MLB Short Season Strategy: Snapshots From Summer Camp July 12
Greg Jewett goes over the news and notes from Summer Camp around MLB as teams get ready to start the shortened 2020 season
Trying to stay up to date in an ever-changing world amidst a pandemic proves to be challenging for fantasy baseball players and fans alike. As this tweet addresses the fluid nature of return to play protocol and how it affects teams going forward:
Cam Gallagher had COVID-19 when he played in last night’s intrasquad game. No one knew it, of course. He didn’t have symptoms. But the next day, his most recent test came back positive.— Marc Carig (@MarcCarig) July 11, 2020
By playing, baseball isn’t trying to thread 1 needle. It’s trying to thread 1,800 of them. https://t.co/OzzPzCjrgC
Gallagher homered in the scrimmage for the Royals then his results came back positive. There’s no league wide stance on when a player can start working out when arriving at camp. This underscores the challenges facing teams like the Astros who shut down workouts on Saturday to clean their facilities to ensure safety going forward, what could be the ripple effect if this occurs during the 60-game season?
In an effort to surmise the tangible information across the league during summer camp, our snapshots series does its best to keep you informed. Here are some highlights from Saturday across the major leagues.
Toronto Blue Jays
Siphoning as much information as possible from all the summer camp contests can be important. Spring training games often provide insight as to where a batter could hit in the lineup or be used in the season ahead. So, tweets like this one which may foreshadow the batting order help:
Here's this afternoon's #BlueJays intrasquad lineup. Can't guarantee I'll post one each day, but this one was worth noting..— Hazel Mae (@thehazelmae) July 11, 2020
Now we're talking...
Guerrero Jr. 3
This backs up reports about Vladimir Guerrero Jr. shifting to first base, it also shows Travis Shaw hitting cleanup and Rowdy Tellez at designated hitter. However, spring training star Joe Panik making an appearance in left field should not be overlooked either. He’s trying to add to his versatility in order to make the 30-man in-season roster and if he adapts well to the outfield, it only enhances his chances. This lineup also highlights no Lourdes Gurriel Jr. at camp since the restart. Toronto will not comment about his absence but with each passing day, it’s likely he’s not ready for the start of the season on July 24th.
Last, for the Nate Pearson truthers:
Again, it’s fairly certain Toronto will keep him down at least seven days in order to gain service time for another season, but at some point Pearson will debut this season and fantasy owners await his arrival.
First the Orioles named Ryan Mountcastle to the 60-man roster then they toss out this teaser for the prospect chasers:
Under the lights for the first time at Camden. pic.twitter.com/tvA08Yjjhl— Baltimore Orioles ???? (@Orioles) July 12, 2020
There’s no truth to the rumor Matt Selz will make this his phone’s wallpaper, but his love for the talented catcher knows no bounds. This will be a lost season for Baltimore but the future shines brightly for prospects like Adley Rutschman and others.
Tampa Bay Rays
Building on yesterday’s tidbit on Tampa Bay, neither Yonny Chirinos nor Tyler Glasnow have appeared at summer camp yet clouding their status for Opening Day. Joining Jalen Beeks and Trevor Richards in stretching out is Anthony Banda . It’s going to take pitching depth to survive the sprint and Tampa’s ability to be innovative should help them overcome it in the long run. However, as days pass for Glasnow, losing starts could be an issue when viewing him as a longshot for the Cy Young Award.
Boston Red Sox
Manager Ron Roenicke will not rule out Eduardo Rodríguez for Opening Day but his positive test for COVID-19 keeps him in Miami and not working out with the team. Nathan Eovaldi continues to prepare for the start if Rodriguez cannot take the mound in Boston’s opener. As for the rotation, it’s wide open. Four to five could fill the roles in the rotation including Ryan Weber , Brian Johnson , Chris Mazza , Jeffrey Springs , and Matt Hall . Wait, who?
Six strikeouts in two innings for Jeffrey Springs , a lefty trying to earn a roster spot. I'm not making this up.— Ian Browne (@IanMBrowne) July 10, 2020
Veteran Collin McHugh suffered a slight setback, so his Opening Day status remains in the air, but it sounds like he’s not on track to be ready in less than two weeks. In case one wonders how to handle this rotation, it’s likely to be one we target with streaming hitters or in DFS at the onset of the season.
Some good news from camp regarding Jonathan Lucroy . He’s racking up hits and feeling good recovering from a neck surgery which affected his performance last season. A name to keep tucked away for in deep leagues with two catchers.
New York Yankees
Almost one hour after yesterday’s column was published, the reports of Aroldis Chapman testing positive for COVID-19 appeared on the Twitter timeline. It’s the nature of things in major league baseball but here’s the fantasy fallout from it:
With Aroldis Chapman having tested positive for COVID-19, Zack Britton would be a "natural guy" to install as the #Yankees closer, Aaron Boone said.— Bryan Hoch (@BryanHoch) July 11, 2020
Boone said that Chapman will not be with the team "for the foreseeable future."
