Mining the News (4/13/22) | RotoGraphs Fantasy Baseball

The in-season Mining the News will generally be focused on players who could be available on the waiver or could be dropped. There will be little to nothing on the likes of Gerrit Cole and Mike Trout. I just don’t have the time to grind out the information on players who, no matter what, will just remain in a fantasy team’s lineup.

american league

stars

• Chas McCormick and Jose Siri will be sharing the centerfield job.

McCormick started against right-handers and Siri against lefties, but Baker didn’t commit to that going forward.

“Just depends on who I think the matchup is best for and what kind of defense that we need,” he said. “They’re both going to play. Everybody is going to play here. I don’t like guys going too long without playing.”

blue jays

• Santiago Espinal bulked up to hit the ball harder.

Espinal’s bulk-up was by design, though, and it was noticeable from the first glance at him down in Dunedin, Fla., for Spring Training. The 5-foot-10 infielder has come up as a pro with a naturally small build, but he packed on 15 pounds of muscle over the winter with one thing in mind: hitting the ball harder.

“I’m so glad that we came up with the plan so I can build more muscle to drive the ball more,” Espinal said. “I drive the ball way better than I did last year. I give a lot of credit to my team.”

Mariners

• Diego Castillo will pitch in “big spots”.

But if Seattle can count on Castillo to get important outs late in games on days when Sewald and Steckenrider aren’t available, well, that bullpen — despite the loss of Sadler — could still be very formidable.

“He’s going to get a chance to pitch in a lot of big spots for us,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said.

rangers

• Dane Dunning threw his changeup more.

In 2021, Dunning used the changeup just 13 percent of the time, per Statcast. It was his third-most-used pitch from him, but he still utilized far less than both his sinker and slider. Against the Blue Jays, he threw 16 changeups, making up 22% of his total pitches.

“It’s been something that I’ve needed to do,” Dunning said. “It’s been kind of the plan going in this season to utilize the change more, just get people off the sinker-slider combo. The changeup plays great, so, hopefully, I’ll be able to incorporate it a lot more throughout the season.”

His changeup has always been productive (career 17% SwStr%, 54% GB%), but it has been an afterthought with a 13% usage.

royals

• Brad Keller has added a changeup.

A meeting with pitching coach Cal Eldred, bullpen coach Larry Carter and assistant general manager/research and development Dr. Daniel Mack before the lockout solidified how much a changeup would enhance the effectiveness of [Keller’s] other pitches against left-handed hitters.

A changeup, they had known for some time, could only help Keller’s other pitches against lefties. The challenge: Could they find a grip with which Keller could feel comfortable?

This offseason, Keller discovered what he called a “slip” pitch. He gripped the baseball in his palm but did not have to stress his fingers to do so. He also locked his wrist, so the ball essentially slips out of his hand.

Keller could use a change of pace pitch and this change gives him that, but not much more. Here are the comps for the pitch.

A couple of notes. First, a 10% SwStr% on a change isn’t even average, but the comps do have a decent groundball rate.

Second, his 2021 changeup was one of the comps given. Of the eight factors I compare, the biggest difference was its spin rate going from averaging 1999 rpm to 1695 rpm. The spin rate decline will cause the ball to sink more thereby generating more swings-and-misses and groundballs.

Tigers

• Wily Peralta will be used out of the bullpen.

The Tigers are planning to use Wily Peralta in relief this season, writes Evan Petzold of the Detroit Free-Press. The righty started 18 of 19 appearances with Detroit last year, posting a solid 3.07 ERA but an underwhelming 14.4% strikeout rate.

twins

• Jhoan Duran will be used in multi-inning high-leverage situations.

You couldn’t have drawn it up any better for Duran, the rookie reliever. Following Friday’s electric, two-inning performance in his major-league debut, Baldelli suggested Duran would pitch in a variety of roles for the Twins. Immediately, the ninth inning became a possibility for a team without a dedicated closer.

