Spring Training Recap 2021: March 25

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

Welcome to the Spring Training recap for March 25th! 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. It was a full slate yesterday with 14 games so let’s get right to it!

 

News

 

 

Top Hitting Performances

 

C.J. Cron (1B, Colorado Rockies): 3-for-3, 2 R, HR, RBI

The 31-year-old slugger lit up Statcast against the Angels, with his home run off Dylan Bundy leaving the bat at 114.7 MPH and then roping a single to center at 111 MPH. All together, Cron finished 3-for-3 at the plate but a triple shy of the cycle. If the Rockies are smart, Cron should get all the at-bats at first base since he’s clearly the best option — and will consequently put up monster numbers with the Coors Field effect in play. However, it’s the Rockies — how do we know if Cron will actually play every day?

 

Austin Hays (OF, Baltimore Orioles): 3-for-4, 2 R, HR, 3 RBI, K

Hays fell a single short of the cycle against the Pirates, upping his average to .409 for the month (1.197 OPS). More importantly, Hays has collected eight extra-base hits — four doubles, a triple, and three home runs — this spring. After having a hard-hit percentage of 41.8% in 2019, that number dropped precipitously last season to 29.2%, right where it was in 2017 at 28.9%. Given the number of extra-base hits he has this month, you’d hope that he’s found his 2019 ability.

 

Jed Lowrie (2B, Oakland Athletics): 2-for-3, R, HR, 2 RBI

Coming into this game, Jed Lowrie only had four hits in 25 at-bats this month and had basically missed the past two seasons barring eight at-bats in 2019 for the Mets. The switch-hitting infielder delivered with two hits, including his second home run of the spring from the right side off Mariners starter Nick Margevicius. Even if this sparks a hot stretch for the remaining week of Spring games, Lowrie should start the season in the Minors but could be worth monitoring if Oakland’s woes at second base continue.

 

Bobby Dalbec (1B, Boston Red Sox): 1-for-3, R, HR, RBI, 2 K

Dalbec hit his seventh home run off a hanging Randy Dobnak slider, once again showing off his thunderous bat. However, the hulking right-handed first baseman struck out in his other two plate appearances, upping his strikeout total to 18 in 42 at-bats (42.9%) in Grapefruit League play — slightly elevated compared to the 42.4% strikeout rate he posted in 2020. Dalbec has the potential to move up the dynamic Red Sox lineup but that will only happen if the strikeouts get below 30%.

 

Will Smith (C, Los Angeles Dodgers): 2-for-4, 3 RBI, K

Will Smith continued his fine spring with a pair of RBI singles, as he now has 12 hits in 36 at-bats this month. The Dodgers’ backstop showed his immense ability at the plate last season with a .411 wOBA (.407 xwOBA), ascending himself towards the top of the catcher position hitting-wise. However, Smith will likely see a significant split in playing time with Austin Barnes, and without that volume, it will be hard for the 25-year-old to try and become fantasy’s best catcher.

 

Miguel Rojas (SS, Miami Marlins): 3-for-3, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI

Rojas now has two consecutive games with a home run — both of those multi-hit efforts. The 32-year-old should be a regular at shortstop for the Marlins this season but doesn’t hit the ball hard enough (87.3 MPH average exit velocity in 2020) nor steal enough bases (career-high is nine in 2019) to be anything more than an average-only asset in fantasy.

 

Pitching Roundup

 

Here was our list of starters to watch from yesterday’s games:

Here is how some of them fared:

 

Drew Smyly (SP, Atlanta): 5 IP, H, 0 ER, BB, 6 K

Smyly’s third outing this month was his best, striking out six over five scoreless innings. In racking up those punch-outs, Smyly did a masterful job of throwing his fastball glove side — inside to right-handers — often times hitting 94 MPH while doing it. Smyly roughly sat at 94 MPH on his four-seamer last season, and it was a large reason why the left-hander struck out 37.8% of batters. It then follows that the only thing standing in the way of high strikeout totals is health — a bugaboo for Smyly’s career to date.

 

Michael Wacha (SP, Tampa Bay Rays): 5 IP, 4 H, ER, BB, 5 K, HB

Opposing Smyly was Michael Wacha, who nearly matched the former over five-plus innings, but was charged with an earned run after Rays reliever Chaz Roe allowed the inherited runner to score on a two-run home run from Marcell Ozuna. Wacha also sat in the mid-90’s on his fastball, using it in tandem with his power changeup to retire Atlanta’s hitters with relative ease. The right-hander is projected to be Tampa Bay’s fifth starter, meaning he’ll face the Yankees at the Trop to open his 2021 campaign.

 

Luke Weaver (SP, Arizona Diamondbacks): 5.1 IP, 7 H, 7 ER, 2 BB, 8 K

Weaver had mixed results in his start against Kansas City yesterday, striking out eight Royals but also gave up seven runs. Most concerning of all were the three home runs conceded, as the right-hander has now given up eight long balls in 14.1 innings pitched this spring. Considering two of the home runs Kansas City hit came off fastballs (here to Jorge Soler and another from Carlos Santana) and a hanging curveball (this by Adalberto Mondesi), it was good to hear that Weaver was satisfied with his slider in this outing. With his other options waning, it’s important that Weaver has his slider working to keep the ball in the yard.

 

Dylan Cease (SP, Chicago White Sox): 5 IP, 3 H, ER, 4 BB, 6 K

Cease once again flashed his brilliance by striking out six but also walked four in the process. This obviously isn’t a surprise, as Cease walked 13.3% of batters last season, but after he didn’t walk a single batter in his first outing, he’s now walked seven and hit two batters over 8.2 IP — yikes. If Cease can keep his fastball around the plate more often — not even located well, just in the zone — it’ll allow him to attack with his slider more often, the pitch he struck out five Reds hitters with yesterday.

 

Adbert Alzolay (SP, Chicago Cubs):3.2 IP, H, 2 ER, BB, 5 K

Before struggling in the fourth, Adbert Alzolay was brilliant in the first three innings against the Dodgers, including striking out the side in the third. Most impressive of all was the one walk surrendered this outing, displaying the best command he’s had this spring. Considering Alzolay has a fourth Minor League option, he likely won’t make the big league roster to start the season but inevitably be in the rotation relatively quickly due to the lack of quality backend options.

 

Dylan Bundy (SP, Los Angeles Angels):5.2 IP, 8 H, 5 ER, 0 BB, 7 K

The good news here is that Bundy registered a superb 36% CSW over 85 pitches, on his way to seven strikeouts. However, the right-hander also gave up two home runs in this outing, an issue that once plagued him in Baltimore but was fixed in his first season in Anaheim (0.69 HR/9). As long as Bundy is keeping the ball in the yard, he should be able to replicate last season’s success.

 

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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