Ross Detwiler expands his pitch menu
Right-handed hitters teed off on Ross Detwiler last season, regardless of what the southpaw threw them in his 13 major-league starts. They hit .346 off his sinker, .357 off his changeup, and .375 off his curveball; his fastball held them to a .241 average, but they still slugged .456, in large part because four of the five home runs they tallied came on heaters.
Now that Detwiler has competition from Taylor Jordan and Tanner Roark for the fifth spot in the Nationals’ rotation, he’s doing everything he can to improve on those numbers. One of his efforts is aimed at adding a new offering—specifically, a cutter.
Detwiler, who turns 28 on March 6, told reporters over the weekend that he’s “just trying to throw something else out there” to give hitters a “another look.” He spent most of the 2013 season on the disabled list with two injuries: a strained oblique that kept him out from May 16 through June 13 and a herniated disk in his lower back, which ended his season on June 29.
As Ladson noted, if Detwiler cedes the last spot in the rotation to one of his right-handed competitors, he could give manager Matt Williams an extra lefty out of the bullpen. Detwiler’s rivals in that role would be Jerry Blevins, who was acquired from the Athletics earlier this winter, and Xavier Cedeno. If the cutter develops into an answer for glove-side batters, it might be the difference between a specialist role and a setup job.
Three American League teams keeping tabs on Johan Santana
With the market for free agent pitchers wearing thin, clubs that have potential openings and are interested in a low-risk gamble have their sights set on a 34-year-old who hasn’t pitched since 2012. According to CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman, the Twins—Johan Santana’s first big-league team—and two other junior-circuit squads are showing interest in the left-hander, who underwent his second shoulder-capsule surgery on April 2 of last year.
Heyman wrote on Sunday night that Santana is currently throwing bullpen sessions without much fanfare but is hoping to hold a showcase for potential suitors once his shoulder is sufficiently recovered. He won’t be ready to return until June, at the earliest, but he could provide midseason reinforcement to a needy rotation if healthy.
Cuban free agents Aledmys Diaz, Odrisamer Despaigne won’t be Yankees
The Yankees had both infielder Aledmys Diaz and right-hander Odrisamer Despaigne in for private workouts on Friday—and, apparently, they weren’t impressed with either of them. George A. King III of the New York Post wrote on Sunday night that general manager Brian Cashman will let both of the Cuban defectors land elsewhere.
While the market for Despaigne is unclear, at least half a dozen teams besides the Yankees have shown interest in Diaz. The Cardinals, per Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, saw enough from Diaz last week to prepare an offer to his agent, Jaime Torres. There hasn’t been any word of offers from other clubs, but the Athletics, Blue Jays, Braves, Giants, Phillies, and Twins are among those that have been connected to the 23-year-old. The Braves are unlikely to land him, according to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, because they won’t go far in a bidding war with higher-payroll clubs.
We don’t yet know the price tag on Diaz, but it’s possible that his demands increased when the Dodgers agreed to a five-year, $25 million contract with his countryman Erisbel Arruebarruena. The latter is a slick defensive shortstop with question marks at the plate; conversely, Diaz’ position is uncertain, but he may be better prepared to handle big-league pitching. Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN in Minneapolis tweeted on Monday morning that the Twins don't believe Diaz’ bat makes up for his inferior glove.
Since most of the aforementioned teams with interest in Diaz already have entrenched shortstops—from Andrelton Simmons in Atlanta to Jose Reyes in Toronto—many of them likely view him as a second baseman or utility man. The Twins are set at the keystone for the time being, after Brian Dozier broke out for 18 home runs and 3.5 WARP in 2013.
Rockies checked in on Ervin Santana
If there’s one thing that could help Ervin Santana find a home this spring, it’s an injury that leaves a club scrambling for rotation help. To that end, Heyman heard on Monday that the right-hander might have caught a break.
The Rockies’ no. 2 starter, Jhoulys Chacin, was shut down with shoulder inflammation over the weekend and underwent an MRI to determine what’s causing it on Monday. Chacin told Denver Post beat writer Troy Renck that he’s hoping the pain is merely biceps tendinitis, as opposed to a structural problem in the shoulder, but we’ll have to wait for the results of the MRI to find out what’s bothering him.
In either case, the Rockies appear to be hedging their bets on Chacin’s health—which seems wise, considering that the 26-year-old missed most of the 2012 campaign with shoulder trouble. As Heyman pointed out, director of major league operations Bill Geivett and general manager Dan O’Dowd should have some money to spend, because the Rockies fell short in their bid to sign Jose Abreu earlier this offseason.
Santana, though, seems like a poor fit for the thin air at Coors Field. He raised his ground-ball rate to a career-high 46.2 percent last year and shaved his HR:FB ratio by 6.5 percentage points but still served up 26 home runs in 211 innings. A backslide in either of those departments could send his gopher-ball total soaring past 30 again if he moves to a less-friendly home ballpark.
Heyman added that the Orioles and Rangers remain in touch with Santana’s agent, Bean Stringfellow, as well—though Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News heard the opposite over the weekend.
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