Mining the News (9/2/22)

American League

Rangers

Nathaniel Lowe has decided to swing at better pitches.

“Just committing to better pitches,” he said. “Offense as a whole is trending in such a direction where it’s like, such a visual thing, as far as ‘Does my swing look good?’ But the real one true answer is ‘Does your swing produce?’ And if you get good pitches to hit, are you doing what you’re supposed to do with good pitches to hit? I think that I’ve finally found a space where I can just commit to that.

OK, that gives us a place to start. What has Lowe done with pitches in the strike zone? It’s interesting to think back to spring training — remember when he simply wasn’t swinging at any pitches, choosing instead to track them for the first few games of Cactus League play? It felt weird to everyone, including his manager. It turns out that strategy was more like a big cat stalking its prey. Somewhere after Opening Day, Lowe — as he said above — started committing to (see: “swinging at”) better pitches.

His Swing% is up from 45% to 52% and his .855 OPS is a career-best.

Red Sox

Brayan Bello’s command was gone before 74 pitches.

It’s something Cora said needs to be a regularity, not a flash in the pan. But on Tuesday, Bello’s 29-pitch fourth inning seemed to take its toll. He entered the fifth inning with 74 pitches, the most he’s had in a game since July 11. And from the first pitch of the fifth, his command was clearly gone. He walked Arraez on four pitches that didn’t sniff the zone and immediately fell into a 3-0 count against Correa, eventually missing low and inside to walk him on a full count.

Here is his walk rate for each 25-pitch increment:

Pitches: BB%
1-25: 9%
26-50: 13%
51-75: 11%
> 75: 33%

It’s tough to get a Win when limited to ~75 pitches.

White Sox

Lucas Giolito admits to not being right since getting hurt on Opening Day.

“Yeah. It sucks. It sucks,” said Giolito with a small laugh. “I was telling you guys before the season I put on weight, and I wanted to be very stable and strong, and then I got hurt on Opening Day. Things after that just weren’t really right all year.

“I feel a little bit stronger. A little bit healthier just in general. And I feel like I let go of some of the frustration. A little bit too much experimenting coming into the season and early on.

National League

Braves

Ronald Acuña Jr.’s knee will bother him for the rest of the season.

And there is an obvious reason: [Acuna’s] right knee still bothers him.

He’s been assured this is normal for some athletes just over a year after the ACL surgery he had in July 2021.

Acuña said … “To be honest, it was some pretty intense pains over the past couple of days. And this is just all something that I’ve never really experienced before in my life, so it’s all new to me.

“It’s just something we know he’s going to have to fight through,” Snitker said of Acuña’s injury, “and when we give him a few days, we’ll see. I don’t know if it’s ever just going to go away; I think it’s going to bother him the rest of the summer, then have a normal offseason and spring training, and he should be good to go.

“I know structurally it’s fine. It’s just there’s inflammation in there that’s making it uncomfortable for him. I feel for the kid. I mean, his legs are a big part of his game. It’s hard for him to run in and stop, and all that. He said it didn’t bother him hitting. It’s got to hurt a little bit, I would think, since the legs are such a big part of hitting.”

Vaughn Grissom will not play in the outfield this season.

Snitker said trying to find playing time for everyone would be a good problem to have. He said Albies could see some starts at designated hitter.

Grissom also could get some DH time. Snitker said moving Grissom to left field for some late-season games had not yet been brought up in his discussions. Some believe that could be a move for next season if the Braves re-sign Dansby Swanson.

Cubs

Rowan Wick is being encouraged to not throw his slider as much.

One thing the Cubs worked on with Wick around that time was limiting the number of sliders he was throwing. That slider was not the problem, specifically, but it was impacting his mechanics, leading the righty to be more rotational in his delivery on other pitches.

So, the goal was to focus on fastballs, knuckle-curves and cutters — the offerings that got Wick to this position with the Cubs in the first place.

“We know what he can do when he’s at his best,” Cubs pitching coach Tommy Hottovy said earlier this month. “He filled in when [David Robertson] was out for a little bit. I think just with all these guys, it’s getting more opportunity in high-leverage situations. That’s what we need to see.

