Spring Training Notes (3/12/18) Diaz, Bush, Montgomery, & South Side Closer

Indians

The Indians have no desire to raise Yandy Diaz’s launch angle.

But the chanting for Diaz to put a few degrees of lift into his swing is not coming from manager Terry Francona and the Indians.

“The best way to mess him up is to try to get him to pull the ball in the air,” Francona told reporters in Goodyear, Ariz. “He won’t be the hitter he is. We know that.”

Diaz’s body builder’s physique is trapped inside the swing of a No.2 hitter. In Cuba, where he learned to play, he usually hit second. His right-handed swing is grooved to hit the hole between first and second base to advance the runner on first.

But no matter how hard Diaz hits the ball, the infield shift has largely neutralized his swing. Last season Diaz hit .263 (41-for-156) with no homers and 13 RBI. Nine of his hits went for extra bases.

Well great. No improvement here.

Rangers

Matt Bush is headed back to the bullpen after attempting starting.

Instead, Bush will be used as a reliever who will serve as a “bridge” in the middle innings and can pitch one-plus innings. Bush has been used strictly as a reliever in his first two seasons with the Rangers.

“We just feel that Matt is way too important to us in the bullpen,” manager Jeff Banister said. “Just his set of pitches, how he pitches, so we feel like that’s the best move for him as well as us as a team trying to structure the bullpen the best way we possibly can going forward.”

Bush may still be a nice pickup as a cheap middle reliever with a 100 IP workload.

White Sox

The White Sox are going to keep everyone guessing who’s going to be their opening-day closer.

Even with the experienced pair of Soria and Jones in tow, Renteria didn’t want to limit his closing options. He mentioned returning White Sox Juan Minaya, Gregory Infante and Danny Farquhar as players who saw high-leverage time last season. Chicago also has non-roster options such as Bruce Rondon, Jeanmar Gomez, Robbie Ross Jr. and has Luis Avilan — also acquired in the Soria trade — as options on the back end.

“I don’t want to tie myself down and say we won’t ultimately have a Minaya closing out a ballgame or an Infante or a Farquhar or whoever it might be in a particular situation, but I do know that those two young men have experience and have done it,” Renteria said. “Nate’s coming back healthy, capable of doing a lot of different things. Fortunately for us, our flexibility has improved. Through either experience, we’re gaining from the guys we have that fell into that role last year and the two men that are with us in Joakim and Nate.

I’m only going to target either Nate Jones or Joakim Soria. They’re projected for the best stats (about 10 K/9 and 3.50 ERA). I’ll prefer Jones and his 0.00 ERA with Soria posting one at 18.00 ERA. I’m betting on the White Sox playing the hot hand.

Yankees

Unless he completely falls apart, Jordan Montgomery will be given a Yankees rotation spot to start the season.

Coming off a campaign in which he paced all American League rookies in starts, strikeouts and innings pitched, Jordan Montgomery has all but secured his place in the rotation, manager Aaron Boone said.

Montgomery, whose next start will come on Sunday against the Marlins, has limited opponents to one run on five hits in 8 2/3 Grapefruit League innings (1.04 ERA). Boone said on Friday that he sees the fifth rotation spot as belonging to Montgomery.

“I viewed him as very much a front-runner for that spot,” Boone said. “We e really excited about not only the year he put together last year, but where we think he can continue to go. When I look at him, I look at him as one of our starters.”

He’s now a wild card heading into the season and these readings have me moving him down in my rankings.





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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Heathcliff Slocumb
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Heathcliff Slocumb

I’m curious why Boone confirming Montgomery’s rotation spot would be cause for downgrading him. Not a soul thought he would be considered higher than the 5th starter. If he stays healthy and doesn’t implode, he’s in the rotation if only because there’s little chance CC makes anywhere close to 30 starts.

Cromulent
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Cromulent

It says “these readings have me moving him down” which could be about the radar gun but I don’t see any numbers. Jeff, are you saying his velo is down?

Heathcliff Slocumb
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Heathcliff Slocumb

It almost sounds like it was written for a Greinke profile.

Dmoran703
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Dmoran703

Maybe ‘down’ means ‘up’.

Ex: Ranked 45th to 39th

Heathcliff Slocumb
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Heathcliff Slocumb

That statement was preceded by “he’s now a wild card.”