Welcome to the spring training recap for March 24th! 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. Real, live baseball is only 7 days away! Let’s see what we may have missed yesterday with only 1 week remaining.
- White Sox outfielder Eloy Jiménez left the game with a left shoulder injury after trying to rob a home run.
- Houston Astros and RHP Lance McCullers agreed to a five-year, $85 million contract extension
- Blue Jays INF/OF Cavan Biggio has been experiencing right pinkie discomfort after taking a ball to the hand on Monday.
- Tigers LHP prospect Tarik Skubal will start the year in the rotation
- Nationals RHP Stephen Strasburg ruptured a left calf tendon, but will apparently not miss any time
- Rays reliever Nick Anderson revealed he’s been dealing with elbow issues this Spring.
- Cardinals OF Harrison Bader has a forearm injury and will start 2021 on the IL
- Pirates LHP Steven Brault has been shut down for a month with a lat strain
Top Hitting Performances
Bo Bichette (SS, Toronto Blue Jays): 3-for-3, 2 HR, 3 R, 2 RBI
Bichette wasted no time getting started against the Yankees, cracking a 2-out solo homer off New York starter Deivi García in the 1st inning. He then added another solo shot courtesy of Luis Cessa in the 5th in nearly the exact same spot as the first one. They were Bichette’s first home runs of the Spring, and the young shortstop has been looking locked in at the plate, batting .289/.400/.500 with 6 RBI and 3 SB so far. He’ll square off with the Yankees again next Thursday on Opening Day.
Austin Riley (RF, Atlanta Braves): 2-for-3, 2 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI
Riley was bullying Pirates starter JT Brubaker, crushing a 442 ft solo homer in the 1st inning and added a 2-run shot in the 4th inning. Riley has been getting work at both 3B and in the outfield in order to maximize his versatility and ability for manager Brian Snitker to deploy him. Riley hasn’t been able to put it together at the major league level just yet, but he’ll get another chance to in 2021 batting towards the bottom of a stacked Braves lineup.
Ryan Zimmerman (DH, Washington Nationals): 2-for-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI
It warms my heart to see Zimm back at the plate and raking. Zimmerman went yard twice yesterday, taking Astros starter Jake Odorizzi deep in back to back innings. Zimmerman has been a hitting machine this Spring, batting .474/.524/1.368 with 5 HR and 12 RBI. It seems clear Zimmerman hasn’t missed a beat, but without the DH in the National League, he will most likely start the year off the bench in deference to offseason acquisition Josh Bell.
Sean Murphy (C, Oakland Athletics): 2-for-3, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, BB
Murphy contributed nicely to Oakland’s 14 run scoring extravaganza, taking White Sox starter Lance Lynn deep in the 1st – a home run that coincidentally caused Eloy Jiménez’s injury – and also added a RBI double in the 6th inning. Murphy underwent two different surgeries for a collapsed lung earlier in the year, but he appears to be back to full health and ready to be the everyday backstop for Oakland.
Justin Upton (LF, Los Angeles Angels): 2-for-3, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, SB
With the luxury of hitting behind both Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon, Upton thrived against KC. After a single in the 2nd inning, Upton launched a 3-run homer into the left field seats off of Royals reliever Jonathan Bowlan. The homer secured the game for the Angels as they triumphed 4-2. Upton even showed his wheels aren’t too rusty yet when he swiped a bag in the 2nd. The veteran outfielder will handle everyday LF duty for the Halos and has the enviable position of hitting 5th behind David Fletcher, Shohei Ohtani, Mike Trout, and Anthony Rendon.
Carlos Correa (SS, Houston Astros): 2-for-5, 2B, HR, R, 3 RBI
Amid rumors of the Astros reportedly offering him a contract extension, Correa showed off just how valuable he can be. A 2-RBI double in the 4th coupled with a solo homer in the 9th helped pad the lead for Houston who would eventually win 11-8. Correa has been enjoying a very productive Spring and is looking to rebound from his dip in production in 2020.
