Spring Training Recap 2021: March 19-21

Everything you need to know about yesterday's spring training news and performances.

Welcome to the Spring Training recap for the past weekend, March 19th to the 21st! 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!

 

News

 

 

Top Hitting Performances

 

Jarren Duran (OF, Boston Red Sox): 4-for-5, 2 R, 3 RBI, SB (3/19)

Duran was money on Friday, showing off his newly found hitting potential with four hits while chipping in a stolen base to remind us of his 70-grade speed. Boston has enough outfield depth to keep Duran in Triple-A for the early part of the season, but at this rate, expect Duran to be a major force once we reach the middle of the season.

 

Billy McKinney (OF, Milwaukee Brewers): 2-for-2, 2 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI (3/19)

McKinney hit a couple of home runs to start off the weekend, bumping up his spring total to three. While this game was nice, McKinney is blocked by Milwaukee’s depth in the outfield and at first base, however, a strong finish to the spring could put him on the radar for other clubs since he is out of minor league options.

 

Michael A. Taylor (OF, Kansas City Royals): 2-for-3, R, K (3/20)

Taylor continues to pile on the hits, recording his second multi-hit effort of Cactus League play. While he is slashing .423/.516/.846 this month, Taylor was caught stealing in this game as he’s now 0-for-2 in stolen base opportunities. While there’s no obstacle for the veteran outfielder for playing time in Kansas City, it would be nice for Taylor to find his groove on the basepaths, his biggest asset in the fantasy realm.

 

Matt Olson (1B, Oakland Athletics): 3-for-4, R, HR, 4 RBI (3/20)

Olson’s been scorching of late as the left-hander now has a four-game hit streak running, the last being a three-hit game. Totaling five home runs and four doubles amongst his 13 hits in March, Oakland’s star first baseman is seemingly ready to forget the struggles of 2020 and have a strong 2021.

 

David Bote (3B, Chicago Cubs): 2-for-3, 2 R, 2 HR, 5 RBI (3/21)

After going 3-for-20 to start the spring, Bote’s been red hot as he’s recorded three two-hit games amongst his past four starts. Though, unlike the other two, Bote got his hits from a pair of home runs — the first on a hanging splitter from Tyler Mahle that was yanked down the line, and the second off a Jesse Biddle fastball over the center-field wall. The utility infielder hits the ball hard — 92.4 MPH average exit velocity and 52.3% Hard-Hit rate in 2020 — but unfortunately, a lot of that is on the ground (50% GB last season). But the biggest mark against Bote is his playing time, as the Cubs have a number of full-time regulars in their lineup.

 

Jazz Chisholm (2B/SS, Miami Marlins): 2-for-2, R, HR, 2 RBI (3/21)

Chisholm was perfect at the plate on Sunday, including a home run against Astros reliever Enoli Paredes in the sixth inning — the deciding factor in the game. He has outperformed the struggling Isan Díaz (.083/.290/.208) this month, seemingly putting the former ahead of the latter in the pecking order at the keystone. If he gets the job, Chisholm will need to cut down the strikeouts — nine in 28 at-bats this spring, 30.6% K last season — to stick as regular.

 

Pitching Roundup

 

Here was our list of starters to watch from the past weekend:

Here is how some of them fared:

 

Taijuan Walker (SP, New York Mets): 4 IP, H, 0 ER, BB, 3 K (3/19)

Walker faced the minimum over four innings against St. Louis on Friday, erasing the couple of baserunners he allowed by inducing a pair of ground ball double plays. The Mets’ free-agent acquisition struck out three in large part to the slider (44% CSW), registering five whiffs on eleven swings against the pitch. However, Walker would improve substantially if he threw more first-pitch strikes, where he only got seven in 12 opportunities (58.3%) which is roughly where he sat last season (56.9%).

 

Ian Anderson (SP, Atlanta): 4.1 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, BB, 9 K (3/19)

Despite struggling in his fifth inning of work, giving up two runs on four hits, Anderson threw a lot of strikes as he struck out nine Twins hitters while walking only one. Since the young right-hander has struggled with walks for most of his professional career, yielding free passes near a 10% clip in the minor leagues, this outing was promising. Anderson will need to build on the outing and continue pounding the zone to maximize his ability.

 

Steven Matz (SP, Toronto Blue Jays): 5 IP, 5 H, ER, 0 BB, 6 K (3/20)

Matz surrendered his first earned run of the Spring on an RBI double from Bryce Harper, but was otherwise solid across five innings. Averaging 94 MPH on his heater (36% CSW), the left-hander used the few whiffs he got on his changeup (four on 16 swings, 18% CSW) to go unscathed against the Phillies. The former Met didn’t show off a good curveball (20% CSW) in this one but did use it to strike out Matt Moore looking in the third inning. You’d hope he gets a reliable offspeed pitch to work in tandem with the two-seamer — if not, it’s going to be a long year for him.

 

Michael Wacha (SP, Tampa Bay Rays): 4 IP, H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K (3/20)

Wacha kept the Twins off the board on Saturday night and has not allowed a run in seven innings this month. The right-hander averaged 93.5 MPH on the fastball (12% CSW) — peaking at 94.9 MPH — which provided great separation to then register swings and misses with the changeup (40% CSW, 4/7 Whiff). Wacha seems ready for the regular season as a member of the Rays’ rotation.

 

Scott Kazmir (SP, San Francisco Giants): 3 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, BB, 4 K (3/21)

For a guy that hasn’t pitched at the major league level since 2016 and is now 37 years old, Scott Kazmir put up an impressive performance against most of the Dodgers’ regulars yesterday. While it wasn’t a clean outing, the veteran southpaw did a great job challenging hitters routinely with his fastball, blowing away Cody Bellinger and then dotting a heater inside to Mookie Betts in the third for strikeouts. While he isn’t projected to make the Giants’ roster, manager Gabe Kapler said the team is preparing Kazmir for a swingman-type role.

 

Shohei Ohtani (SP/DH, Los Angeles Angels): 4 IP, 2 H, ER, 2 BB, 5 K (3/21)

This was utterly ridiculous. Ohtani’s stuff was on point — a 101 MPH fastball, a mind-bending slider, and a filthy splitter to go with it. He also led off for the Angels, reaching base in all three of his plate appearances — 2-for-2 with a walk. Please stay healthy Shohei, baseball needs you.

 

Carlos Rodón (SP, Chicago White Sox): 4 IP, H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 5 K (3/21)

Carlos Rodón, the man that doesn’t walk people. Wait, what? The guy with a 10% walk rate in the majors? Yes, that guy. The left-hander has three outings (nine innings) this month and has not yielded a free pass while striking out 10. Rodón worked on his lower half mechanics to not throw as crossfire as he previously has, in an effort to keep himself healthy and to throw more strikes. Furthermore, his slider (31% CSW) was effective in this outing, striking out David Peralta and Daulton Varsho swinging on it. Pairing that with a dominant fastball (51% CSW), Rodón looked the part of a starting member in the South Sides’ rotation.

 

What to Watch for Today

 

Featured image by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)

Jai Correa

Jai Correa is an alumnus of UMass Amherst. He is incredibly passionate about the Red Sox, Indian cricket and economics.

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