Welcome to the spring training recap for the past weekend, March 12th to the 14th! Every day throughout spring training we’ll be providing a rundown of the top news and performances from the previous weekend’s games, as well as highlighting things to watch for in today’s matchups. There was a ton of action so let’s get right to it!
- Xander Bogaerts (shoulder) says he’ll be ready for Opening Day.
- Austin Nola has a fractured middle finger on his left hand and there is no timetable for his return.
- Stephen Strasburg has a strained plantaris muscle in his left calf but doesn’t expect to miss much time.
- Tejay Antone (groin) thinks he will be able to make his next scheduled Cactus League start.
- Sonny Gray (back) is expected to miss the first week of the season.
- Trevor Rosenthal (groin) threw a successful bullpen on Sunday and his next appearance will be in a Cactus League game.
- Carlos Carrasco (elbow) said there were no issues throwing from 75 feet yesterday. He’s expected to throw from 90-120 feet Monday and possibly have a 10-15 pitch bullpen Tuesday.
- Daniel Bard will be the Rockies’ closer.
Top Hitting Performances
Andrew Vaughn (1B, Chicago White Sox): 2-for-3, R, BB (3/12)
Vaughn got on base three times — two singles and a walk — on Friday. The South Side’s top prospect has created a case for his spot on the Opening Day roster as the designated hitter with eight hits in 26 at-bats and walking (6) more than he’s struck out (5) [these stats are updated as of yesterday]. The only thing holding Vaughn back is the lack of experience, as he’s only reached High-A ball in his professional career. In that short time, Vaughn has displayed elite plate discipline (12.2% BB, 15.5% K) but has struggled to hit for power (.449 SLG), so he’s still a questionable choice for Chicago’s big league roster.
Tyler O’Neill (OF, St. Louis Cardinals): 2-for-3, R, HR, 2 RBI (3/12)
O’Neill’s leaned out and smoked a Joe Smith changeup over the right-field wall in his second at-bat before roping a single to the opposite field in his next plate appearance. O’Neill has been known for his light-tower power as a prospect but has never found grounding at the big league level. The Cardinals seem to have finally cleared space for O’Neill to get regular at-bats — maybe that’s all he needs.
Luis Robert (OF, Chicago White Sox): 2-for-4, R, HR, RBI, SB, K (3/13)
Robert flashed his supreme offensive ability, hammering a hanging slider for a home run and smashing a low fastball down the left-field line for a double — both off Shohei Ohtani. After the double, Robert proceeded to get a massive lead and stole third base — it’s even more impressive considering Adam Eaton, a left-handed batter, was at the plate. While his whiff-heavy approach takes him out of the top echelon of players in fantasy, there’s just too much talent here to let him slip past the fifth or sixth round.
Cavan Biggio (2B/3B/OF, Toronto Blue Jays): 2-for-2, 3 R, HR, 3 RBI, BB (3/13)
Cavan Biggio hit from the seventh spot in Saturday’s lineup and produced a very typical line for the left-hander. The utility man hit an RBI double in the second inning and walked in the fourth before blasting a ball over the center-field wall an inning later. The only thing not on display against the Orioles was his propensity for steals, as Biggio is 20-for-20 in stolen base opportunities in his big league career (159 games).
Mike Yastrzemski (OF, San Francisco Giants): 1-for-3, R, HR, 2 RBI, 2 K (3/14)
Sweet-swinging lefty Mike Yastrzemski hit his first home run against the Diamondbacks yesterday. The younger ‘Yaz’ improved on his breakout 2019 by nearly doubling his walk rate (7.8% to 13.3%), dropping his strikeouts (26.0% to 24.4%), and adding even more power to his game (.245 ISO to .271 ISO) last season. San Francisco’s best hitter is a nice target in the middle rounds in drafts for those seeking the handy combination of plate discipline and power.
Carlos Correa (SS, Houston Astros): 1-for-2, R, HR, RBI, BB, K (3/14)
After walloping Nationals reliever Brad Hand’s first offering for a home run, Carlos Correa finally has his first long ball of the spring. Even though he hit from the third spot this game, Correa has been mentioned by Dusty Baker as an option to hit leadoff — including Myles Straw and now José Altuve. Correa has shown the ability to be an ‘x-factor’ regardless of if he hits leadoff or in the middle of the order — he just has to stay healthy long enough to accrue big numbers.
Here was our list of starters to watch from the past weekend:
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
SPs to watch on TV today:
Rich Hill: 87+ mph?
Ian Anderson: Avoiding deep counts?
Corey Kluber: 91/92 mph?
JT Brubaker: Sliders = whiffs?
Casey Mize: Solid splitters and cutters?
Zach Eflin: CB in da house?
Shohei Ohtani: upper 90s? Solid FB command?
— Nick Pollack (@PitcherList) March 13, 2021
A few Moore:
Matt Moore: Is this for real?
Singer: Does he have a legit strikeout pitch?
Urias: Are his SLs + CBs getting whiffs?
Houser: FB killing it?
Kikuchi: FB command good? FC/SL getting whiffs?
— Nick Pollack (@PitcherList) March 14, 2021
Here is how some of them fared:
Jameson Taillon (SP, New York Yankees): 2.2 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 4 K (3/12)
Taillon struggled with command against the Tigers on Friday but managed to get through the outing unscathed. Despite conceding three walks, we can get excited as the former Pirate was able to show us a new approach. Averaging 94 MPH on the four-seamer, peaking at 95.1 MPH, Taillon bombarded the top of the zone with the heater resulting in a 32% CSW and 40% Whiff% — impressive to say the least. The next challenge for the 29-year-old is to find the radar on his slider, as only four of his breakers were below the hitter’s belt buckle.