With so many teams deploying a fluid high leverage model this preseason, at least New York provided a clear backup for saves when the season starts. This also moves up Tommy Kahnle and Adam Ottavino in the pecking order for holds along with a possible save if the team does not overuse Britton going forward.
As for the intrasquad scrimmage, Aaron Judge received the night off waking up with stiffness in his neck. It’s not reported as serious, but the list continues to grow of his ailments. Rain cut the contest short but both J.A. Happ and Clarke Schmidt toed the rubber:
Lines on today's starting pitchers:— Bryan Hoch (@BryanHoch) July 11, 2020
Happ 3 IP 2 H 1 ER 1 BB 4 K
Schmidt 2.2 IP 1 H 1 ER 3 BB 2 K
Beneath the radar in summer camp, Cleveland prospect Yu Chang continues to flash power in their games and hitting home runs against top pitchers:
Kansas City Royals
As noted in the introduction above, Kansas City catcher Cam Gallagher tested positive for COVID-19 further depleting the position with projected starter Salvador Pérez also sidelined by the virus. Less than optimal with Opening Day fast approaching.
During Saturday’s scrimmage, Bobby Witt Jr. continues to impress by making a highlight reel play on a backhand stab with a 360 throw to first. First, his prolonged at-bat earlier in the week and this play makes Royals hopeful for the future with Witt Jr. and the starting pitching prospects on tap in the years ahead.
From the “music to my ears” department, this nugget about Detroit’s scrimmage makes all the C.J. Cron shares owned feel warranted:
C.J. Cron, whose intrasquad game start allowed him to miss an abysmal first half from his favorite EPL club Chelsea, ends this game with a line drive home run just inside LF foul line off John Schreiber.— Jason Beck (@beckjason) July 11, 2020
With a grain of salt, it’s an intrasquad scrimmage but one way to mitigate his new home ballpark which depresses power will be pulling the ball. If Cron adapts to this, it could unlock his power potential in a shortened season making him a nice first base target or corner infielder later in drafts.
Late season nagging injuries harpooned the production of Eddie Rosario but makes for a unique buy low to an integral part of the Twins high powered offense. Plus:
The full Eddie Rosario experience, even behind a mask.— Aaron Gleeman (@AaronGleeman) July 11, 2020
Rosario said a big focus for him this season working with new hitting coach Edgar Varela is to improve his OPS and become more selective at the plate. pic.twitter.com/ITDCgkYAwK
During Minnesota’s intrasquad scrimmage, Homer Bailey opposed Rich Hill on the mound. Bailey worked 3.2 innings giving up two hits and two walks with three strikeouts on 70 pitches. Hill only needed 60 pitches to navigate 5.1 innings allowing two hits and striking out five. Efficiency will be a key to performance this year for starters in fantasy.
Chicago White Sox
While trying to garner all the tangible information on the timeline, it’s funny how information evolves. For instance, this seemed pretty innocent:
Robert goes deep off of Rodon and tips his helmet to the dugout. The first of what should be many for Robert at Guaranteed Rate Field— Scott Merkin (@scottmerkin) July 11, 2020
Until this video of the home run by talented rookie Luis Robert emerged:
Chicago’s game featured many home runs including a shot by Nomar Mazara . If the White Sox hope to contend in the Central, they will need production throughout the lineup and its pitching to hold up.
Los Angeles Angels
One day following his pitching debut in camp, Shohei Ohtani experienced back stiffness but remains hopeful to make his next scheduled start on the mound in camp. Ohtani looked alright in this video:
Sho with the double down the line ???? pic.twitter.com/ykRLa6FsL5— Los Angeles Angels (@Angels) July 12, 2020
Jo Adell continues to impress in big league camp following up his home run on Thursday with a single and a triple in Saturday’s contest. In the bullpen, Mike Mayers could break camp with the team and the expanded roster along with Jacob Barnes making good impressions with Joe Maddon.
