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Carlos Carrasco
Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Baseball Daily Dose

Way The Cookie Crumbles: Carrasco Shut Down

by Matt Williams
Updated On: March 11, 2021, 10:43 am ET

Carrasco shut down with elbow soreness

Mets pitcher Carlos Carrasco has been shut down due to elbow soreness according to manager Luis Rojas. The right-hander experienced the discomfort during live batting practice on Port St. Lucie, Florida. Rojas went on to say that “it’s not too concerning,” and that the 32-year-old had been experiencing body aches due to his second COVID-19 vaccination shot. It’s worth noting that the former Indians pitcher has dealt with similar soreness in his elbow early during spring training in the past.

In fact, last season Indians manager Terry Francona stated “Every spring after his (Carrasco) first outing, he gets mild elbow inflammation.”

Carrasco is expected to take a few days off with hopes of facing live batters next week, but elbow issues are always an obvious concern. The Mets acquired the veteran pitcher from the Indians earlier this offseason as part of the blockbuster trade that landed Francisco Lindor in Queens.

If the elbow soreness is indeed a minor setback, the Mets could still require a spot start or two towards the beginning of the season. Expect David Peterson to temporarily become the number four starter in New York while Joey Lucchesi, Jordan Yamamoto, and even Jerad Eickoff are given a more serious look until Carrasco returns. 

 

Austin Gomber impresses early

The primary centerpiece of the Nolan Arenado trade has been cruising so far this spring. Austin Gomber tossed three scoreless innings with five strikeouts in Wednesday’s victory over the Padres. The outing brings the 27-year-old's Cactus League total to eight strikeouts and just two walks over seven innings.

The interesting, and impressive, wrinkle to Wednesday’s game is that all five strikeouts were swinging. The left-hander has a four-pitch arsenal that includes a four-seam, curveball, slider, and a changeup. Gomber was able to get a batter to chase strike three with each of those pitches during the game.

The southpaw was not at the forefront of most top prospects list, but had a strong 2020 campaign for the Cardinals and was expected to compete for a rotation spot before being traded to the Rockies. Gomber, a former fourth-round draft pick in 2016 out of Florida Atlantic University, carried a 1.86 ERA, 3.84 FIP, and a 48.6 ground ball rate last season.

A high ground ball rate is almost required to pitch in Coors Field, and most of their rotation typically has that in common. However, limiting hard contact is a definite plus, and Gomber does that. If you notice his 90 mph average exit velocity allowed (20th percentile) that seems like a red flag, but not when you cross-check that with a 70th percentile Hard Hit rate and 98th percentile Barrel%. The lefty was very difficult to square up in 2020, which is invaluable in the environment he will be pitching in.

Gomber’s four-seam fastball and curveball mirror each other when approaching the hitter. This means that both high-spin offerings look very similar to the hitter out of the pitcher's hand due to the seams traveling on the same axis, even if they are spinning in different directions. To the hitter, the four-seam and curve look the same until they start to break. This may not seem not a massive advantage, but when a batter has just milliseconds to make a decision, it definitely is.

Austin Gomber has amazing spin efficiency on his entire arsenal and has looked fantastic so far in spring training. The question now is how it might translate to the “friendly” confines of Coors Field. It’s not an ideal home for a pitcher relying on a curveball to compete. The Rockies are often starved for pitching, and often starve pitchers (German Marquez), so let’s enjoy what could be and then watch how it plays out.

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Bobby Dalbec continues to hit or miss

Bobby Dalbec has been showing off his raw power on a daily basis during spring training, the latest being a grand slam on Wednesday. The home run was the 25-year-old's fourth in seven Grapefruit League games. This is more interesting when you add in the fact that Dalbec launched eight home runs (in 23 games) during the home stretch of the 2020 season.

The issue for Dalbec is that he is striking out even more. The Red Sox slugger only collected one yesterday afternoon but has nine total for a 50% strikeout rate. Regardless of the sample size, that is pretty bad. It’s even more concerning when combined with the 42.4% strikeout rate he carried over 92 plate appearances last season.

