As I type this, Opening Day starter Dylan Bundy is getting his final preseason start wrapped up. It won’t take a genius to figure out how the rotation will take shape behind him. Just follow the next few days.
In 2020, Bundy gave up home runs at half his normal rate and notably below MLB average. Part of that is the ballpark, but a larger part is better utilizing his arsenal of pitches. Scroll down a bit to the Pitch Arsenal segment. Mixing speeds and locations still works, as Brent broke down last summer.
The feel good story of Spring is shaping up to be Jose Rojas. On Wednesday morning Joe Maddon gave Rojas a positive review. By Wednesday evening he was the only middle infielder on the roster besides David Fletcher and Jose Iglesias.
David Fletcher is no stranger to great defensive plays. Fangraphs is projecting him to lead the way to the 13th best WAR at second base. I say he easily beats their 1.7 WAR projection and I’m not alone. ESPN pegs him for their MLB All-Underrated team.
Looking at other Fangraphs projections, the Angels come in 12th at the ridiculously stacked shortstop position and 3rd at third base along with 11th at catcher.
Look at all those top shortstops who will hit free agency next year. Incredible.
Sadly, one of the players optioned to the minors this week was local pitcher Jake Faria who was nice enough to do an interview for us. Hopefully this is a short lived setback and he gets to fulfill his, and our, childhood dream.
And that is a new voice you are hearing during Angels games. Daron Sutton also was kind enough to spend some time with me this week.
In that interview he talks about his dad, Don Sutton, having a spat with John Candelaria. As this was a bit before my time, I did some digging. Apparently the Candy Man was hitting the bottle pretty hard and Don called the police alerting them that Candaleria was about to drive drunk. Candaleria insisted Don set him up in order to secure a spot in the rotation. Don says he was trying to help. Candaleria’s view of the incident and a whole lot of shade thrown at Gene Mauch are in this article.
Pretty incredible stuff. I’m not surprised Candaleria was having a hard time after the death of his young son. Not that that is an excuse for two DUI’s in a season. But the fact he would put aside his dispute with Don and be so nice to Daron is pretty cool.
Opening Day opponent Chicago White Sox were dealt a huge blow, losing Eloy Jimenez to a torn pectoral tendon. That just sounds painful.
Elsewhere around baseball, the Toronto Blue Jays are the new Angels. Closer Kirby Yates is headed for TJ surgery and will miss the year. It turns out both Atlanta and Toronto had serious concerns after looking at his elbow. Toronto rolled the dice and lost. To really make them feel like us, prized free agent George Springer is out with an oblique injury.
To go along with the on field setbacks, both the Blue Jays and their AAA club Buffalo are trying to figure out which team will player where and when.
Taking tanking to an entirely new level, the Baltimore Orioles announced they will send the shell of Matt Harvey into the bandboxes of the AL East. The announcement was made right as the last home run he gave up in 2019 finally landed.
The prize for this tanking is likely Jack Leiter, son of Al. The kid pitched a no hitter against a very tough South Carolina team last weekend, racking up 16 K’s along the way.
No longform reading this weekend. Please take a listen to the interviews and feel free to share them on your social media feeds as well. These players and broadcasters do us a solid favor when they join us.
Have a great weekend and let me know what I missed.