It was an exciting day of spring baseball, with two injured pitchers (Josh Johnson & Clay Buchholz) taking the mound for the first time since the middle of 2011. How did they fare? Let’s take a look at that, as well as all the other interesting stories from yesterday’s games:
- Josh Johnson – Miami Marlins – Pitcher – If you believe in Spring Training numbers for pitchers or not, seeing Johnson not only take the mound, but pitch well, is a tremendous sight. Johnson last stepped on a Major League mound on May 16, 2011 against the New York Mets. In his spring debut he tossed 1.2 shutout innings allowing 2 H and 1 BB, striking out 2. He has averaged 93.9 mph throughout his career and, according to Joe Frisaro of MLBlogs.com (click here for the post), topped out at 94 mph yesterday. We’ll obviously have to continue monitoring him, but this is a very encouraging start.
- Justin Masterson – Cleveland Indians – Pitcher – My issue with Masterson wasn’t necessarily the numbers, though they were incredibly ugly (6 ER over 1.1 IP). It’s the fact that he allowed not only 5 H, but 3 BB that is a major issue. Masterson needs to have the groundball rate (three of his four outs did come via the groundball) and good control if he wants to excel once again. He has had control problems in the past (his 2.71 BB/9 in ’11 was the first time he was below 3.65 in the Major Leagues). This type of start is well worth monitoring as if he doesn’t correct the issue his value could plummet.
- Josh Reddick – Oakland Athletics – Outfielder – He went 2-3 with 1 RBI and 2 R yesterday, putting him at 5-8 with 2 RBI, 4 R and 1 SB to open the spring. Obviously it’s a very small sample size, but it is definitely the type of start we want to see from an outfielder set to get his first chance at regular playing time. In five-outfielder formats he is well worth monitoring and taking the gamble on.
- Dustin Ackley – Seattle Mariners – Second Baseman – It was a nice day for Ackley, going 3-3 with 2 R (including a double and triple). However, the more interesting aspect was that he was in the leadoff spot. Obviously, Chone Figgins wasn’t in the lineup but could Ackley be a viable option atop the lineup should Figgins falter? It wouldn’t have a major impact on his value, though he likely would score a few more runs.
- Alex Gordon – Kansas City Royals – Outfielder – Worried that his 2011 breakout was just an aberration? Considering how much of a flop he had been earlier in his career it is hard to say that you wouldn’t be justified. However, a strong start to his spring should help to ease any concerns. He went 1-2 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 1 R yesterday, putting him at 2-5 with 1 HR, 3 RBI and 2 R thus far. It is incredibly early, but so far he looks like he is once again going to be a force at the top of the Royals lineup. Consider him a borderline Top 15 outfielder in all formats.
- Pedro Alvarez – Pittsburgh Pirates – Third Baseman – We all know how disappointing he was in 2011 and, unfortunately, he hasn’t done anything in his first two spring games to make us forget. He went 0-3 yesterday, striking out twice, bringing him to 0-5 with 3 Ks already. He is young, plays a weak position and has plenty of power. We all know that, but if he can’t make contact (30.5% strikeout rate in ’11 in the Majors, 28.4% at Triple-A), it doesn’t matter.
- Clay Buchholz – Boston Red Sox – Pitcher – The Red Sox need help in the rotation, putting pressure on a returning Buchholz (his last start in 2011 came on June 16). He’s got a long ways to go, but it was a good start against the Twins yesterday as he tossed 2.0 shutout innings allowing 0 H and 2 BB, striking out 2. The important number was that he also generated two groundball outs.
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Make sure to check out all of our 2012 rankings: