Mining the News (8/18/22) by Jeff Zimmerman August 18, 2022 American League Angels • Tucker Davidson has added a changeup. Davidson threw his slider 35 times, getting seven swings and misses with the pitch, while also throwing his four-seamer 35 times and getting one whiff. But he did locate his four-seamer for seven called strikes to help him get ahead in counts. He also mixed in six changeups, which is a pitch he’s been working on with Wise. “He had his slider and landed a couple good changeups,” interim manager Phil Nevin said. “He’s really been working on that changeup with Wiser, who is terrific at teaching that pitch. He threw some really good ones today. It’s more of a look [for the hitters] and it’s in their head now.” José Suarez is working on a second changeup. Suarez started working on his new changeup earlier this year at the suggestion of Angels pitching coach Matt Wise, who helped Suarez figure out a grip that allows the new changeup to move differently than the old one. “It helps me a lot because they have two different movements,” Suarez said via interpreter Manny Del Campo. “My old one is more like a fastball, and this one has more movement.” Added Nevin: “You can throw one for strikes, and the other one’s kind of more of a chase pitch. Good hitters taking the swings that they are off of it — it’s pretty impressive.” Astros • With Lance McCullers Jr. making a start, I decided to look at his pitches from that start to some pitch comps. Slider Changeup Curveball Sinker The one pitch that is way off from previous seasons is the sinker that has lost 1.2 mph. Historically, his sinker has a 5.2% SwStr% and 62% GB%. Also, it seems like his curveball might take a step backward since it has a career 59% GB% and 17% SwStr%. Athletics • Nick Allen recently made a swing adjustment. “In the box, I’m definitely looser with my hands, you know, I’m not gripping the bat as hard,” Allen said, recalling the adjustments he’s made between July and August. “I’ve definitely just been trying to get a good pitch to hit, and I’ve been hitting.” The solo shot — which was countered by Marcus Semien with a home run of his own in the bottom of the third inning to knot the score at 1-1 — would be Allen’s only hit of the game, as he finished the night 1-for-3 with a walk. Mariners • Julio Rodríguez is going to be more “strategic” when he attempts stolen bases. The club and Rodríguez himself are being more strategic about when to steal. Early in the season, Servais said, it was probably easier for Julio to run because people probably didn’t assume a player of his size was going to run as often as he did. So, effectively, Julio has sort of put the stop sign on himself. This isn’t something the team has mandated or anything like that. Opposing pitchers know he can run, so they’ll pay more attention to him, throw over more and vary their set time on the mound. Doesn’t mean he won’t run more, but he’ll just be smarter/more strategic about it. His stolen bases by month: Month: SB (Attempts) Apr: 9 (9) May: 5 (8) Jun: 5 (5) Jul: 2 (5) Aug: 0 (0) This quote, and possibly other quotes on the subject is going to bounce Rodríguez’s value around a ton. The difference between 10 SB and 40 SB is massive in Roto leagues. • George Kirby added a two-seam fastball. Manager Scott Servais continues to marvel at Kirby’s ability to manipulate pitch grips to create new movements while still filling up the strike zone as good as anyone on Seattle’s staff — and as a rookie, to boot. The addition of the two-seamer, which he added last month to better attack lefty hitters, is a prime example. Orioles • Anthony Santander is taking throws at first base. Anthony Santander keeps taking ground balls at first base in batting practice and could make some appearances in the infield as the season winds down. “I think it’s possible down the road, yeah,” Hyde said. “I think the more positions you can play for your own personal career, the better it is. And so for Tony to be able to play first base, I think that’s something he could possibly do down the road. It’s very, very natural. He’s done in in the minors. He did it with Cleveland in the minor leagues, so it’s not something that’s brand new to him. It’s just a little bit of a refresher right now, but we’d like to keep that as an option.” • Austin Voth has reworked some pitches. There have been several peripheral changes since Voth was let go by the Nationals and joined Baltimore: Voth has tweaked his day-to-day preparation and put new emphasis on how he applies data into game situations. He has even developed a sweeping slider to add to his