Not much to report here since Houston shut down workouts on Saturday but they will return to action on Sunday after meeting protocol on cleaning up:
The Astros performed all cleaning protocols as laid out by Major League Baseball and will continue to follow said protocols and steps recommended by team medical personnel. https://t.co/8pY9Bthyor— Brian McTaggart (@brianmctaggart) July 12, 2020
Fantasy tease Franklin Barreto continues to mash in summer camp and playing his way into the lineup for Oakland:
It’s also nice to see Stephen Piscotty listed as a top performer of late. Many seek out Mark Canha late in drafts but a healthy and productive Piscotty could provide more batting average insulation in the 60-game sprint. In an effort to cheer up Howard Bender, here’s a look at his prodigy at first base, Matt Olson :
How Seattle’s bullpen performs could determine how its season goes. Although he’s underperformed to this point, take note of this nugget on Dan Altavilla :
Altavilla hit 99 mph multiple times on the stadium gun https://t.co/XRkDkALkd8— Ryan Divish (@RyanDivish) July 11, 2020
Another arm of intrigue for the Mariners will be Logan Gilbert. As the article suggest, he might have been making his debut in the majors around this time in a normal season but his outing on Saturday could push up his timetable in the shortened season on tap:
In an alternate universe, Logan Gilbert would have been making his MLB debut right around this time of the season. Instead, his first "start" at T-Mobile Park was a five-inning intrasquad scrimmage in which he allowed one run. (from @RyanDivish) https://t.co/mhc0En7fll— Seattle Times Sports (@SeaTimesSports) July 12, 2020
With many players on the roster playing catch up due to late arrivals, Jordan Lyles worked five innings throwing 80 pitches but allowed five runs on five hits and two walks with only one strikeout. Due to a scheduling wrinkle, Texas gets three off days in their first 11 days so Lyles could be skipped providing more time to get ready.
Joey Gallo looks to get as many swings as possible after his late arrival. Rougned Odor continues to stand out in summer camp homering off Lyles in the scrimmage and homering in three straight games. Trying to win the center field job, Danny Santana snapped out of a slump with a home run and a triple on Saturday after starting camp hitless in his first 13 at-bats. Without a position as of yet, Nick Solak tallied two more hits on Saturday and he’s nine for his last 19 in camp.
Kolby Allard turned around his camp tossing four innings with five strikeouts allowing an unearned run. He could be a valuable piggy-back option if needed for Lyles in early contests.
Hits to the rotation keep coming for Atlanta with their latest casualty:
New from #Braves manager Brian Snitker -- starter Cole Hamels was scheduled to throw a side today, but did not because of tricep tendonitis. Shoulder is fine. Snit says team is "a week away" from seeing where Hamels will be when season starts.— Justin Felder (@Justin_FOX5) July 11, 2020
A reminder, the bevy of arms in the system could buoy the team so how Kyle Wright and Bryse Wilson perform at the start of the year could determine how the Braves weather the storm. This also could expedite the promotion of Ian Anderson if the team needs his arm after the seven-day period to protect service time lapse.
During a zoom interview, manager Don Mattingly said any player on the Marlins 60-man roster could play this season. This proves intriguing with no minor league games and Miami teeming with young talent like Jazz Chisholm, J.J. Bleday, Lewin Diaz, Max Meyer, Edward Cabrera and Jorge Guzman could all make a debut at some point after the first seven days lapse to protect service time. Stay tuned.
New York Mets
Straight shooting from the horse’s mouth, here’s how Yoenis Céspedes feels about his health entering this truncated season:
Yoenis Céspedes: "I know for certain now that I will be ready [for Opening Day]. I'm very excited for the season to start in two weeks."— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) July 11, 2020
Within this Twitter thread, Cespedes said hitting major league pitching to him is akin to “riding a bike”.
Almost an afterthought in most drafts, Eric Thames appears to be the last man standing at first base for Washington with Ryan Zimmerman opting out and Howie Kendrick yet to be cleared to participate in summer camp. Lest we forget, Thames launched 23 home runs against right-handed pitching last year with a .529 slugging percentage against them.
Not to bemoan the fact, but Scott Kingery continues to work his way back after suffering from COVID-19 in June:
It’s apparent the disease affects many differently and while the team hopes Kingery can be ready on Opening Day, it’s tenable at this point.
One day after Eric Lauer reported to camp, he landed on the injured list (COVID-19). This reopens the door for one of Corbin Burnes or Freddy Peralta to win the last spot in the rotation. Due to Milwaukee’s predicted usage of their starters, the more valuable pitcher of the two could be the piggy-back option. No matter how it shakes out, this shot of Peralta yesterday stood out on Twitter:
St. Louis Cardinals
Paths to playing time come in many forms, but early camp injury issues cloud the future for others such as:
Dexter Fowler (sore back) missed a couple days here, will miss again tomorrow.#Cardinals are trying to plan with #KCRoyals to have an exhibition game at some point before opening day. Possibly July 22, though Shildt cautions it's not finalized. #stlcards— Derrick S. Goold (@dgoold) July 12, 2020
It’s been a difficult transition to St. Louis for Dexter Fowler since joining via free agency and many hope Dylan Carlson gets at-bats sooner rather than later for the team. Stay tuned to how all of this evolves.
