Welcome to the spring training recap for March 4! 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 15 games, so let’s get right to it!
- Chris Sale is not expected to get Tommy John surgery.
- Aaron Judge underwent more tests on his ailing pectoral and shoulder per manager Aaron Boone.
- Danny Santana will be the primary center fielder for the Texas Rangers in 2020.
- Cody Bellinger has recovered from his back injury and will play today against the Oakland A’s.
- Griffin Canning will get a second opinion on his right elbow today.
- Steven Matz threw a side session yesterday and should be able to start Saturday.
- Tyler Beede has both a flexor and UCL sprain in his right elbow.
- Aroldis Chapman will make his Grapefruit League debut tomorrow.
Top Hitting Performances
Harper ripped his first two homers of the spring against the Pirates. Both were prodigious blasts, one way over the right-field fence and another that soared majestically into the left-center field bank. Harper had a ‘down’ year in 2019 with 35 HR and a 125 wRC+ — it just speaks to how talented the $330 million man is. Hopefully, we get to see Harper fulfill his talent in a hitter-friendly park in Philadelphia.
Realmuto quietly had himself a 3-for-3 afternoon, composed of a home run and two singles from the leadoff spot. Fantasy’s best catcher in 2019 could possibly start the season setting the table while Andrew McCutchen is out — something that would boost Realmuto’s counting stats as he generates more volume.
Peter O’Brien (OF, Atlanta Braves): 2-for-3, 2 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI, K
O’Brien was a second-round pick by the Yankees in 2012 due to his massive power. In that time, the power has stayed, but limited contact has hindered his ability to break through into the majors. What’s interesting here, though maybe he’s implemented it prior, is that his second home run off of Chris Stratton was in a two-strike count where O’Brien used a no-stride swing. Who knows, maybe the Braves use him as Ender Inciarte and Adam Duvall are the only players that stand before him early on this season.
Another standout from the Pirates-Phillies game yesterday afternoon was Bryan Reynolds, who got on base in all three of his plate appearances. Reynolds attained a .296 xBA last season and will hit in the middle of the order this year which provides room for optimism, though the lowly Pirates might not give him many RBI opportunities.
Bichette doubled his hit total prior to yesterday’s game in spring action, highlighted by a shot down the right-field line for a bases-clearing triple. The young Bichette continues to amaze and will be highly sought after in fantasy leagues.
Bradley’s scorching spring continues, as he’s now 7-for-17 with two home runs and a 1.297 OPS in Grapefruit League play. If Bradley keeps this up, he might just convince me to draft him again, only to have my heart broken … again.
Here was our list of starters to watch from yesterday’s games:
SPs to watch on TV today:
Glasnow: Splitter? Overall cmd?
Soroka: SL/CH for whiffs?
Flaherty: In rhythm with FB/SL?
Woodruff: Still 97mph up?
Cease: FB & 2ndary cmd?
Bundy: Lots o’ SLs and CH please
Bumgarner: 91mph + CB increase?
Cueto: IS HE GOOD?!
— Pitcher List (@PitcherList) March 4, 2020
Here’s how they fared:
In direct contrast to Johnny Cueto’s outing, Kershaw had all his stuff working against a significantly inferior lineup. Kershaw broke out the big breaker for a couple of strikeouts while also generating weak contact. He also made his mistakes count, generally liners right at shortstop Corey Seager. Kershaw continues to age gracefully, though you wonder how the Dodgers might manage him to stay fresh for the postseason.
Glasnow attacked Blue Jays hitters with his blazing fastball and soul snatching curveball to success. However, Glasnow was inefficient with his pitches and developing a third reliable pitch — he threw a split-finger to Joe Panik in the first inning — will be vital to helping him reach stardom.
Mike Soroka (SP, Atlanta Braves): 2.2 IP, 3 Hits, 3 ER, 2 BB, 2 Ks
Soroka was really good upfront facing the minimum over the first two innings before facing some trouble in the third — a single followed by a home run from Cole Tucker, then exiting after a walk which eventually scored on a subsequent Josh Bell dinger. The young right-hander should brush this off and lock in to try and outdo his remarkable rookie campaign.
Flaherty faced the Mets for the second time this spring and the results were far different. Flaherty allowed the first three men he faced to reach, resulting in two earned runs in the opening frame. He settled in after, though an RBI triple from Eduardo Nunez in Flaherty’s fourth and final frame was a sour note to end on. Look for Flaherty to bounce back in his next start as he’s too high caliber an arm to struggle again.
While Woodruff only amassed one strikeout against the White Sox, he garnered plenty of weak contact en route to a no earned run outing. Woodruff has gained plenty of helium in his draft stock due to his certainty in the Brewers rotation and superb expected metrics profile.
Like Nick pointed out yesterday, Cease felt much more comfortable operating in the lower parts of the zone than up. In two of his five strikeouts, Cease was able to get Keston Hiura and Avisail Garcia to fan on fastballs away, roughly belt high. Outings like these show the potential Cease has and makes him an intriguing arm for this season.
Bumgarner was roughed up in this one due to a lack of command. A three-run home run given up to Francisco Lindor was on a slider that sat in the middle of the plate. Generally known as an adept control pitcher, Bumgarner should be able to right the ship with his new NL West team.
Against the strength and might of the Dodgers’ lineup, there is little margin for error. Unfortunately for Cueto, there were too many pitches in the middle of the plate, particularly A.J. Pollock’s two-run double in the first and Justin Turner’s two-run blast in the third. Besides the lack of command, Cueto’s changeup had arm side nice fade and in the second inning, the slider had good depth. We should see better execution as the spring progresses.
What to Watch for Today
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
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)