Mining the News (8/6/20)

I have sent parts of three days to come up with the following few blurbs. There is just no player-specific information available. I blame it on the lack of player access … and the void is completely understandable. News outlets need their quotes on the game just over and the one coming up. There are no deep dives in the zoom calls.

Much of the “news” being reported is just being pulled from the boxscore or here at FanGraphs. I’m going to focus my efforts on the same sources. Personally, I’ve found more actionable items just looking through lineups than going through article after article. During the offseason, I just collected each bit and then could run them all at once. I don’t have the luxury sandbag the information with everything in flux. The RotoGraphs side is working on a unique solution. Stay tuned.

American League

Rangers

The Rangers are looking for a closer with experience.

Woodward also has right-handers Nick Goody and Ian Gibaut as potential late-inning candidates, along with left-hander Brett Martin.

“The one thing I told this group from day one is there are no roles,” Woodward said. “We don’t have the luxury of saying we are going to put you in a role. I trust guys with experience, you look at Edinson Vólquez. Jonathan Hernández with his stuff, kind of come to mind. Those two guys could maybe take on that role.”

Tigers

JaCoby Jones will continue to hit at the bottom of the order because … because.

JaCoby Jones entered Thursday tied for the Major League lead in home runs while batting 8-for-19, providing a catalyst at the bottom of the order. For now, Gardenhire is resisting any temptation to move him up the order.

“He’s comfortable there,” Gardenhire said. “I’ve always liked the guy down there. Especially when he gets hot and he’s swinging good, he rolls it over to the first part of the lineup. I’ve moved people before, but with JaCoby, we’ll leave him right there.”

National League

Cardinals

Cubs

Alec Mills has been working on his curveball.

Mills developed that curveball last season, when he spun a 1.15 ERA in September and a 2.75 ERA in nine appearances overall for Chicago. The righty continued to hone the slow breaker over the offseason and in Spring Training, and then used the three-month shutdown period to keep refining the pitch.

“Last year at the end of the year,” Mills said, “I kind of really started getting more of a feel for that curveball. I think it’s been a big thing for me. It’s kind of just a different pitch that I thought made me a lot better.”

Mills featured the curve 11 times out of his 98 pitches against Kansas City, reaching as low as 64 mph with the offering. That is nearly 30 mph slower than the max velo he reached with his fastball (92.2 mph).

David Ross would trust Jeremy Jeffress with the closer’s role.

Ross would not commit to righty Jeremy Jeffress, who picked up the save on Monday after Kimbrel’s exit, as his backup closer. Said Ross: “I trust J.J. in any inning, I can tell you that.”

Padres

Joey Lucchesi and Cal Quantrill are likely in a piggy-back situation.

Still, there’s an obvious trend developing in Lucchesi’s rotation spot. Both times, the righty Quantrill has replaced the lefty Lucchesi during Lucchesi’s second trip through the opposing lineup. Both times, Quantrill’s arrival came when Lucchesi was staring down an important at-bat against a righty hitter who’d had success against him.

“It’s totally different for me because I obviously want to go as long as I can, as hard as I can,” said Lucchesi, of his shortened starts. “But whatever the team needs, I’ll do it.”

Quantrill followed Lucchesi with 4 1/3 innings of three-run ball on Saturday. The Padres’ bats, after mounting a late charge on Friday night, had none of the same magic the following evening. Trent Grisham launched a solo homer in the eighth, but that was all the offense they would get. Rockies left-hander Kyle Freeland became the first opposing pitcher to complete six innings against San Diego this season.

Pirates

Colin Moran changed his approach to certain pitches.

Moran is 6-for-20 with three homers and a double in six games. He said during Summer Camp that he’s focusing more on solidifying his approach than tinkering with the mechanics of his swing. After his research revealed that he chased too many cutters and sliders last year, coincidentally or not, two of his three homers have come on sliders.

We hoped you liked reading Mining the News (8/6/20) 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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Piotr
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Piotr

thanks as always Jefff. this may be a better comment for Bullpen Report, but last night when Cubs had a 3 run lead, JJ was used in 8th, presumably to set up Rowan in 9th. ultimately the Cubs blew it open in bottom 8th so we didn’t find out for sure. it does sound like Ross is keeping options open…