Although it’s from Friday’s scrimmage, perhaps a sneak preview of “air” high fives this year when watching games:
Kyle Schwarber could benefit from the amount of right-handed pitching he and the Cubs will face in the Central contests. Keep tabs on Nico Hoerner vying for the second base job in camp for those in deeper formats.
Fantasy owners may be intrigued to know the new Pirates pitching coach Ocar Marin continues to draw rave reviews from the staff. Bringing a mix of analytics and a personable approach, one can see a difference with Mitch Keller working at the top of the strike zone:
Keller brings his prospect status to the forefront this year and the shortened season may allow his breakout. Stay tuned.
During an interview, at least one player on the Reds understands what type of impact the shortened season feels like due to his past:
Iglesias said a 45-game schedule in Cuba is like a long playoff schedule, that's how 60 games will be— C. ???????????? (@ctrent) July 11, 2020
Anchoring a deep bullpen, Raisel Iglesias will be a key member of the Reds in their attempt to win the division. He spoke out about his usage in 2019 then backed it up with an improved performance but his pitching coach, Derek Johnson, preferred fluid high leverage usage during his time in Milwaukee.
While trying to figure out how Cincinnati will deploy its outfield depth with time shared at designated hitter, could Joey Votto be on the precipice of a bounce back:
Joey Votto just made his first out of the summer -- 5 walks, 2 singles and now a strikeout— C. ???????????? (@ctrent) July 11, 2020
One cannot be sure, but it feels like Votto’s locked in right now during intrasquad scrimmages and in on-base leagues he’s a bargain at his present price point.
While focus on players and performance moves to the forefront, remembering the human aspect of them provides perspective. Starling Marte arrived at Arizona’s camp and after an interview with local reporters via zoom, he revealed thoughts of retirement after the death of his wife this past May. Support from his children and former teammate Gregory Polanco helped Marte find his way back to baseball. Here’s hoping he finds solace in the game like many of us do.
Los Angeles Dodgers
This could come back to haunt me but trying to target Dustin May in any redraft going forward remains a focus. Los Angeles projects to win more games than anyone else in the National League and needs his arm to accomplish this. Plus, just look at the filth:
Also, of note from Saturday Josiah Gray looked good as well for the Dodgers:
Getting used to no fans will be tough, but the sound of a mitt popping warms the soul.
San Francisco Giants
One way to handle the fluidity of the upcoming season for fantasy can be targeting players with multi-positional eligibility to overcome constant injury list stints. One name to keep in mind later in drafts, Mauricio Dubon :
By the way, yesterday Kapler rattled off a whole bunch of positions he hopes Dubon can play, including left, second and short, besides center. Again, my Dubon feature: https://t.co/yE80p0Xl0F— Henry Schulman (@hankschulman) July 11, 2020
His manager, Gabe Kapler, raves about his work ethic and being a sponge learning how to handle the outfield along with being able to play all over the infield. Dubon made quite a favorable impression last year during his debut after a trade from Milwaukee hitting .279/.312/.442 with four home runs and three stolen bases in 28 games.
Following up early reports about how Kapler will use the bullpen, Tyler Rogers notes he’s open to any high leverage work and looks forward to trying to procure any future save chances:
Tyler Rogers was asked about whether he thinks about being named the closer. He said this season is different. There is more likely to be a cluster of high-leverage guys who are used in flexible roles. Gabe Kapler added these comments: pic.twitter.com/fMc6ABFveQ— Andrew Baggarly (@extrabaggs) July 12, 2020
Falling in love with Rockies rookies leads to broken hearts. However, with the fluidity of Colorado’s outfield, keep Garrett Hampson in mind during drafts, especially if searching for speed upside. He hit a hustle double on Saturday then scored on a single by Daniel Murphy . According to reports, Murphy is healthy and spraying the ball all over the field. Plus, noted southpaw killers Trevor Story and Nolan Arenado went back-to-back against Tim Hill :
With an eye on the days ahead, be sure to stay with Fantasy Alarm to remain ahead of the competition. And to end on positivity, check out these two tweets. First:
Alyssa Nakken is coaching first base now, and I don't care if it's a practice game. Seeing a woman in the coaching box in a big-league stadium in a game is cool. #SFGIants— Henry Schulman (@hankschulman) July 11, 2020
Baseball needs to bring about more diversity and even though this only happened in a scrimmage, it’s progress.
And if anyone can get me one of these Twins summer camp shirts, sign me up:
The #MNTwins have some fantastic new matching shirts in camp today, designed by Rocco's girlfriend, Allie. The animal pictured is a woodchuck.— Do-Hyoung Park (@dohyoungpark) July 12, 2020
Rocco: "If we're going to call it summer camp, we might as well have an old-school summer camp shirt." pic.twitter.com/AzYggU15c6
Until next time, be well.