four-seamer, cutter and curveball as a way to give himself some horizontal run that has wreaked havoc for right-handed hitters. Red Sox • Enrique Hernández will play mainly center field with a few games at second base. Getting Hernández and Refsnyder onto the roster is one thing. Getting them into the lineup is another. Alex Cora said Sunday that Hernández will play “a lot of center field” while also getting some starts at second base, but Tommy Pham is likely to remain in the leadoff spot. It’s worth noting that Hernández wasn’t hitting much before the injury (.613 OPS with a well-below-average 69 wRC+). Twins • Nick Gordon is finally able to bulk up and add power. Gordon missed the entire 2020 season, as COVID-19 sidelined him for most of the summer and chronic gastritis made it difficult to keep weight on once he was finally feeling better. At one point the 6-foot Gordon weighed just 153 pounds. Doctors struggled to find solutions, and through the combination of diet and medication, Gordon was eventually able to start eating normally again. He quickly put on more than 20 pounds last year, and this offseason, relieved to be able to eat and work out without complications, Gordon focused on adding strength. … “He’s more physical now,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “He’s holding more strength and more weight than he did previously. It’s a straightforward thing. He’s dealt with some ailments that have kind of stopped him from being able to put in the work and stopped his body from holding some of that strength. There’s probably a direct correlation to the way he’s swinging the bat.” National League Braves • Vaughn Grissom might eventually move to the outfield. Now consider that rather than going from a savvy veteran at shortstop, one who constantly helps position the other infielders, to a 22-year-old (Grissom’s birthday is in January) who is undoubtedly a special talent offensively but not at Swanson’s level defensively, the Braves could instead move Grissom to left field. They will have a need at left field in 2023. Injured and out-for-the-season Adam Duvall is a pending free agent, and Marcell Ozuna, assuming he’s not traded, is a bad defensive outfielder who should be confined to DH duties. Rosario is under contract through 2023 but could be a fourth outfielder. Grissom is an outstanding athlete who, at a rangy 6-foot-3, is probably better suited for the outfield than middle infield, particularly if he continues to add muscle to his frame, as he surely will. Scouts and others in baseball have predicted Grissom would eventually move to third base or the outfield. Cubs • Keegan Thompson reworked his delivery mid-season. But a couple of terrible starts in Baltimore and New York had people questioning if the rotation was his true calling. Thompson made those adjustments quickly. He found his balance point and made sure his arm wasn’t late, which was leading to his command being off and the opposition pouncing on hittable pitches right over the plate. Since those two bad starts, Thompson looks like a different pitcher, posting a 3.06 ERA over 50 innings and nine starts. • Justin Steele is working on a changeup. Steele led with his four-seamer (47 percent) and slider (41 percent), and he mixed in a handful of sinkers, per usual. There was a new wrinkle against the Nationals, though. The lefty has been working on a changeup since the spring, and he featured it a season-high seven times in the game. Washington’s Joey Meneses saw four of those offspeed pitches, swinging and missing once and connecting for a single on another. More notably, Steele induced a double-play off the bat of Thomas in the second inning with his improved changeup. “That’s huge as far as building confidence with the pitch,” Steele said. “I think moving forward it’ll be a big pitch.” Giants • Brandon Belt’s knee is all jacked up. He just watched Posey retire following his age-34 season, citing in part the wear and tear on his body over the years. For the second consecutive year, he is dealing with chronic pain in a right knee that has undergone two operations, including microfracture surgery in 2018 to promote cartilage growth. He’s had fluid drained from it several times this year. He acknowledged that “more stuff is popping up in there” and he has discussed another postseason surgery with the Giants’ medical staff. “It’s something I’ll be dealing with for the rest of my life,” Belt said. “That’s what happens when you play games every day for six months for a lot of years.” … “It’s not going to be perfect. There’s no doubt about that. There’s years when it’s better