoon role and both would much rather win an everyday job.

Orioles

• The starters should be throwing 85 pitches when the season begins.

Consider it a goal of the next few weeks, with Hyde saying he hopes to get his starters into the “six-inning, 85-pitch” range by late July. He also acknowledged how expanded 30-man rosters at the outset of the season could allow the Orioles to get “creative” on the pitching side, as they are expected to use that flexibility with additional relievers.

Rangers

• While the Oriole starters hope to get to 85 pitches, Corey Kluber is already throwing 85.

Kluber went five innings and threw 85 pitches, including 55 strikes. Leody Taveras took Kluber deep with a home run inside the right-field foul pole in the fifth inning.

Rays

• Daniel Robertson reworked his swing.

After a disappointing 2019 season, Daniel Robertson made some slight changes to his mechanics at the plate and started working with the personal coach of the Dodgers’ Justin Turner. Robertson came into Spring Training fully prepared to have a bounce-back season, but then the season came to a halt. That allowed Robertson, despite the tough circumstances, to continue to work on his new swing.

“Not many times do you get to do something in the offseason, go put it to use, see what works, see what doesn’t work and then you get to go back home and keep grinding, keep working on the process,” Robertson said Sunday. “It’s only beneficial from my standpoint. … Definitely excited to see how it translates, for sure.”

Red Sox

• Nathan Eovaldi is likely the Red Sox opening day starter.

Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke expects the team to begin intrasqaud games on Thursday, with Nathan Eovaldi on track to make the start.

Eovaldi fired three innings of live batting practice on Saturday, and he will continue to ramp up on Thursday. Though Roenicke hasn’t made an announcement, all signs point to Eovaldi getting the start on Opening Day. Lefty Eduardo Rodriguez still hasn’t reported to camp as he is awaiting results of a COVID-19 test he took in Florida.

With the limited schedule coming out tonight, knowing a team’s rotation might help to find some early streamers.

Tigers

• Michael Fulmer is not yet up to his pre-injury velocity.

What it means in terms of [Fulmer’s] power arsenal remains to be seen. He isn’t expecting to be at his regular velocity right away, and might not get there for a while. Such is the nature of major surgery. But if he can get to that velocity with easier effort, it could help him over the long term.

National League

Cardinals

• While Miles Mikolas will start the season in the Cardinals rotation, he’ll be on a limited pitch count.

Righthander Miles Mikolas, who had to back off almost from the start of spring training because of a flexor tendon strain that required a second platelet-rich plasma injection, would not have able to pitch at all on March 26. He fully expects to be in the Cardinals’ rotation starting on July 24, when their coronavirus-delayed season is set to open.

“I’m getting ready to get guys in the (batters’) box,” said Mikolas, who will oppose hitters either Monday or Tuesday for 40 pitches — the equivalent of two innings. “We know we’ll have a couple of those before we start the intrasquad games more toward the end of (summer) training.

I liked the idea of rostering Mikolas because he could go long into games for a Win, but this news scraps that idea.

• Dakota Hudson used the extra time to try to cut down on his walks.

Hudson spent time over the offseason working on smoothing out his delivery to cut down on the walks that hurt him last season, and he was able to show some of that work in Spring Training. When everything shut down, he went back to work on the delivery and said he’s found more consistency in his command because of it. The goal for this year is still the same.

Cubs

• Yu Darvish is working on his 11th pitch.

On June 19, Darvish posted a video on Twitter of a pitch that he did, in fact, dub the “Supreme,” as Hottovy mentioned. Consider it an alternative to the right-hander’s traditional splitter. Hottovy said it was a hybrid pitch that combined a two-seam fastball with a split, and the video posted by Darvish shows the offering fading down and in toward the right-handed batter’s box.

Diamondbacks

• Robbie Ray is up to throwing 80 pitches.

“I know I could pitch in a game right now,” Ray said. “My arm, my body, everything feels really good. Like I said, I threw around 80 pitches today in live BP, and it was pretty much max effort. Hopefully, I can get some simulated games in against our guys. It shouldn’t really take me very long.”

