Mining the News October 27th, 2020 by Jeff Zimmerman October 27, 2020 American League Astros • Josh James is going to be out for six to eight months recovering from hip surgery. The recovery time for that procedure is approximately 6-8 months, the club announced on Saturday. A sixth-month recovery would take James into late April, while an eight-month recovery would stretch into late June. That’s another blow to an Astros pitching staff that already lost ace Justin Verlander for the entire 2021 season after he recently underwent Tommy John surgery. I don’t see any reason to roster him in any league that drafts before there is a positive update on his status. Athletics • Khris Davis is likely limited to the short side of a DH platoon. After four seasons as the team’s everyday DH, Khris Davis faced mainly left-handed pitchers in 2020, which limited his playing time to 30 games. He split the DH role with Canha, who played 21 games in that spot. He’s worthless in fantasy right now. Blue Jays • The Jays will start with Danny Jansen catching and if he fails, Alejandro Kirk will take over the catching duties. Kirk might be the future behind the plate for Toronto, but he still has a lot of work left to do. An additional month or two of seasoning, for a player who had never played above single-A prior to September, likely would be best for his development. The 2021 campaign still could be the year Kirk takes over for good. It just doesn’t need to be at the start of the season. Jansen has only 181 big-league games under his belt and his upside merits another shot, before perhaps giving way to Kirk later in the year if things don’t work out. In an early draft-and-hold, I could see handcuffing Jansen with Kirk. Otherwise, wait until the season starts to consider adding Kirk. Rangers • Ronald Guzmán is out of options, so he’ll get a long look as the Rangers first baseman. On the other, though, he did look better at the plate in his one month with Texas than he did at any time in 2019, his defense is plus and, given the likely nature of the 2021 season, the circumstances seem right to give him one last chance to prove he can hit enough to play a corner every day. Plus, Guzman is out of options. Texas may not want to risk that he gets snapped up by another team on waivers. Rays • Several sources tried to explain Brandon Lowe’s postseason breakout. Here’s one from ESPN. Last week, toward the end of the ALCS, as Lowe’s slump reached its nadir, he sent a video of his swing to Bledsoe and two others confidants, asking, simply, “What do you guys see?” Each responded with almost the same answer: Lowe’s posture, which is so vital to him generating such enormous power from such a small frame, had too much slack. When he is at his best, Lowe uses the swing he honed with Bledsoe, who, with his brother Dustin, owns and operates the Bledsoe Agency. … Lowe’s best swing begins with him getting grounded. “Get the booty back,” they’ll say at the performance center. When the posterior positioning happens at the same time that Lowe’s front foot is moving, his swing breaks. This information could be useful if Lowe’s booty position could be observed and it’s a cause of a slump. To find out, here are three images from early in the season, end of the season, and one of his postseason homer mentioned in the article. August September Postseason Maybe in August, he kept his booty down, but he’s been standing vertical throughout the postseason. I think it’s a bunch of a B.S. Nothing has changed in the postseason with Lowe. He continues to struggle to make contact (career 30% K%, 37% in the postseason) but can hit homers (career and postseason 22% HR/FB) Royals • Because of his defense, the Royals will start with Nicky Lopez as their second baseman next season. The offensive numbers weren’t good (.552 OPS), and Nicky Lopez knows he simply has to improve in that area. But he is so exceptional defensively — no second baseman had more Outs Above Average at plus-6 than Lopez — that his leash will be long. He should win a Gold Glove, and if you don’t think defense matters, especially up the middle, to Moore and Matheny, you’re not paying close attention. Alcides Escobar-lite at best. Twins • Josh Donaldson will be on a “measured usage” playing time plan next year. There’s no magic solution here considering Donaldson’s age (he’ll be 35 on Opening Day) and his extensive history of calf troubles, which carried through into the 2020 postseason, when he missed the AL Wild Card Series. In president of baseball operations Derek Falvey’s post-elimination press conference, he noted that the Twins were already working with Donaldson to stay ahead of the calf issues heading into next season, and they hope that a normal offseason and Spring Training, unlike the abbreviated ramp-up in ’20, could also help keep Donaldson healthier. Donaldson himself also noted some changes in his mentality throughout this season. He noted that he’s learned to put less pressure on himself and his coaches to get him on the field given his history of such injuries. He’s more willing to take himself out of the lineup if he doesn’t feel confident in his preparation. I’d imagine the Twins and Donaldson will ultimately settle on a combination of a focused recovery program and more measured usage in 2021. It sounds like even if Donaldson stays healthy, he might be limited to 120 to 130 games. Value accordingly. • Expect Mitch Garver and Ryan Jeffers to evenly split time at catcher. I’d say those odds are pretty good, especially considering how MLB-ready Jeffers looked on both offense and defense in his first taste of the big leagues, coupled with Garver’s shaky 2020. Obviously, the best-case scenario for the Twins is having both catchers be healthy and productive, which could lead to one of the Majors’ more productive timeshares. Jeffers probably has the better