Welcome to the spring training recap for February 28! 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. Yesterday had 14 games so let’s get right to it!
- Yasmani Grandal (knee) is expected to return soon.
- Frankie Montas (Covid-19) is progressing nicely and feels he should be back to full strength soon.
- Tommy Pham feels he is “80 percent back physically” while recovering from his November stabbing incident.
- The Red Sox are hopeful Hirokazu Sawamura and Franchy Cordero can join the team’s workouts on Wednesday.
- Manny Machado underwent laser eye surgery this offseason.
Top Hitting Performances
Keston Hiura (1B/2B, Milwaukee Brewers): 1-for-3, R, HR, 3 RBI, 2 K
Hiura’s Sunday line is par for his career so far – a home run accompanied by two strikeouts. And while Milwaukee’s young star has tons of power in his bat, it also comes with a lot of whiffs as last season Hiura struck out roughly 35% of the time. Now moving to first base following the signing of Kolten Wong, Hiura will need to produce even more to keep similar fantasy value and that will come if he makes more contact.
Myles Straw (OF, Houston Astros): 2-for-2
Straw hit singles in both of his at-bats against the Marlins out of the leadoff spot. While the line is uninspiring, Houston’s new center fielder could end up being the team’s leadoff man according to manager Dusty Baker. Straw’s electric speed makes him a traditional fit at the top of the order and with potentially more plate appearances while hitting in front of José Altuve, Yordan Álvarez, Michael Brantley, and Carlos Correa, the 26-year-old could be worth a look at the end of fantasy drafts.
Joey Gallo (OF, Texas Rangers): 1-for-2, R, HR, 2 RBI
Gallo did what he does best, blasting a home run to right-center field off Royals’ starter Ervin Santana in the first inning of Sunday’s contest. Texas’ slugger struggled mightily last season hitting only 10 home runs with a disastrous .297 wOBA. However, with the short 2020 season and playing in the new Globe Life Field, Gallo should be given the benefit of the doubt in 2021 drafts.
Trey Mancini (1B/OF, Baltimore Orioles): 1-for-2, K
It was a beautiful scene in Sarasota, Florida, when Mancini got a standing ovation from the crowd prior to his first at-bat after missing the 2020 season in recovery from Stage 3 colon cancer and subsequently hitting a single to center field. Since Mancini is coming off a superb 2019 season in which he hit 35 home runs and drove in 97 men, the soon-to-be 29-year-old should be considered in the middle rounds of the draft.
Gregory Polanco (OF, Pittsburgh Pirates): 1-for-3, R, HR, 3 RBI, K
Polanco has never reached the heights his talent suggested, mostly because of injury, but 2020 was a new low recording a 41 wRC+. Polanco’s home run landed over the left-field wall and came off lefty Fernando Abad, a good sign in trying to put away his paltry 2020 season. With the emergence of Philip Evans last season, Polanco should be in a platoon to start the season but could easily break out of that role given his ability.
Austin Meadows (OF, Tampa Bay Rays): 1-for-2, R, HR, 2 RBI
Meadows followed up his superb 2019 season with a poor four-homer 2020 campaign. After reportedly losing 10-15 pounds this offseason, Meadows is seemingly dedicated to putting last year’s worries to bed — and he’s off to a good start after hitting a two-run homer in his second at-bat on Sunday.
Zac Gallen (SP, Arizona Diamondbacks): 2 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, K
It wasn’t Gallen’s cleanest effort as he allowed four men to reach in his couple of innings, two on walks in the first and two more on singles in the second. The 25-year-old right-hander took another step in 2020 after keeping his sterling 28% strikeout rate while cutting his walks to 8.3% of the time, so Sunday’s outing seems more of an anomaly than anything else.
Cal Quantrill (SP/RP, Cleveland): 2 IP, H, 0 ER, BB, K
Quantrill was solid as an opener against the Reds, where the right-hander projects to be a reliever to start the season. Though with Carlos Carrasco now with the Mets, the final two spots in Cleveland’s rotation are now up for grabs with Triston McKenzie and Logan Allen the most likely. However, that is far from certain as McKenzie struggled with his fastball velocity after his first few starts last season while Allen hardly pitched in 2020. With Cleveland’s pitching development and Quantrill’s plus stuff, this is a situation definitely worth monitoring.
Triston McKenzie (SP, Cleveland): 1.2 IP, 2 H, ER, 2 BB, 2 K
Cleveland’s top pitching prospect piggybacked off Quantrill but did not have the same success, conceding an RBI single to the Reds’ Joey Votto in his first inning of work. McKenzie had great success in 2020 with a 3.24 ERA (3.90 FIP/ 3.60 xFIP) and a staggering 26.0% K-BB, but an area of concern was his dipping fastball velocity towards the end of the season. In addition to his notable injury history, the tall, lanky right-hander will need to ease concerns of fantasy managers with a solid spring.
Austin Gomber (SP, Colorado Rockies): 2 IP, H, 0 ER, 0 BB, K
Gomber was sharp on Sunday, his first start with the Rockies since coming over from St. Louis in the Nolan Arenado trade. While moving to Colorado is undoubtedly bad for fantasy viability, the left-hander does show some upside if he can fix his drastic reverse-splits from last season — .509 OPS v RHP, .710 OPS v LHP. That could happen if he decides to throw his changeup against left-handers as he did not throw a single one against same-sided hitters last season. Considering Gomber’s changeup is the only pitch he consistently gets to the inside half of left-handed hitters, the usage of the change should be monitored in his remaining starts this spring.
Chad Kuhl (SP, Pittsburgh Pirates): 1 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K
After allowing the first two men to reach, Kuhl was able to strike out the subsequent three Orioles hitters to get out of the jam. The 28-year-old struggled with command last season walking over 14% of hitters he faced, but does possess two plus breaking pitches. If Kuhl can throw more strikes and get a reliable fastball option, there is upside to be had.
What to Watch for Today
SPs to watch on TV today:
Garrett Richards: Is he in control?
Jameson Taillon: Good feel for his stuff?
Trevor Bauer: Not allowing a lot of HRs?
Alex Cobb: Anything new? (he went to Driveline)
Aaron Nola: YES
Gerrit Cole: WATCH ON YES
— Nick Pollack (@PitcherList) March 1, 2021
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)