Big team-friendly extensions, Gerrit Cole’s neck workout, and Chris Sale’s elbow dominated the news yesterday. Here are the highs and lows from March 5:
- Christian Yelich inked a seven-year, $188.5m extension
- Chris Sale was diagnosed with a flexor strain in his elbow and shut down for a week
- Yoan Moncada and White Sox agree to five-year, $70m extension
- Collin McHugh signed a one-year, $600,000 deal with Red Sox
- A.J. Puk (shoulder) was cleared of structural damage
- Oscar Mercado sprained his left wrist
- Yeolkis Cespedes will become a free agent on March 18
- The Angels fired longtime visiting clubhouse manager for “furnishing illegal substances to put on baseballs”
Top Hitting Performances
Rhys Hoskins (1B, Philadelphia Phillies): 2-for-2, HR, 2B, BB, R, 2 RBI
Okay, so Hoskins might not have deserved that double. It came on a popup to catcher that got lost in the sun, but he deserves credit for running hard and getting to second base. We won’t know for a few more weeks whether his offseason swing changes improved his popup issue, but at least he cleared the fences yesterday. The walks are going to come either way.
Alex Kiriloff (OF, Minnesota Twins): 2-for-2, HR, R, RBI
Kiriloff hit his second home run of the spring yesterday, a 9th inning shot off of Orioles’ pitcher Cole Sulser. He came in off the bench yet again and has clearly been up to the task of hitting against the journeymen or minor leaguers he’s seen. Whether Kiriloff can show off his skills against better opposition and get some more defensive work are the questions in need of answers for him this spring.
Johneshwy Fargas (OF, New York Mets): 4-for-4, HR, 2B, 3B, 2 R, 2 RBI, SB
Yes, a 25-year-old prospect who has yet to reach AAA ball and was released from the Giants’ system over the offseason hit for the cycle and stole a base yesterday. Fargas has stolen more than 45 bases in three separate minor-league seasons, including the past two. And then there’s also this tidbit:
Besides having an awesome name, my favorite Johneshwy Fargas fun fact is that he’s the most recent player to hit a two-out, down-by-three, two-strike walk-off grand slam in professional baseball (September 1st, 2018 for the Giants’ Class A+ San Jose team). https://t.co/j6Y13VeMUQ
— Lucas Apostoleris (@DBITLefty) March 5, 2020
Fargas deserves to be remembered already. And with a track record like his, don’t count out the possibility that he’ll give us more reasons, no matter where he’s playing this year.
Kyle Tucker (OF, Houston Astros): 3-for-3, HR, 2B, R, 2 RBI
Tucker has not gotten off to the hottest start to Spring Training, but this performance is definitely a step in the right direction. He still has just a .158/.190/.368 triple slash so far, and his two extra-base hits today were his first. Look to see if he can right the ship and impress new manager Dusty Baker going forward.
Miguel Cabrera (1B, Detroit Tigers): 2-for-3, 2 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI
Miguel Cabrera is the most recent non-Mike Trout “best player in baseball,” but hasn’t been nearly the same since an injury-riddled 2017 season. But, he’s reportedly in the #BSOHL, and anything can happen in the spring. It should come as no surprise that he took Gerrit Cole deep twice yesterday.
Travis Demeritte (2B, Detroit Tigers): 2-for-3, 2 HR, 2 R, 4 RBI
Demeritte floundered in Detroit last year after heading there in the Shane Greene trade, hitting just three home runs and notching a -0.4 fWAR in 48 games. So it should come as no surprise that he too took Gerrit Cole deep twice yesterday.
Nick Solak (2B/3B/OF, Texas Rangers): 2-for-4, 2 2B, 2 RBI
Solak’s draft stock has been heating up largely thanks to reports that he might take the centerfield job in Arlington, but his bat hasn’t quite been as hot this spring. Even after this two-double performance, he’s sitting at a paltry .125/.250/.308 triple slash. But he’s unlikely to lose any chances this early, and with Danny Santana sporting a .296 OPS so far, it’s not like Solak has been the only slow starter. More good days should come.
Kevin Cron (1B, Arizona Diamondbacks): 3-for-3, HR, 2 RBI, R, BB
Cron hasn’t been setting Spring Training on fire, but he turned in his first standout performance yesterday. He’s posted OPS+ numbers of 137 and 182 the last two years in AAA, but struck out 35.9% of the time in his 78 MLB plate appearances last year. He’ll have to bring his AAA game to unseat Christian Walker for the starting job in the desert.