glove, while Garver likely has more offensive upside (even considering his .511 OPS last season). In fact, I’d think for now that Jeffers has the leg up on the starting job in 2021 given his usage in the playoffs, though that will obviously depend on how Garver comes out of the offseason. If the Twins have two starting-caliber catchers, expect a fairly even split in time. Garver was already going late in drafts. This news doesn’t help. That said, if I’m in a two-catcher AL-only league, it might pay to roster both. Yankees • Domingo Germán can join the Yankees rotation next year and Luis Severino won’t be healed until June or July. Germán is eligible to rejoin the active roster in Spring Training, though after missing all of 2020, he’ll have to recapture the form that allowed him to pace the Yanks in victories last year. As a condition of Germán’s suspension, he was unable to work out at any of the club’s facilities, a source of frustration which Cashman said prompted the hurler’s one-day “retirement” in July. As for Severino, Cashman said that the Yankees are setting June or July as his target for a big league return. Severino had Tommy John surgery in February and has been tossing at 90 feet for about three weeks. National League Braves • Mike Soroka will not be ready for the start of the season. Although the Braves still aren’t giving any specific timetables, and Soroka is still early in an Achilles-surgery rehab process, all indications are that the 23-year-old standout is well on his way to returning early in the 2021 season. Giants • News keeps coming out that the Giants will look for closer within the organization. I wouldn’t expect the Giants to splurge on an established closer in free agency, so I think the most likely candidate would be an internal option like Reyes Moronta, who appeared poised to inherit the ninth-inning role before undergoing shoulder surgery last September. Moronta missed the entire 2020 season while rehabbing, but if he shows that he’s healthy during Spring Training and can recapture his pre-surgery form, I think he has the weapons to lock down the ninth for the Giants next year. Marlins • Sixto Sánchez and Trevor Rogers may start the season in the minors. Projecting the rotation, Mattingly noted three who would be considered “locks.” He mentioned Sandy Alcantara, Pablo López and Elieser Hernandez, who missed the final month and the playoffs due to a strained right lat. Left off the “locked list” were rookies Sixto Sánchez and Trevor Rogers, both of whom made their MLB debuts this season and pitched in the postseason. That doesn’t mean either won’t be in the rotation at the start of 2021, but Mattingly reminds they may need some more Minor League polish. I wonder if we have another Zac Gallen situation on our hands. Mets • At best, Amed Rosario will be a part-time shortstop with Andrés Giménez playing every day or being the other half of the platoon. The short answer is that Andrés Giménez has earned a chance to play more, whether that’s as a starter or the left-handed half of a shortstop platoon. He’s the superior defender and was one of the brightest spots of the Mets’ 2020 season. The longer answer is that it’s complicated. Amed Rosario is still — still! — just 24 years old, and supremely talented. I’m skeptical the Mets will ever move him to center field, and skeptical it would work if they did. If the Mets are to shift Brandon Nimmo off center, it would make sense to replace him with a true, experienced fielder. … Given all those factors, it’s difficult to predict who might start at shortstop in 2020. I just doubt the job will belong to Rosario alone. Without a real-life trade, it sounds like fantasy managers should target Giménez first in drafts. Nationals • Victor Robles must have gotten tired of being at the bottom of the StatCast leaderboard for power and got all buff. On Robles, he arrived at camp about 20 lb. heavier than normal and was considerably slower in the field. This was one of many cases where it would have helped reporters see guys in person (not over Zoom) as I wondered how much of it was “good weight.” Maybe it mostly was, though his exit velocity has been a warning sign for scouts; generally, adding that much size to a hitter would normally translate into more power. It is impossible to add muscle exclusively, of course, so even without seeing Robles up close this season, it stands to reason his body fat percentage went up. Beefcake Padres • Luis Patiño and Adrian Morejon are in the mix to fill out the rotation. Patiño is absolutely in the rotation mix, and as things currently stand, it’s fair to consider him the early favorite for the No. 5 starter role. Of course, that might change if the Padres can land some rotation depth this winter. … It’s still possible the Padres build Morejon back to a starter’s workload. But that might be dependent upon how they view the rest of their rotation. If they have enough starting caliber arms elsewhere, Morejon is an excellent lefty length option for the bullpen. I think Morejon is a huge breakout candidate, but got hit by the home run bug (3.3 HR/9 in 19 IP) that pushed his ERA about 1.5 runs higher than his xFIP and SIERA. Buy the skills. Phillies • Zack Wheeler got the nail fixed on his middle finger and should be ready for Spring Training. Zack Wheeler underwent a successful right middle fingernail resection procedure on Oct. 12 to address the freak injury that forced him to miss a start in September, the Phillies announced on Wednesday. Wheeler is projected to be ready for the start of Spring Training. Dr. Gary Lourie performed the procedure in Atlanta. Wheeler nearly lost the nail on the middle finger of his pitching hand on Sept. 9 when he lost his balance putting on pants, catching his nail on his belt buckle and partially disconnecting it from the nail bed. You can see the injury right here.