May 14, 2014
Marmol Misses, Down and Away
It looked like the Angels had found a spark when Stewart, who made the team as a non-roster invitee, recorded five extra-base hits in his first 21 at-bats. Since then, the California native has struggled through a 6-for-47 slump. Which statistic is more telling, that Stewart has fanned in 43 percent of his plate appearances, or that he's struck out 10 times per walk? Were it not for the hand injury, he would probably be on the waiver wire, awaiting another outright assignment. Instead Stewart will spend time on the disabled list, and perhaps a small window to prove he can get back to being productive in spurts.
Until then Jimenez will take Stewart's place. Jimenez debuted last April, some seven-plus years after signing with the club, and provided little reason for optimism. Forever known as a bat-first prospect who clobbered doubles, Jimenez expanded his defensive vocabulary in 2013 by learning how to fake it at first base and shortstop. Players are seldom asked to pick up both positions during a season, so management could be undecided on how they should use him heading forward. Whatever his role, the Angels have to hope he continues on the torrid pace that saw him homer eight times in 29 minor-league games. Alas, it seems more likely that the overaggressive Jimenez will threaten Stewart's ugly strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Sabathia joins Ivan Nova and Michael Pineda on the disabled list, meaning the Yankees are now without 60 percent of their Opening Day rotation. Much has been made of the Rays and their decimated rotation, but at least they knew Jeremy Hellickson would miss time entering camp. As a result, Andrew Friedman was able to sign Erik Bedard and ready Cesar Ramos for a starting role. Brian Cashman had no such warning, which left him with no choice but to slide David Phelps and Vidal Nuno from the bullpen to the rotation without a stretch-out period. Cashman figures to call upon Chase Whitley, a three-pitch righty who profiles better in relief, to replace Sabathia. Hiroki Kuroda and Masahiro Tanaka will need to do their darnedest to save the bullpen from overuse until the regulars return.
Should Blue Jays fans be relieved that Santos' issues may stem from an arm injury, or depressed?
On a ligher note, the Canadian contingency ought to be overjoyed by Janssen's return. Though he lacks the drop-your-jaw offerings associated with closer's role, there's something romantic about a finesse righty performing this well (2.45 ERA, 4.36 strikeout-to-walk ratio since 2011) and forcing his way into the ninth-inning role. Janssen gets by with a solid three-pitch mix, smarts, and good location. No one GIFs his pitches; he just throws strikes, gets outs, and shakes hands. A free agent at season's end, some team will be getting a high-quality reliever if the Jays let him walk.
So ends Marmol's time in Miami. The erstwhile Cub pitched 13 innings, walked 10 batters, and allowed 16 hits, three of which were home runs. He issued at least one free pass in each of his final four appearances. The problem with Marmol is not the walks; sure, he would improve his chances by cutting down on the wildness, but that's not the difference between his good and bad days. The problem is he can no longer miss barrels at the necessary clip to pull off the tightrope act. For a walk-heavy reliever to succeed, he must be able to suppress hits, particularly of the extra-base variety. Marmol no longer can, but he'll get another job anyway.
And now for more of the same. On Monday Rodriguez became the third reliever this season to walk four batters in less than inning, joining Shawn Kelley (whose total included an intentional walk) and Jose Veras. Because he throws hard and had a solid season, albeit three years ago, he'll continue to receive opportunities. If Marmol is any indication, Rodriguez has about 12 innings to go before the Marlins give their next feral arm a look.
Placed RHP Gonzalez Germen on the 15-day disabled list (virus); recalled RHP Jacob deGrom from Triple-A Las Vegas. [5/13]
The biggest addition, Jenrry Mejia, happens to be the most controversial. No one likes to see teams abandon their youngster's starting careers for a life spent in the bullpen. There are legitimate arguments to be made, including those about his size and injury history, that he would have landed in relief at some point or another anyway. Sandy Alderson is no fool, so the Mets probably have decent reasoning for doing what they're doing. Mejia, for what it's worth, seems to be taking the transition in stride. Rafael Montero, who was covered here, will join the rotation.
While not as hyped or talented as some of the other arms coming through the system, deGrom has a solid fastball and should become a worthwhile middle reliever. He's another converted starter, but unlike Mejia, there was no hope for him to become more than a back-end starter. Plus, deGrom is nearing his 26th birthday, which makes him more than a year older than Mejia.
Losing LaRoche and his (thus far) hot bat would hurt no matter the circumstances. That the injury comes while the Nationals are also without Ryan Zimmerman and Bryce Harper just complicates Matt Williams' job. The rookie manager has responded by moving Anthony Rendon to his natural third base, inserting the bunt-happy Danny Espinosa at the keystone, and employing a Nate McLouth-led platoon in left field. How he handles the first-base situation is to be seen, but expect Moore—who can replace LaRoche's power, if not his contact and on-base skills—to play most days.