Welcome to the spring training recap for March 11th! Every day throughout spring training we’ll be providing a rundown of the top news and performances from the previous day’s games, as well as highlighting things to watch for in today’s matchups. There were a number of home runs and strikeouts so let’s get right to it!
- Wade Miley left Thursday’s outing against the White Sox with a left hamstring injury.
- The Pittsburgh Pirates signed RHP Trevor Cahill to a one-year deal.
- Brandon Belt (heel, illness) has been ramping up his activity level.
- Trent Grisham was diagnosed with a right hamstring strain.
- Carlos Carrasco (elbow) will try to play catch on Sunday.
Top Hitting Performances
Pederson had a perfect day against the Rockies with two home runs, as five of his nine hits in 17 at-bats this spring are home runs. The left-handed slugger’s three hits all had exit velocities of over 100 MPH, showing he’s already in mid-season form. Chicago’s newest acquisition should be in line for an everyday role despite his career platoon splits, making him a legitimate power for fantasy teams with more plate appearances.
Bobby Bradley (1B, Cleveland): 2-for-3, R, RBI
Bradley is in the midst of a battle with Jake Bauers for Cleveland’s first base duties this season, and so far the former has the upper hand — Bradley is 6-for-16 and 2 HR while Bauers is 2-for-12 with no home runs this spring. The 24-year-old has shown immense power at the minor league level, including 33 in 107 Triple-A games in 2019, but it has come with a hefty number of strikeouts (33.8% K in the aforementioned games). The battle likely won’t have too much implication for fantasy purposes, but if Bradley were to make it as the starting first baseman, he’d be an interesting late-round flier for those in need of power.
San Diego’s right fielder hit his second home run in as many games against Cleveland, having at least one hit in six of seven Cactus League games played. Myers, like his teammate Eric Hosmer, who also homered, did a remarkable job last year in resurrecting his hitting prowess by increasing his average exit velocity (90.2 to 91.0 MPH) and hitting fewer ground balls (43.1% to 38.3%). If Myers can also add his traditional double-digit stolen base total — including 28 and 20 in 2016 and 2017, respectively — the 30-year-old will be a foundational piece for many fantasy rosters this season.
Salvador Pérez (C, Kansas City Royals): 1-for-3, R, HR, 2 RBI, 2 K
Salvador Pérez hit an absolute bomb to center field off Josh Lindblom yesterday, his second home run in consecutive games. Kansas City’s backstop had a resurgent 2020 with a .410 wOBA (.401 xwOBA). Perez is locked in as one of the top catchers for fantasy in 2021.
Kirilloff smashed a ball off the batter’s eye in center field against Red Sox lefty Eduardo Rodríguez for his only hit of the day. The Twins’ top prospect struggled against left-handed pitching in Double-A in 2019 — .634 OPS v LHP, .816 OPS v RHP — so yesterday’s home run is a positive sign in the next stage of his development. With Eddie Rosario now in Cleveland, Kirilloff is clearly the most qualified option for left-field — hopefully, he breaks camp with the team and isn’t a victim of service time manipulation.
Marwin González (1B/2B/3B/OF, Boston Red Sox): 2-for-2, 2 R, 2 HR, 4 RBI
Marwin González got revenge against his former team, hitting a home run from both sides of the plate. In the first inning, González hit a home run off Twins right-hander Matt Shoemaker from the left side, leaving the bat at 107.4 MPH. In the fifth, the utility man batted right-handed and hit a towering three-run home run off Devin Smeltzer, leaving the bat at 100.8 MPH. González’s career-high in home runs was the 23 he hit back in 2017, but with the Green Monster, the utility man could put up a similar home run total with enough playing time — especially if Franchy Cordero misses time to start the year.
Here was our list of starters to watch from yesterday’s games:
SPs to watch on TV today:
Mitch Keller: 95 mph?
Shoemaker: Splitter working?
Eduardo: 3rd pitch for strikes?
Minor: FB back at 92/93?
Lindblom: 91 mph? SL great?
Canning: Overall command?
Bauer: No longballs? Spin rate still high?
Cole vs. Nola: OH BABY BABY
— Nick Pollack (@PitcherList) March 11, 2021
Here is how some of them fared:
Keller wasn’t sharp against the Orioles with two walks in as many innings but was able to average 95.9 MPH on his fastball (topped out at 98.2 MPH). In only his second outing of the spring, Keller’s fastball velocity is a welcome sign but it is worth watching whether he changes the usage on his pitches, throwing fewer four-seamers (52% v Orioles, 55.7% last year) with more sliders (25% v Orioles, 21.9% last year) and curveballs (21% v Orioles, 19.3% last year).
Eduardo Rodríguez (SP, Boston Red Sox): 4 IP, 4 H, ER, 0 BB, 6 K
Rodríguez has looked good in his two spring outings, with a 2.70 ERA and eight strikeouts in 6.2 IP. Against the Twins, ‘E-Rod’ was able to six whiffs(!) on his changeup on ten swings while also averaging nearly 92 MPH on the four-seamer — not quite the 93 MPH from 2019, but after returning from myocarditis last season it’s great he’s out there pitching and there’s plenty of time to improve upon that before the regular season commences. The only thing holding Rodríguez back is the lack of a reliable third pitch, as he only relied on his changeup and four-seamer in this outing — this is something to look at for the remainder of his Grapefruit League starts.
Minor was solid against the Brewers, recording five strikeouts — all swinging — while only giving up one earned run, a solo shot to Brewers backstop Manny Piña. The 33-year-old struggled last year to the tune of a 5.56 ERA and a loss of two miles-per-hour on his fastball, but if he’s throwing ~93 MPH on that heater then he’ll probably be a dependable option in yet another baseball season full of unknowns.
Lindblom had mixed results in his second start of Grapefruit League play against the Royals, allowing a couple of free passes and four-earned runs — two coming off a Salvador Pérez blast — but striking out six batters in the process. The right-hander now 10 strikeouts in his six innings this spring, while only conceding the aforementioned pair of walks. The former KBO standout is seemingly locked into a starting rotation spot with the Brew Crew and could be a nice source for punchouts after striking out 27.2% of batters faced last season.
Canning had poor control against San Francisco, walking four batters while not even getting out of the second inning. The 24-year-old right-hander struggled with command last season, walking nearly 10% of batters faced. Canning is firmly entrenched in the Angels’ six-man rotation but will continue to hold himself back unless he gets ahold of his free pass problem.
What to Watch for Today
SPs to watch on TV today:
Michael Pineda: SL for whiffs?
Jameson Taillon: 94/5 mph?
Pablo Lopez: Cutters working?
Marcus Stroman: Split-change good? Cutter-heavy?
Buehler: Secondaries for strikes?
Woodruff: 96+ mph?
Gallen: Avoiding getting behind in counts?
Castillo: SL whiffs?
— Nick Pollack (@PitcherList) March 12, 2021
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)