Christian Yelich (LF, Milwaukee Brewers): 1-for-2, HR, R, 4 RBI, BB
The Brewers would eventually lose this one 9-8, but it certainly was no fault of Yelich’s. The left fielder helped contribute to Rockies starter Jon Gray’s nightmare outing by launching a grand slam in the 3rd inning to make it 503 Brewers. An elite outfield bat from 2018-19, Yelich struggled mightily in 2020 hitting only .205/.356/.430. While a .786 OPS is not terrible, it is far below the production we have come to expect from Yeli. I for one have already bought my tickets for the 2021 Christian Yelich bounceback hype train.
Carlos Martínez (SP, St. Louis Cardinals): 6.0 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 5 K
C-Mart looked absolutely beastly in this one despite mixed results this Spring. It appears the Cardinals are dedicated to keeping Martínez in the rotation, so hopefully the constant pull between rotation and bullpen will help clear his mind. Martínez topped out at 95.2 MPH with the 4-seam, a pitch he threw 20 times on the day and registered a 25% CSW on it. It was an impressive outing especially going up against what looks almost identical to the Mets’ Opening Day lineup.
Nathan Eovaldi (SP, Boston Red Sox): 5.2 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, BB, 3 K
Eovaldi enjoyed his first clean outing of the Spring, blanking the Orioles through 5 and change innings. Racking up only 3 K on the day, Eovaldi still looked sharp with his pitches and controlled the zone well. The Red Sox will happily sign up for a full year of 2020 Eovaldi, a season where he registers a 3.72 ERA and a 26.1 K%. He along with Garrett Richards and Eduardo Rodriguez will be tasked with holding down the fort until Chris Sale can return.
Zach Davies (SP, Chicago Cubs): 4.1 IP, 3 H, ER, 2 BB, 8 K
Davies has been an absolute force this Spring. In 4 starts he’s thrown 13.1 IP allowing only 1 earned run while striking out 12. The 7 walks are a bit unsightly, but Davies is still very much in control with a 1.05 WHIP. With Yu Darvish shipped off to San Diego, the Cubs will be relying heavily on Davies and Kyle Hendricks to keep this rotation afloat. Davies has been a steadily improving pitcher since 2018 and 2021 already looks like it could be another step forward for him.
Anthony DeSclafani (SP, San Francisco Giants): 4.0 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, BB, 8 K
“Tony Disco” looked excellent on Wednesday against the Padres, issuing only 1 free pass and the only blemish being an opposite field home run courtesy of Wil Myers. He’s allowed only 1 run in each of his 3 starts this Spring as he has ramped up his pitch count and has held opponents to a meager .216 BA. DeSclafani had flashes of brilliance throughout his years in Cincinnati and the Giants will look to harness that when they hand him the ball every 5th day.
Dinelson Lamet (SP, San Diego Padres): 1.0 IP, H, ER, 0 BB, 0 K
This pitching line may not look terribly exciting, but Lamet was making his Spring debut after being plagued by elbow issues since last season. Lamet did give up a solo home run to Donovan Solano, but wasn’t looking affected by his injuries, topping out at 98 MPH and tossed couple of offspeed and breaking pitches as well. Lamet’s health is crucial to the Padres, who already have an insanely good rotation and are only better with Lamet healthy.
Jake Odorizzi (SP, Houston Astros): 1.0 IP, 6 H, 7 ER, 2 BB, K
Odorizzi was a late signee in Spring Training, signing with the Astros on March 8th in the wake of Framber Valdez’s finger injury. The rust was clearly showing in this one, as Odorizzi gave up 4 home runs on the day and only struck out 1 in his 11 batters faced. Unsurprisingly, the team announced that Odorizzi would not make the Opening Day roster and would work on getting stretched out at their training site. Given his late arrival to Spring Training, it makes sense for the Astros to skip him for a turn or 2 through the rotation.
What to Watch for Today
SPs to watch on TV today:
Smyly: 94 mph?
Wacha: 94/95 mph?
Cease: Command better?
Weaver: New SL good?
Bundy: Still high CSW?
Akin: Better SL/CB?
Ponce de Leon: CBs for strikes?
Urquidy: SL/CB/CH whiffs?
Dustin May: Whiff pitch?
Alzolay: Command better?
Moore: Is he good?
— Nick Pollack (@PitcherList) March 25, 2021
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)