Welcome to the spring training recap for March 8! 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 relatively quiet Monday, with just 9 games on the docket.
- Jose Martinez (meniscus) will be out for four months after an accidental tangle with a first base umpire on Sunday.
- Lorenzo Cain (quad) has been shut down for at least a week, but the Brewers are hopeful that he’ll still be good for opening day.
- The New York Mets and superstar Francisco Lindor will begin extension talks this week. The 27-year old has previously stated that he does not want negotiations to carry into the season, so the parties have less than a month to get something ironed out.
- Atlanta starter Mike Soroka pitched two innings of a simulated game over the weekend, as he aims to rejoin the roster sometime in May.
Top Hitting Performances
Yes, I started this roundup with Corey Dickerson. Though 2020 was the weakest year overall of his career (.258 BA, 7 HR, .713 OPS in 194 AB), Dickerson still stands a very strong chance of hitting from one of the top two spots in the Marlins lineup. He is hitting well so far this spring (.417 AVG, 3 R in 12 AB), and should be a solid bet to contribute an average in the .270s and touch 20 HR. He’ll need speed to be a fantasy consideration, though.
W-Hit will hit out of the catbird seat once again for the Royals, and is easily their most reliable hitting threat. He is a nasty 6-for-11 thus far in the spring, and looks awfully confident at the ripe age of 32. Hitting in front of a sneakily-improved Kansas City lineup this year, Merrifield could figure to be a threat for 90+ runs and 30+ SBs. There’s some talk that he could be a trade chip for the Royals to play mid-season — and if he gets the right opportunity as such, his value will only continue to skyrocket. He is currently going at ADP 41.0 in TGFBI drafts. Oh, and he gave this hilarious response to a question about how the Royals can get off to a good start this year.
The veteran first baseman had an awful 2020 campaign, and the Royals may represent the last chance for him to stick in a starting role in his mid-30s. If he gets the chance to hit out of the 3-spot behind Merrifield and Adalberto Mondesi, he’s going to get RBI chances. Of course, it’s tough to get an RBI when you walk something like a quarter of the time.
Javier Baez (SS, Chicago Cubs): 2-for-3, 1 R, 1 HR, 3 RBI
El Mago is looking to bounce back from a disastrously poor 2020 campaign, and with 2021 serving as a contract year, he’s a pretty darn good candidate for later down your draft board. He absolutely tattooed a Sam Gaviglio offering in the 5th (listen to that bat!), and has looked confident this spring (.417 BA, 5 RBI in 12 AB). If you trust in Steamer, they have him projected for 30 HR and 81 RBI on the campaign. I wouldn’t put it past him.
You absolutely love to see young players step into opportunities in the spring, and take full advantage of them. 23-year old Nico Hoerner has done just that thus far, hitting a downright scintillating 9-for-13 with 3 RBI and 2 SB. He’s getting noticed, and although he isn’t a power threat, he’s a good bet to hit above .270 and steal some bases in an otherwise slow Cubbies lineup. An everyday spot at 2B or SS (wherever Javy isn’t) will only help that.
You know the man. Coming off an MVP-quality campaign, Corey Seager is a UFA after 2021 — and he is going to cost someone a lot of money. If he can emulate last season’s trajectory — .300+ AVG, 40+ HR, .943 OPS), he’ll be yet another weapon in the Dodgers’ ridiculous arsenal. Plus, chances are he’ll hit behind Mookie — and you’ve gotta like the guy who gets to hit behind Mookie.
Julio Urias (SP, Los Angeles Dodgers): 3 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K
Hype train incoming! After a LOL-worthy first inning (he required only 4 pitches to sit the side), he sat every single batter he faced en route to a pleasant 26-pitch Monday afternoon. There isn’t an obvious spot in the Dodgers Mount Olympus-quality rotation heading into the year, but Urias has got to have the inside edge on #5. He’s steadily climbing draft boards (consensus #35 SP), so be prepared to pay the piper for a fifth starter if this continues.
Zach Plesac (SP, Cleveland): 3 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 4 SO
Plesac looked strong against a rather pedestrian Mariners lineup on Monday, which was a nice reset after getting whacked around for 3 runs in 2 IP against the D-backs in his first Spring start. Although it’s safe to say 2020 was his true ‘breakout,’ there are plenty of reasons to believe that the 26-year-old can continue on in the tradition of outstanding young Cleveland starters. Just don’t tell that to projections systems: Steamer has him at an extremely pedestrian 9-10 with a 4.72 ERA and 1.33 WHIP in 2021. That would, as the kids say, really suck.
We see you, Caleb Smith. We see your solid three-inning performance. We see your 2020 regression, and the opportunity the Diamondbacks are giving you in the rotation in 2021. We’re hopeful that you can take advantage of that, but maybe doubt it, on the basis of your increased fly ball rate and consistent hard contact allowed numbers. But we’ve got our fingers crossed for you
Monday’s performance was peak Zach Davies — see a 1st inning in which he yielded three ground ball outs on five pitches — and the Cubbies new #2 has still yet to yield a run in 5 IP this spring. Coming off a career-best year in 2020 (7-4, 2.73 ERA, 1.06 WHIP), it’s tough to imagine the soft-tosser emulating those numbers in front of a weaker Cubs lineup. But all of these robot projections need to put a little respect on the name of a guy who has only had a 4.00+ ERA once in his six-year career in the big leagues. Plus, he gets to watch what is essentially the prototype version of himself every six days, in Kyle Hendricks. Why not bet on him again?
What to Watch for Today
SPs to watch on TV today:
Pivetta: Still 95+ mph?
Maeda: I Kenta get enough
Kremer: Whiffs with CB?
CarMart: 95+ mph?
Snell: SL & CB for strikes?
Lynn: Still 94+ FBs?
Weaver: How's the new slider?
Houser: Solid FB command?
Wood: 91+ mph? New CH?
Gray: SL & CB getting strikes?
— Nick Pollack (@PitcherList) March 9, 2021
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)