We’re almost a week into Spring Training and this is starting to feel, dare I say, normal again. Every day, PitcherList is providing an overview of the top news and performances of the previous day’s games. Tuesday was chock full of news, including some performances from MLB’s biggest stars—so without further adieu, let’s jump into it.
- After tearing his ACL during the 2021 season, it appears Ronald Acuña Jr. is targeting late April to get back on the field, according to manager Brian Snitker. Atlanta plans to have the perennial MVP candidate utilize the universal DH rule upon return with a plan for him to return to the outfield by late May. Pitchers Charlie Morton and Mike Soroka have made progress on their injury returns as well with Morton seemingly coming back closer to Opening Day.
- The “ghost runner” rule will continue through at least the 2022 season as the MLB and MLBPA came to a tentative agreement to keep the rule in place, pending ratification by the owners. Along with the extra-inning rule, the sides also agreed to expanded 28-man rosters through May 1st and hold off of the 13-pitcher roster limit until at least the end of April.
- After trading for Matt Chapman, the Blue Jays bought out their new third baseman’s final two seasons of arbitration with a two-year, $25 million extension. The move doesn’t extend the team’s control of Chapman, but rather avoids arbitration for the next two seasons. Toronto also managed to avoid arbitration with two of their young stars after coming to agreements with Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Teoscar Hernández.
- The Nationals avoided arbitration with one of the best bats in baseball, signing Juan Soto to a one-year, $17.1 million deal on Tuesday. Washington also signed first baseman Josh Bell to a $10 million contract to avoid an arbitration hearing.
- The Red Sox avoided an arbitration hearing with their star third baseman Rafael Devers on Tuesday, coming to an agreement on an $11.2 million deal. The 25-year-old Devers is set to become a free agent following the 2023 season.
- Not to be outdone, the Mets avoided arbitration with a young star of their own, inking power-hitting first baseman Pete Alonso to a $7.4 million contract to avoid his first year of arbitration.
- After unloading the likes of Sonny Gray and Jesse Winker, it appears the Reds will be without another weapon when the season gets underway as Luis Castillo is unlikely to start Opening Day after shoulder soreness and travel delays hindered the start of the right hander’s Spring Training.
- Defensive stalwart Kevin Pillar signed a minor league contract with the Dodgers on Tuesday. The veteran center fielder will make $2.5 million if he makes the active roster.
- In the midst of a whirlwind of trade rumors, Sean Manaea and Frankie Montas both signed one-year contracts with the Athletics to avoid arbitration. The deals are worth $9.75 million for Manaea and $5.2 million for Montas.
Top Hitting Performances
Ben Gamel (OF, Pitsburgh Pirates): 2-for-2, HR, RBI, 2R
Going 2-for-2 with a home run alone is enough to land yourself among the top performers on Tuesday, but for the Pirates’ Ben Gamel, his memorable day didn’t stop there. After launching a home run in the fourth inning, Gamel quickly gathered his things and made his way to the hospital where he and his wife Lauren welcomed their first daughter Delilah.
Ben Gamel was taking his final at-bat before leaving to be with his wife, who's due to give birth to their first child.
He homered on his way out. ❤️ pic.twitter.com/h1msXuXL8Q
— MLB (@MLB) March 22, 2022
Nick Maton (2B, Philadelphia Phillies): 3-for-3, RBI, 3R, SB
After debuting in 2021, Maton is off to a hot spring in 2022. On Tuesday, the 25-year-old notched three hits (including a double) and swiped a bag. Maton also managed to score all three times he reached base.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (1B, Toronto Blue Jays): 3-for-3, 2 RBI, R
On top of inking a fresh contract to avoid arbitration, Guerrero had himself a day at the plate to celebrate. 2021’s MVP runner-up reached base safely in all three of his at-bats on Tuesday, driving in three runs and scoring a run of his own.
Ildemaro Vargas (3B, Chicago Cubs): 2-for-3, HR, 2 RBI, R
2021 saw Vargas suit up for three different teams before eventually sticking with the Cubs. Vargas helped his case to stick on the roster this year with his performance on Tuesday which featured a second-inning home run and two RBI.
¡Arepa Power, BAMBINAZO de 2 carreras de Ildemaro Vargas! 🇻🇪@ildemaro_tigre pic.twitter.com/9bsckaKzqH
— Cachorros de Chicago (@cachorros) March 22, 2022
Nick Solak (2B, Texas Rangers): 2-for-3, HR, RBI, R
A home run in the second inning highlighted Solak’s day on Tuesday. The second baseman played left field with new signing Marcus Semien manning second.
Top Pitching Performances
Jacob deGrom (SP, New York Mets): 2 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 5 K
deGrom picked up right where he left off on Tuesday. The Mets ace fanned five of the seven batters he faced en route to a stellar start to his Spring Training. 24 of 30 pitches found the strike zone, showing the flamethrower seems to be dialed in despite it being his first appearance of 2022.
Jacob deGrom said Max Scherzer told him "how 'bout you flip in a first-pitch curveball" in between innings.
deGrom did it and looked over at Scherzer and laughed. pic.twitter.com/BhAGdTx3UZ
— Jacob Resnick (@Jacob_Resnick) March 22, 2022
Lucas Giolito (SP, Chicago White Sox): 3 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 K
Giolito came into camp with 20 pounds of added muscle and it appeared to translate into performance on Tuesday. He sat mid-90s on his fastball, striking out four hitters and not allowing a run. Just two Brewers reached base—a walk and a hit—as the right-hander impressed.
Rich Hill (SP, Boston Red Sox): 2 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 2 K
The 42-year-old Hill is back with the Red Sox in 2022 and looking to continue what has become the poster child career for late bloomers. In his spring debut Hill looked like the pitcher the sported a 3.86 ERA a year prior, holding the Rays scoreless and striking out two batters on Tuesday. Hill’s fastball sat comfortably south of 90 mph with his curve hovering in the mid-60s.
Max Fried (SP, Atlanta Braves): 3 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 1 K
Fried may not have flashed the stuff that led to a 23.7% strikeout rate in 2021 on Tuesday, but he still impressed. The Braves southpaw pitched three perfect innings against the Twins, shutting down Minnesota’s bats.
Max Fried, 96mph 🔥 pic.twitter.com/aPKHOcH8bp
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) March 22, 2022
What to Watch for Today
What to watch from SP on TV today
Eduardo – CH whiffs?
Eovaldi – Good secondaries?
Berríos – 95mph? Good CB?
McClanahan – Heavy SL & CB usage?
Bieber – OMG. 94mph? Good FB command?
Kershaw – 90/91?
Stroman – SL whiffs?
Gore – 96+? Good command?
Burnes – Mmmmmm
Mahle – Good SL?
— Nick Pollack (@PitcherList) March 23, 2022
Graphic by Michael Packard (@artbyMikeP on Twitter & IG)