SPs to watch on TV today:
Cole: Cool cool cool no doubt no doubt
Mize: Um, I want to see everything
Buehler: 2ndary stuff = whiffs?
Peralta: New SL command?
Castillo: SL for strikes?
Darvish: Still 97/98 & FB command?
CarMart: Surviving without walks?
Plesac: SL getting whiffs?
— Pitcher List (@PitcherList) March 5, 2020
Yu Darvish was a late scratch and was taken to the hospital with flu-like symptoms. We still got more than our share of drama from potential aces without him.
Gerrit Cole (SP, New York Yankees): 2 IP, 6 Hits, 6 ER, 1 BB, 3 K
Was Cole’s pitching skill located in his facial hair? We can’t answer that. But whatever he was doing, especially low in the zone, was absolutely not working. Cole still struck out three, so it’s not like everything fell apart. But we’ll need to see how he handles this outing, his first giving up six runs or more since giving up eight to the Rangers on April 20 of last year.
Casey Mize (SP, Detroit Tigers): 2 IP, 0 Hits, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K
If it was hard to watch Cole’s outing for Yankees fans, they should have been equally terrified of what Mize was doing to their hitters. His fastball was sitting between 94 and 96 mph, but the highlight of his start might have been striking out Miguel Andujar with a curveball that dropped right into the middle of the zone for a called strike. The last real question for him will be when we get to see him in MLB action.
Walker Buehler (SP, Los Angeles Dodgers): 2 1/3 IP, 3 Hits, 2 ER, 2 BB, 2 K
Buehler gave up a solo shot to Matt Chapman in the first and was generally less sharp than expected through his twelve batters. He had a clear second inning, but put two on in the third before he got his out. That second run was scored on a sac fly, but the bigger takeaway was that things weren’t all clicking. He personally said that he felt he threw “too many hittable pitches” and that his velocity might have been down. The trends are worth monitoring, but three hits don’t merit an emergency.
Freddy Peralta (SP, Milwaukee Brewers): 2 2/3 IP, 2 Hits, 3 ER, 3 BB, 2 K
This outing didn’t start terribly for Peralta. He walked Joey Votto in the first inning but struck two out. But he walked one and hit one in the second before the doors came off in the third. Four of the five batters he faced hit the ball to center resulting in two flyouts, a home run, and a double. Peralta openly talked about how his mechanics were an issue, and his command clearly suffered as a result.
Luis Castillo (SP, Cincinnati Reds): 3 IP, Hits, ER, 1 BB, 2 K
The bad: Castillo allowed consecutive doubles to start the game.
The good: he struck out five of the next ten batters he faced, walked one, and gave up zero hits. He threw seven pitches in the second and still got two K’s — and he was getting them with both his slider and his changeup.
I’d say “good” has it this time.
Carlos Martinez (SP, St. Louis Cardinals): 5 IP, 2 Hits, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K
If there was even a shred of remaining doubt about Carlos Martinez’s role this year, this should end it. Even with the Cardinals’ defense behind him, two hits on fifteen balls in play might be unsustainable. But we wanted to see if he could get by without walking anyone. And by that metric, this is an easy pass.
Zach Plesac (SP, Cleveland Indians): 4 IP, 3 Hits, 1 ER, 0 BB, 4 K
The Indians did not give up a single hit after Plesac left the game, but that should do nothing to make his performance less impressive. He did give up a solo shot to Brandon Belt. But the basepaths stayed exceptionally clear, which helped him to go four innings. The strikeouts were there, which is probably the best sign, but this was the Giants.
What to Watch for Today
SPs to watch on TV today:
Erod: SL/CT command
Miley: CH usage up?
Manaea: new SL working?
Giolito: SL for strikes / 94mph?
Gausman: Splitty good?
Lindblom: SHOW ME WHAT YOU GOT
Brady Singer: Cool cool
Braves TBD: Maybe a fun prospect?
— Pitcher List (@PitcherList) March 6, 2020
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)
Oops typo (I hope) – Johneshwy Fargas “*hit” for the cycle.
Peralta looked good, actually, given that his mechanics were indeed clearly an issue. Walks were on uncalled third strikes to Votto. One double was the CF taking a bad route. Home run was popped over the wall. Runners he left weren’t stranded. This may hurt his push for the rotation (or may not, since Counsell saw what I did) but it didn’t take the shine off his makeover.