and there’s years when it’s worse. This is one of those years when it’s not great but it’s not going to keep me from playing. It may not be great on defense or running the bases, but I think I’ll still be able to provide a lot of production to try to keep this team in the race. Marlins • The plan is for Lewin Díaz to get most of the first base reps. The left-handed-hitting Lewin Díaz sat Game 1 against southpaw Kyle Muller, then started the nightcap with righty Ian Anderson on the mound. Expect to see more of that through the remainder of the season, as the Marlins try to figure out what they have in Díaz, a premier defensive first baseman. On Friday, manager Don Mattingly said Díaz would get the “lion’s share” of playing time, especially against right-handed pitching. So far, Diaz is just starting against righties with Garrett Cooper starting at first base against lefties. • Jon Berti will play five days a week with some center field reps. Mattingly envisions Berti playing five days a week, and he should see some time in center with Jesús Sánchez in the Minors. Berti has appeared at the position three times in 2022 and 37 games for his career. Mets • David Peterson will likely join the Mets rotation. Peterson, who has a 3.30 ERA/4.01 FIP with a 1.27 WHIP and 91 strikeouts in 79 major-league innings this season, would be the best candidate to slide into Carrasco’s role, if the spot in the rotation is vacated. • Eduardo Escobar was dealing with side discomfort before heading to the IL. Without Guillorme, Escobar, who has been battling side discomfort, started at third base. Not having Guillorme means additional time for Escobar, who was expected to be the primary third baseman, but has just a .653 OPS. He is also dealing with an injury. Escobar has had some discomfort batting from the right side. Against a lefty Sunday, the switch hitter opted to bat from the left side. For one at-bat in the seventh inning Monday against lefty Danny Young, however, Escobar batted from the right side. He swung, surprising even Showalter, and hit a weak grounder for an easy out. • Tylor Megill will be stretched out as a starter next season. Tylor Megill (right shoulder strain) is scheduled to throw his first bullpen session next Saturday. He's looking at late August, early Sept. for his return from the IL. That will be as a RP, though Mets officials have told Megill he'll stretch back out as a starter this winter. — Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) August 6, 2022 Phillies • Noah Syndergaard is trying to throw a harder slider. But Cotham wondered if there was more in Syndergaard’s slider. Earlier in the season, he fired a few at 87 and 88 mph. But the pitch had averaged 83.5 mph this season. Lefties hit it hard. … After Syndergaard’s first start with the Phillies, Cotham came to him with the idea. He showed Syndergaard video of a few harder sliders he had thrown. He asked Syndergaard to trust him, despite having just met him. So, Syndergaard threw 37 sliders at an average 87 mph in his second start. It looked, at times, like Syndergaard was yanking it. Then, there were moments when the slider played well. • Brandon Marsh has cleaned up his swing. One of his new club’s first tasks is to channel that energy into better swing decisions. The Phillies applied some adjustments to Marsh’s swing. It looks less complicated than it did while he was with the Angels. He swung and missed at 15 percent of the pitches he saw before the trade. His first swing-and-miss with the Phillies didn’t come until the 79th pitch he saw. … Marsh has eliminated extra movements in his swing, at the suggestion of Phillies hitting coach Kevin Long. Marsh had a double toe tap before. That’s gone. The goal is to improve his timing. Reds • Joey Votto has been dealing with a bad shoulder for years and will now miss the remainder of the season with rotator cuff surgery. “I don’t know how to explain what exactly happened, but it’s been lingering for a while,” he said. “I’ve had a difficult time with it.” Votto believes the initial injury may date back to the 2015 season, but he had been able to play through the discomfort up until this season. “Only the past maybe three months or so has it been painful to the point where it’s difficult to lift [and] hurts to sleep,” he said. “I’m not sure it’s affected my performance. … I can’t say that. I don’t want to make an excuse.” Rockies • Chad Kuhl is reworking his delivery. The hope is that when Kuhl returns he will have fully incorporated a setup adjustment to restore his direction toward home plate and eliminate spinning toward first base.