Dalbec had a similar high strikeout problem early in his minor league career but was able to limit the damage in 2019 when he tallied a 25.1% rate in Double-A and 23.6% rate in Triple-A. It’s sad that those levels can be considered a “goal,” but with the kind of power being displayed it may be acceptable.

If Boston hands the everyday role to Dalbec he can easily hit 30+ home runs over 162-games. The question is if he can keep the job. A 56.5% contact rate is abysmal when compared to the league average (75.3), which explains an equally appalling 21.2% swinging-strike rate. It’s hard to imagine his .264 batting average could repeat this season when reflecting on the previous metrics and his .394 BABIP. Dalbec could be in for a big season in Boston if he can improve his contact rate, but in fantasy, you should expect a poor average and prepare for the possibility of losing at-bats.
 

American League Quick Hits: Xander Bogaerts, who has been recovering from a shoulder injury, could see at-bats out the DH spot this weekend and looks to be on track for Opening Day. … Mariners manager Scott Servais steed that both Mitch Haniger and Dylan Moore could see time out of the leadoff spot this season in addition to J.P. Crawford. … Kirby Yates, who had been recovering from elbow surgery, will make his Grapefruit League debut on Thursday. … Orioles first basemen Chris Davis has no timetable to return as he recovers from a lower back strain. … Zach Britton will undergo arthroscopic elbow surgery on Monday with no current timetable given for a possible return. … After being scratched from Tuesday’s game with left abdominal tightness, George Springer participated in live batting practice and played defense in an intrasquad game. … Ross Stripling pitched two scoreless innings with two Ks vs the Orioles and is expected to take Nate Pearson’s spot in the Blue Jays rotation to start the season. … Astros prospect Forrest Whitley will officially undergo Tommy John surgery according to manager Dusty Baker. … Mike Fiers is dealing with a minor back issue and will be behind the other starts in camp according to Athletics manager Bob Melvin but should be ready for the regular season. … Jose Berrios tossed three scoreless innings with four Ks vs the Rays. … Franchy Cordero has been cleared to return on Thursday after missing time with COVID. … Luke Voit took part in infield drills after being scratched from Tuesday’s game with sore knee. … Astros manager Dusty Baker said that candidates to leadoff this season are Myles Straw and Carlos Correa.

 

National League Quick Hits: Joey Votto has been placed on the IL after testing positive for COVID-19.… Yasiel Puig  “wants to be back in baseball,” according to agent Rachel Luba, the 30-year-old signed a major league deal with the Braves last summer but never played after testing positive for COVID-19 and remains unsigned this offseason. … Tanner Rainey (collarbone) threw a successful bullpen session without issue and could be ready for Opening Day as the primary setup man and fantasy handcuff for Nationals closer Brad Hand. … Juan Soto was held out of Nationals camp due to an undisclosed illness as the team stated that they are being extra cautious when players are not feeling well. … Nationals pitcher Jon Lester told reporters Wednesday that he had one of his four parathyroid glands removed and that he already feels a noticeable difference in his energy level as he attempts to ramp up before Opening Day. … Brewers infielder Luis Urias could return to action this weekend after tweaking his hamstring last Friday. … Padres pitcher Jayson Nix, who has not pitched since 2018 due to elbow issues, could be headed for Tommy John surgery. … Sixto Sanchez will throw another bullpen on Thursday and may not make his regular season debut until mid-April due to his delayed start in camp after a false positive COVID test last month. … Jurickson Profar has been held out of the Padres last three Cactus League games due to leg tightness but is expected back on Thursday. … Max Scherzer tossed three perfect innings, striking out five against the Cardinals. … Max Fried held the Red Sox to one run over four innings while striking out three.

Matt Williams

Matt Williams is a baseball writer/analyst for NBC Sports Edge, RotoFanatic and is the author of #2021PlayerBreakdowns on Twitter. He is the host of the Turn Two Podcast & you can follow him on Twitter @MattWi77iams.