Welcome back to the Spring Training observation series. Last week we were dealing with making predictions with little to no data. While the data from two weeks isn’t the best, we have a clearer picture of what will happen with this team.
So let’s stop talking and get into it.
Bradish is looking like the best pitcher in Camp
With John Means hurt and Grayson Rodriguez on an innings limit, the question comes up: who will take over that spot for being the best pitcher? The options were vast but Kyle Bradish has taken that mantle. Bradish has been gross this Spring Training, looking the best of the entire staff. He showed out on Friday, pitching four innings and striking out eight. His slider, which he and Dean Kremer developed together at a Pitching Academy over the winter, seems crisp. His fastball velocity is up nearly two MPH from last year. Bradish also looked good through three innings for the first time. Bradish has 12 strikeouts over nine innings with only two walks.
He is looking like the best pitcher in the rotation right now with his good fastball and change-up combined with an excellent slider.
Who will be the Opening Day Starter?
All spring, fans have been waiting to see who will be the Opening Day Starter and Brandon Hyde said that it will be announced later this week. Many people think Kyle Gibson will be the favorite due to him being the veteran of the group. However, I don’t like that line of thinking, and the Opening Day start should go to the best and most talented pitcher. Due to Gray Rod’s injury, he won’t be the Opening Day starter, so it seems like Bradish or Dean Kremer are the obvious fits. Due to Kremer pitching with team Israel, my money is on Bradish. As we just discussed, he’s earned the Opening Day start, and just because Gibson is older doesn’t mean he should get the nod over Bradish, who has been better.
Santander and Kremer shine in WBC
The WBC has been awesome, (outside of Team USA, which is playing with the energy of a 40 and over softball team). The fans have been eclectic, and Team Venezuela has been the darlings so far in the Tournament. Venezuela has been led by Anthony Santander, who has had a huge impact. He has had two home runs and a diving catch in the two games. If Santander is going to play anywhere close to how good he has looked in the WBC, he isn’t going anywhere.
ANTHONY SANTANDER HOME RUN AND MIAMI IS ROCKING 💪
📺: FS1 and the FOX Sports App pic.twitter.com/VffifE603R
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) March 12, 2023
OH MY!! Anthony Santander what a snag with 2 runners on base!
📺: WBC on FS1 pic.twitter.com/FRpFx7ABju
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) March 12, 2023
What if I told you that someone else in the WBC has been better than Santander? Kremer looked awesome for team Israel. He finished with four scoreless innings with four strikeouts and only gave up three hits. He hit 97 with his fastball and the new slider he developed over the winter looked awesome. If Bradish and Kremer look this good early on, this rotation should have no problem this year. It is awesome to see Santander and Kremer lighting it up.
Mountcastle Locked In
We have been talking a ton about the pitching this spring, but not enough about the offense. That ends today, because Ryan Mountcastle is going on a tear right now. In eight games he has seven hits, four doubles, a grand slam, and a triple with eight RBIs. He is hitting, .33/.333/.762 with an OPS of 1.095.
If the O’s are going anywhere, they need Mounty to be a great number-four hitter and drive in runs. I get Waltimore hurt him but I need 30 to 35 homers from him this year.
We Have Outgrown the Need for Mateo
This is the hottest take on today’s piece but honestly, I have planted my flag firmly into this hill. Some of this is due to Gunnar Henderson’s defense at Short looking all-worldly (see last week’s observations), but this has been on my mind all winter. The only reasons Jorge Mateo is here right now is because of his defense and speed. If Gunnar is good defensively at short, then the only advantage he has is speed and just how valuable is that if Gunnar is also fast?
Mateo was a horrible hitter, but his glove and being a weapon on the bases kept him around. Now though, with Gunnar already here and other prospects like Joey Ortiz coming soon, what value does Mateo have? The simple solution could be to make Mateo a bench option, which is fine, but it seems like Brandon Hyde won’t do that for some reason. Maybe that is just me remembering how Kyle Stowers and Terrin Vavra were treated, but something tells me that Hyde will just send Mateo out there no matter what, just like Rougned Odor last year.
This might seem harsh on Mateo and Hyde but, either Mateo needs to accept a bench role, or Hyde needs to stop playing him every day without question. If these two things can’t happen, then he needs to be traded. At this point, I would take a Tanner Scott and Cole Sulser-type trade where the most valuable thing they get is a draft pick for Mateo.
Also, no I don’t get this fan base’s obsession with Mateo. Throw your hate at me in the comments.