I don’t understand this decision. For the season, Wick’s slider has a 24% SwStr%. His next highest rate is from his curve at 11%. This move by the Cubs is just dumb.

Nick Madrigal is finally healthy after tearing his hamstring.

One reason Madrigal pointed to was that he’s finally feeling healthy. After a devastating hamstring tear that ended his 2021 season after just 54 games, Madrigal just wasn’t fully himself.

“I’ve talked to doctors, therapists, they said it would take a good amount of time to feel completely 100 percent,” Madrigal said. “There was a chance I may never feel 100 percent. But the last couple of weeks I feel like I’ve taken the next step as far as starting to feel normal again. It’s one of those things where all year long it was a little tight here and there. Especially this last week, I feel like I’ve been able to run and not worry about it. It’s definitely encouraging just to feel a little bit better.”

Diamondbacks

Jake McCarthy cleaned up his swing.

McCarthy adjusted his mechanics at the plate this year, ditching the higher leg kick that he had last year. The result has been a simplified approach at the plate that has cut down on chasing pitches out of the zone.

“I was happy with my year last year, but I think there were a lot of inconsistencies at the plate,” McCarthy said. “I think I was striking out and swinging through or fouling off pitches I usually, not necessarily do damage, but could put the barrel on. I think a leg kick kind of complicates things if guys are changing speeds a lot. Last year when I got up to The Show, it seemed like I was seeing a lot of offspeed pitches. I just wanted to combat that somehow.”

Dodgers

• Gallo’s swing was a mess with the Yankees.

Over the next 12 months, Gallo hit .159 and strike out 194 times. His titanic power didn’t follow him to Yankee Stadium, where the short porch in right field appeared perfectly tailored to his prodigious left-handed swings. As Gallo tried to pull himself out of his slump, he only sank further.

“My swing wasn’t in a good spot,” Gallo told The Athletic recently, as he prepared to return to New York, where the Dodgers play the Mets on Tuesday night. “My mind was in a spot where, I was just chasing a hit so people would get the fuck off my back, I guess. I was just playing every day to get people to stop talking shit.

Mets

Mark Canha simplified his swing to find more power.

In the ninth inning against Young, Canha did something different. At the plate, he spread his legs out slightly more than usual with the objective to see the ball better. By doing this, he thought, he had a better chance to keep his head still. He would also cut down on his leg kick. The idea was to get more balanced, his weight more evenly distributed between his feet, his head not moving as much.

For helping to make the adjustment stick, Canha credited the Mets hitting coaches, and he specifically mentioned a drill in which Jeremy Barnes bounces balls in different directions to a swinging Canha, who is forced to maintain balance.

Padres

Adrian Morejon is viewed as a starter going forward.

Do the Padres still view Adrian Morejon as a future starter? — Sam W.

They do, and they need him to start some games next year. As we’ve covered numerous times, Sean Manaea, Mike Clevinger and Nick Martinez can become free agents this fall. Yu Darvish is 36, and Blake Snell has topped 130 innings only once in his career. MacKenzie Gore is a National. There isn’t much depth at Triple A outside of Ryan Weathers and Jay Groome, and Weathers already has shown he might profile better as a reliever. Adrian Morejon, then, could be a critical piece for the 2023 rotation.

Reds

Joey Votto has been dealing with pain over his entire body.

Votto said he had trouble sleeping since either late June or early July. He missed seven games in early July with back issues and returned July 12 in New York against the Yankees. Even then, after time off, he ran a sprint and his left arm, elbow and hand hurt.

“The whole thing was jacked up,” Votto said. “Then I took a swing in the game — this is the first game back after taking a week off. You’d think you would feel really well. Before that trip, that time off, it was the same thing. It was always just something. I just thought I would gut it out and finish it up, no excuses, just get the job done, and I wasn’t able to do that.”

“It inhibited my ability to recover and I noticed it with everything,” he said. “If I ran, real pain. Swinging, pain. It ended up being a problem in my hand, too. The hand was a major issue for the last six weeks or so. You deal with these things and you don’t acknowledge them and you keep moving forward.





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 once, and got his first NFBC Main Event win in 2021. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

3 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
nittanylion0
4 months ago

“The Cubs [are]… dumb.” FIFY