Welcome to the spring training recap for March 23! 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. Tuesday was an unfortunate day on the injury front, but still featured some exciting game action as well.
- Fernando Tatis Jr. (shoulder) gave everyone a scare when he left Tuesday’s game with discomfort after fielding a grounder. Fortunately it sounds like a catastrophe was averted, but we should know more when he is re-evaluated Wednesday.
- Zac Gallen (forearm) received a second opinion on Tuesday and was diagnosed with a hairline stress fracture in his right forearm. Manager Torey Lovullo says Gallen will be able to play catch at low-stress levels while recovering, but does not have a firm timetable for his return.
- George Springer was somewhat surprisingly diagnosed with a Grade 2 oblique strain. He has reportedly been playing through the strain, and early returns are promising considering the severity of the diagnosis. This is certainly something to keep an eye on.
- Kyle Freeland was diagnosed with a left shoulder strain after exiting Tuesday’s start mid-inning in obvious pain.
- Khris Davis left Tuesdays game with a left quad strain after beating out a bunt-single.
- Robbie Ray reportedly fell at home while carrying his child, and while the child is luckily fine Ray will miss his next scheduled start with a bruised left elbow.
- Kirby Yates will “most likely” undergo Tommy John Surgery, missing the entire 2021 season. It’s a tough blow for Yates, who signed a 1-year deal with Toronto after missing the majority of last season with a flexor strain.
- Julio Teheran (back) “feels good” after exiting Monday’s start early in a precautionary measure.
Top Hitting Performances
Francisco Lindor’s three-hit day carried the Mets to a 5-3 win over the Marlins on Tuesday. He ripped an RBI double down the left field line in the 3rd inning batting right handed, then launched a solo homer down the right field line in the 5th batting left handed. In fun-but-unrelated news, he also attempted the hidden ball trick in the 6th. The Mets prized offseason acquisition is slashing a robust .342/.390/.684 this spring and now has 4 HR and 11 RBI in 38 ABs. He’s without a doubt a top fantasy player, though whether he can successfully pull off the hidden ball trick remains to be seen.
Hiura hit two homers and drove in 3 on Tuesday, helping lead the Brewers to a 9-6 victory over the Dodgers. He hit a solo shot in the bottom of the first — the first of 3 solo homers hit off Walker Buehler in the inning — then hit a 2-run homer off Buehler again in the second inning. It’s been a sluggish spring for Hiura so far as he shifts over to first base for 2021 and looks to rebound from a poor sophomore season. This game was a reminder of just how good he can be.
Schwarber launched his 3rd homer of the spring against an otherwise-stellar Adam Wainwright as the Nationals and Cardinals played to a 5-5 tie. He later doubled in the 7th off of lefty Genesis Cabrera, giving him eight hits in 35 spring ABs. Of those eight hits though are three homers and two doubles. His homer today went 434ft according to Statcast, the furthest hit ball of the day. Perhaps more notable than his performance was his lineup position, as he hit sixth behind Starlin Castro in Davey Martinez’s lineup versus a righty.
Jake Lamb (3B, Atlanta): 2-for-3, 2 R, 2B, HR, 2 RBI
Jake Lamb doubled and homered as Atlanta’s 7-6 comeback against the Red Sox fell just short on Tuesday. His fifth inning double to left brought home Dansby Swanson, while his 7th inning solo-blast to center got out in a hurry. Coming into the game he was just 4-for-28 this spring so while he still seems to be the favorite over veteran bench bats like Pablo Sandoval, Jason Kipnis, and Ehire Adrianza, this showing was good to see.
“Hopefully that’s as bad as I am all year.” Buehler said after the game. That pretty much sums it up. After watching co-aces Clayton Kershaw and Trevor Bauer suffer similar fates vs the Brewers last week, Buehler was torched for 9 ERs in under 5 innings. Milwaukee has hit a combined 8 HRs against the Dodgers’ top-3 this spring. Though he still struck out 5, there is not much to take away from this outing. He did get up to 80 pitches, so at least there is development on that front. Otherwise, take this outing with a grain of salt — Buehler will be just fine.
Corbin Burnes shared the mound with Buehler, matching his 4.2 IP and fairing a bit better. He struggled with command in the first inning, giving up a two-run homer to Justin Turner and walking Cody Bellinger before getting bailed out by an inning-ending double play. He settled in after that, allowing just a single and a walk while striking out six in the following 3.2 innings. Burnes got up to 85 pitches and showed a consistent cutter throughout the afternoon. He is a lock for the Brewers #2 spot following ace Brandon Woodruff.
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) March 23, 2021
Stroman’s on-field accomplishments paled in comparison to the deal he made after the game, reportedly agreeing to acquire Devin Williams‘ airbender in exchange for his slider. While we will have to wait at least a game or two to see the results, Stroman continued to work on his new split-change in an inconsistent start vs the Marlins. He struggled to miss bats, allowing nine hits over five innings and a CSW of 29% on 76 pitches. He was primarily SI/SL (23 and 28, respectfully) and successfully mitigated quality contact despite the nine hits. He should have at least one more start to fully stretch out before the team leaves camp.
Daulton Jefferies (SP, Oakland A’s): 4.0 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 7 K
Daulton Jefferies continues to impress this spring as he makes a final push for an opening day rotation spot. The A’s top prospect was dominant on Tuesday, striking out seven and walking none over four shutout innings. He showed poise on the mound, striking out 3 straight in the second inning after allowing a leadoff triple to Josh Fuentes and now has a 20:3 K:BB ratio in 13 innings this spring. With Mike Fiers still rehabbing, it’s looking increasingly likely that Jefferies breaks camp with the team.
Logan Webb threw a gem on Tuesday with five innings of one-hit ball with seven punch-outs. He is another pitcher who appears to have taken a step forward this spring, having yet to allow a run in 11 innings so far. Whiffs have been the main issue for Webb in the past, with a middling fastball that rated near the bottom in CSW in 2020. He began to faze it out last season, opting in favor of a much more effective changeup, and early returns from this spring look promising — with a 17:1 K:BB ratio in those 11 innings. He’s likely to fill a rotation spot and is an intriguing back-end option that should get plenty of innings in 2021.
Kluber’s third start of the spring was a mixed bag, scattering six baserunners and allowing a run (unearned) in just shy of four innings against the Tigers. He got up to 71 pitches and appeared to have the Kluberball working well, but struggled to locate much else and and only sat in the low-90s with both his sinker and 4-seam fastball. After the game, Aaron Boone unsurprisingly confirmed that Kluber would be a member of the rotation. If healthy he should provide mid-rotation stability, though expectations should be tempered for the two-time Cy Young winner.
What to Watch for Today
SPs to watch on TV today:
Ian Anderson: Few deep counts?
Pineda: SL whiffs?
Eovaldi: Good FC?
Lynch: OH SNAP
Civale: Good 4S?
Caleb Smith: 92-93? Few walks?
Davies: Good CH?
Lamet: OH HEY – 97?
Tony Disco: Good SL?
— Nick Pollack (@PitcherList) March 24, 2021
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)