Marcus Stroman (SP, New York Mets): 3.1 IP, 4 H, ER, BB, 4 K (3/12)
Stroman’s first three batters resulted in two hits and a run but then settled down nicely going into the fourth inning Friday. Stroman’s split-change was not effective, as it was used eight times but did not generate a whiff — on two swings — nor a called strike. The Mets’ right-hander generally used his slider and sinker to retire Marlins hitters but unveiled a new point of attack — four-seamers at the top of the zone. Six four-seamers were thrown, all at or above the top third of the zone, getting one whiff on two swings (50% CSW). It’s still early in the spring so Stroman did not go deep into this outing, but when he goes longer he should be displaying his cutter (only three thrown against Miami) and split-change more often facing lineups the third time through.
Pablo López (SP, Miami Marlins): 4 IP, 4 H, ER, 0 BB, 3 K (3/12)
Opposing Stroman was Pablo López, who allowed a lone run across four innings while striking out three. Lopez used his four-seamer (33% CSW) and changeup (36% CSW) to generate most of his whiffs (six combined of seven total) while throwing his sinker 12 times with no whiffs, resulting in a 12% CSW on the pitch. The right-hander’s best-performing pitch of 2020 was his cutter (.255 wOBA/.166 xwOBA), but like last year when he used it sparingly at 8.4% of the time, Lopez only used the pitch four times on Friday. In addition to using the curveball he’s been developing more, the 25-year-old must throw more cutters to pitch longer in games (.767 OPS against 3rd time through the order in 2020).
Corey Kluber (SP, New York Yankees): 4 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 2 K (3/13)
Two-time AL Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber allowed a couple of runs on a solo home run off the bat of Troy Stokes Jr. and an RBI groundout from Erik González. Kluber sat around 91 MPH on his sinker, while using his curveball to induce a whopping five swings and misses on only eight swings (12 pitches total, 50% CSW). As long as he’s healthy, we’ll continue to see the ‘Klubot’ do absurd things with the ball.
Corey Kluber, Fastball & Breaking Ball Overlay.
The anatomy of a ⚔️ pic.twitter.com/Cvz2uIvxCJ
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) March 13, 2021
Casey Mize (SP, Detroit Tigers): 2.1 IP, 4 H, 6 ER, 3 BB, 3 K (3/13)
After a couple of scoreless outings to open his Grapefruit League account, Casey Mize had a real stinker against the Phillies, allowing six runs while not getting out of the third inning. This was also his third straight outing of allowing three walks, each one scoring on Saturday — Andrew McCutchen in the first on Bryce Harper’s home run, and Rhys Hoskins and Harper before Didi Gregorius hit a grand slam. As a positive, Mize’s cutter (38% CSW) was a potent offering as it generated three whiffs on six swings. However, the right-hander’s normally superb splitter was subpar, as a hanging offering resulted in Gregorius’ home run. Mize struggled mightily with home runs (2.22 HR/9) and walks (9.8% BB) a year ago, and Saturday was no different.
Nathan Eovaldi (SP, Boston Red Sox): 4 IP, 7 H, 4 ER, 0 BB, 3 K (3/14)
While the line is ugly, Eovaldi can take a number of positives from this outing. Boston’s flamethrower hit 100 MPH with his four-seamer ten times (averaged 99 MPH), a sign that the right-hander is healthy and in sync with his mechanics early in spring action. An interesting development was the number of curveballs for Eovaldi, as the 31-year-old threw 13 curveballs while shelving his cutter, only using it six times. This could just be a one-off but Eovaldi’s breaker offers a nice separation in velocity and was dynamic last season, recording .153 wOBA (.161 xwOBA) last season.
Spencer Turnbull (SP, Detroit Tigers): 4 IP, 3 H, ER, 2 BB, 4 K (3/14)
Turnbull rode his four-seamer (37% CSW) in a solid outing against the Orioles yesterday. However, Turnbull still threw his sinker 22% of the time (14% CSW), the second most used pitch for him on the day. Given that a year ago the right-hander’s slider (43.1% whiff, .177 wOBA) was his best pitch by a wide margin, it would be nice to see a tradeoff of sinkers for more breakers.
Carlos Martínez (SP, St. Louis Cardinals): 4 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, BB, 3 K (3/14)
Carlos Martínez brought his blistering fastball to the table against the Mets, averaging 94 MPH — even touching 98 MPH. The heater wasn’t enough to overcome the top of the Mets’ lineup in the opening inning, however, as Martínez surrendered two runs on four hits. But he was able to settle down after that, despite shockingly not registering a single swing and miss on his slider or changeup. The 29-year-old will be in St. Louis’ starting rotation — at least to start the season — and is a high-risk, high-reward pick late in drafts.
What to Watch for Today
SPs to watch on TV today:
Ryu: CH = chases?
Boyd: 92+? SL + CH good?
Sixto: No sinkers plz
Urquidy: SL + CB whiffs?
Domingo: Still cruising?
Scherzer: Be dope
Dustin May: Any whiffs?
Mills: Hitting corners?
Cease: Command fixed?
Snell: SL + CB for strikes?
Pivetta: Still alive?
— Nick Pollack (@PitcherList) March 15, 2021
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)