Welcome to the spring training recap for March 1st! 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. Yesterday had 14 games – and three ties. Everybody loves a tie!
- Xander Bogaerts (shoulder) had an MRI that showed ‘nothing concerning’ in light of Sunday’s scare
- Joe Maddon announced that Shohei Ohtani will make his first pitching appearance of the spring on either Thursday or Friday
- Brandon Woodruff will not make his first Cactus League start on Tuesday, citing back soreness
- Mets manager Luis Rojas announced that Brandon Nimmo is likely to be the club’s leadoff hitter to start the year
- The Kansas City Royals announced a 4-year extension for the reliable Hunter Dozier
Top Hitting Performances
Shohei Ohtani (DH, Los Angeles Angels): 2-for-3, 2R
It was great to see Ohtani out there smacking a pair of singles, even if one was a bit of a lucky ground ball through the first base side. After a rough adjustment to the shortened 2020 season (.190 AVG, .657OPS, 7HR), many in the industry seem down on the one-time super prospect entering 2021. But he looks stronger this spring, and has said in interviews that he feels good about where he is at. The Angels need him to be what the baseball world thought he was going to be before injuries derailed his first few seasons. He’s still just 26 years old.
Carter Kieboom (3B, Washington Nationals): 2-for-3, 1 3B
The 23-year old Kieboom is an important player for the Nationals this year. Though his first two major league showcases were mostly disappointments, he’s still a top-level prospect, and there’s a spot for him in the Nationals infield if he shows well in the spring. Steamer predicts a jump in 2021 – .242 AVG, 12 HR, 50 RBI – on the assumption that he secures a near-everyday spot. The kid needs to carpe that diem.
Brandon Nimmo (OF, New York Mets): 2-for-3
Having been declared by Mets manager Luis Rojas as the likely lead-off hitter to start the year, Nimmo projects to get the distinct privilege of hitting in front of the stellar 2-5 of Jeff McNeill, Francisco Lindor, Michael Conforto, and Pete Alonso. It’s a tasty proposition for a guy coming off a relatively solid 2020 (.280 AVG, .888 OPS, 8 HR), and a strong spring would make all parties involved feel pretty cozy about the lead-off spot come April.
Wilson Ramos (C/DH, Detroit Tigers): 2-for-3, R, HR, 2 RBI, K
Once considered one of the great catchers in the game, the 33-year old Ramos is is only two years removed from putting up strong numbers with the Mets in 2019 (.288 AVG, 14 HR, 73 RBI). Most projections have him hitting 4th or 5th in the Tigers rotation, and although it isn’t exactly Murderer’s Row down the middle of the lineup, it should still offer him a solid opportunity at building up his counting stats. From a fantasy perspective, he is worth keeping in eye on, at least when taking into account the consistent crapshoot that is the catcher position
Matt Olson (1B, Oakland Athletics): 2-for-3, R, HR, 2 RBI
Though he’ll likely never be in contention for a batting title, Matt Olson loves him some dingers, and should be a good bet for 30+ in 2021. Hitting out of the 3-spot on Monday – ahead of Matt Chapman – Olson hammered an unrecorded moonshot that A’s manager Bob Melvin suggested hit 116 on exit velocity. That is an absolute moonshot, and is consistent with what good Matt Olson can do. Let’s see more good-Matt Olson this year, yeah?
Gavin Lux (2B, Los Angeles Dodgers): 2-for-3, R, RBI
Although he’s unlikely to get a starting position in the lineup out of the gate, don’t forget who Gavin Lux is. The former #2 overall MLB prospect knows he has a lot to prove this year, and if he is able to make the jump that the baseball world expects of him in 2021 – then that Dodgers lineup becomes even more unfair.
Trevor Bauer (SP, Los Angeles Dodgers): 2 IP, H, 0 ER, 2 K
It was a solid first effort in the blue-and-white for Bauer, who was up to his usual tricks. He buckled some knees with the curve, the pitch on which he net both strikeouts. He yielded a single hit, and was hit hard to left once – but overall, he had some solid whip on his stuff. Projected to throw third out of that absolutely ridiculous Dodgers rotation, Bauer is in line for 15 wins and 200+ K’s on the season – and should be a whole lot of fun to watch do it.
Gerrit Cole (SP, New York Yankees): 1 IP, 3 H, ER, BB, K
To be honest, it wasn’t the best first outing of the spring for Cole. But it was just that – the first outing of the Spring. He still threw some ridiculous stuff in the outing, and was clearly trying to work out some of the kinks with battery mate Gary Sanchez. It’s March 1st and everything will be just fine.
Jameson Taillon (SP, New York Yankees): 1 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, K
Projected the start the year as the Yankees #3 starter, Taillon looked good in his first Spring showing in a very small sample of seven pitches. He threw some good-looking stuff, including a nasty curve, though his velocity was at 91 mph mostly, with two exceptions at 92 mph and 93 mph. He sat 95 mph prior to his surgery, but you have to imagine Taillon took in slow in his first official appearance in two years. Although injuries always seem to be a concern for the one-time top prospect, his last full season – 2018, in which he threw 191 innings and went 14-10 with a 3.20 ERA – are an important reminder of what peak-Taillon can be. Let’s hope we get to see that this year.
Garrett Richards (SP, Boston Red Sox): 2 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, K
Unequivocally, the best thing about Richards Monday start was the moustache he went to the mound sporting. I mean, look it up – the thing is absolutely legendary. Unfortunately, he wasn’t so great on the actual bump, and let a flimsy facsimile of the Braves lineup (outside of Acuña Jr. and Albies) knock him around a bit. He was actually rescued by the new mercy rule, which saw the Red Sox halt the inning at 23 pitches. Considering he’s in line to be the club’s #3 starter come April, it wasn’t the best start. But, as he said after the start – “it’s building blocks…”
Aaron Nola (SP, Philadelphia Phillies): 2 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 1 HR, K
One would not have expected Nola to be taken deep by the Orioles’ D.J. Stewart in his first Spring start, but such are the days of our baseball lives. It obviously wasn’t a great start for the Phillies ace, but he didn’t seem all that concerned in his post-game interview. The Phillies are going to be an interesting case study in the uber-competitive NL East this year, and how Nola performs is going to go a long way in determining where they net out.
What to Watch for Today
SPs to watch on TV today:
Mize: I want cutters
Brubaker: Slider = filthy?
PabLo: I also want cutters
Framber: Still just FB/CB?
Alzolay: Still violent mechanics?
Arihara: First look!
Heaney: FBs up consistently?
Greene: Is he dealing 🔥🔥🔥 ?
— Nick Pollack (@PitcherList) March 2, 2021
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)