Marlins

• While Garrett Cooper will get most of the at-bats as the Marlins DH, it will be a rotation.

“I think we have an idea of who will DH the most,” Mattingly said. “But I do look at it as using a rotation, where guys get a little bit of a breather, but also stay in the lineup.”

Cooper may be the choice to be used as the DH most often. In 2019, he hit .281/.344/.791 with 15 home runs and 50 RBIs in 107 games.

• Even the Marlins plan on playing each game like it’s the postseason.

“I think there is going to be less of that [patience] and more of, ‘This is our best lineup. This gives us our best chance to win today,’” Mattingly said. “It’s not a development situation. It will be more of, in my mind, at least, until somebody tells me differently, I’m going to manage in a way to win every game.

“In a sprint, it’s really important to keep that hammer down, knowing every game is a big game for us.”

Mets

• The Mets may go with a closer-by-committee.

Nationals

• Carter Kieboom is expected to be the starting third baseman.

Padres

• Padres are planning to go with a five-man rotation.

The Padres aren’t expecting to change their rotation plans, even with rosters set to expand to 30 players for the first two weeks of the season. Tingler plans to open the year with a five-man staff, a preference designed to get his front-line weapons the ball as often as possible in a shortened season.

Tingler did add a caveat: He’s hoping to build 12 pitchers into potential starters from among the group of players in camp. Given the uncertainty surrounding players who might miss time due to the coronavirus, the Padres are eyeing rotation depth.

Pirates

• Josh Bell was impressed with Gregory Polanco’s surgically repaired arm.

Josh Bell came away from Saturday’s workout raving about Gregory Polanco, saying the right fielder had “the most impressive workday that I’ve seen Polanco have since last year.”

Polanco launched batting-practice homers to all fields, splashed a few in the Allegheny River and then — perhaps most importantly, given the lingering uncertainty about his surgically repaired shoulder — fired throws from right field to third base.

“That was the best I’ve seen his arm since surgery,” Bell said. “As long as he can backspin the ball, it’s going to be right on target. So I’m excited for the player. I’m excited to watch him this year. I’m excited to hit in front of or behind him. There’s going to be a lot of runs to be scored.”

Joe Musgrove is already throwing 75 pitches.

That Musgrove came into Summer Camp able to throw five innings and 75 pitches bodes well for his regular-season readiness. Musgrove used his downtime wisely, regularly throwing bullpens while working on his delivery, his six-pitch arsenal and his conditioning.

• The Pirates 5th spot will not be a single pitcher.

The Pirates aren’t revealing much about their rotation, but Shelton on Friday came as close as he has to saying the fifth spot behind Musgrove, Trevor Williams, Mitch Keller and Derek Holland won’t belong to just one pitcher.

“With that last spot, we’ll probably get a little creative and we can do a couple different things,” Shelton said. “That’s not to say that it couldn’t be one guy that ends up being that starter, but I think initially we’ll probably be a tad more creative with that spot.”

Reds

• The Reds will fill the DH slot from their extra outfielders.

Bell has not settled on a DH for the season, and he expects to have multiple players rotate through that spot in the lineup. The chances are strong that the DH will be from the depth of the many outfielders.

• Nick Senzel was still hurting a month ago.

That would put him healthy in early June. Before the season was shut down the news was “…could be ready for the originally scheduled Opening Day.” With such a short season, I can’t wait two months for a player to finally get healthy. I’m passing on anyone with any injury. Playing time is too important.

Rockies

Antonio Senzatela’s pitches are faster, sharper, spin and break more, and have impregnated five females and one male.

“The greatest strides of all these guys, for me, is Antonio Senzatela,” Foster said. “It was the things done behind the scenes last year at the end of the season that he stuck with through the offseason and came into Spring Training. His velocity is up. His breaking pitches are sharper. The Rapsodo [pitching monitors] tells me his numbers have increased — spin rate and vertical [break]. He’s just gotten better and he’s already done well.”

We hoped you liked reading Mining the News (7/6/20) 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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walt526
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walt526

Typo in the Pirates Section… you say Jorge Polanco when referring to Gregory.