Though he’s just a rookie, Duran features some of the best stuff in baseball. But because he’s a rookie, the Twins hoped to break him into closing out a game without it being too high leverage of a moment.

And some more information on the subject from another article.

How they employ Duran after Opening Day remains to be seen. But Baldelli already suggested Duran could wind up in a bigger role quickly if he performs.

“We’re gonna use him like that,” Baldelli said. “There might be times where he goes an inning. There might be times when, just like anyone, anyone could move into a different role as the season goes on. But we’re gonna need several guys to go out there and give us two, or maybe even more than that, as we play out these games.”

• Chris Archer is feeling healthy.

Archer immediately touched 95 mph with his fastball in his first Spring Training start, and any questions about whether he could maintain that into the regular season were seemingly resolved when he came out in the first inning on Tuesday and topped out at 95.5 mph on the radar gun, already harder than any pitch he threw last season.

He says it’s the best he’s felt in two years. Baldelli was with the Rays when Archer had his peak as a youngster in Tampa Bay, and the skipper saw shades of that two-time All-Star on the mound on Tuesday.

National League

brewers

• Andrew McCutchen plans on attacking the first pitch more.

McCutchen said that over the winter, for the first time, he really dug into some numbers regarding which pitches he did the most damage on and when in the count that occurred. I have looked at the numbers from last year. He compared them with a stretch of his best years, from 2012-15.

“And what it really showed over those years was, I was just really more aggressive early in the count,” McCutchen said. “And I think a lot of that had to do with being in the middle of the order, the three-hole guy. But switching over to lead off, sometimes you can become more passive. So that’s pretty much what happened to me in Philly, and even a little bit before that, too.”

• Kolten Wong will bat down in the order against lefties.

Counsell had a conversation with Wong during spring training, explaining the rationale behind the decision. Wong, a left-handed batter, said he was cool with it. The Brewers, who were not good against lefties last year (.706 OPS, 23rd in baseball), want to stack their right-handed batters against them.

“For me, at this point, I just want to win,” Wong said. “With the way our lineup should be against left-handed pitching, it’s just something that made the most sense.”

Cardinals

• Ryan Helsley will be used in high leverage situations.

“For me, he’s one of the most impressive guys,” Schumaker said Saturday after Helsley whiffed three batters over 1 1/3 innings. “When you’re seeing 100 with off-speed for strikes, he’s going to be a huge part of this bullpen. Seeing him in leverage positions and leverage situations already early on in the season shows what we think about him. A healthy Ryan Helsley is a really good thing for us.”

The Cardinals aren’t expected to use a traditional closer this season, though they have yet to find themselves in a save situation. There will still be roles in the bullpen, like McFarland as the setup man against right-handers and Gallegos and Génesis Cabrera in high-leverage, late-inning situations. But Helsley will factor into that spot as well, and he could help transform the bullpen into a serious threat.

Dodgers

• Andrew Heaney changed his spot on the rubber and added a sweeper.

So, the Dodgers have stuck him back in the middle — “Fuck it,” Heaney said, “split the difference.” They looked at footage from previous seasons and motion capture technology to diagnose the elements of his mechanics that had eroded. His body had become too rotational pre-pitch, his hips almost facing second base before his momentum carried him to home plate. His arm slot was off, and inconsistent, leaving him unable to put his best pitch, his fastball, in optimal locations. The baseball had been too easy to see out of Heaney’s hand, allowing opposing hitters the ability to spit on his secondary offerings from him.

That breaking ball has since been mothballed in favor of a pitch that has gained popularity within the organization among the likes of Blake Treinen, Julio Urías, Evan Phillips as well as prominent pitching prospect Ryan Pepiot: the “sweeper.” … It’s a slider thrown with a two-seam grip known for its significant horizontal movement.

giants

• Heliot Ramos reworked his swing in order to get more pull power.

Ramos has prodigious power to the opposite field but he hasn’t tapped into his pull side yet. It was apparent in the spring that he worked hard to change his swing from him, use his legs and drive the ball with more than upper-body strength.

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