Nobody likes bad news all the time. 

Capitalism has built mountains of escape on the shoulders of this truth.

Enter 2020.

Sorry, I meant to be upbeat in the opener here because I really am loving this season. The Tigers are amazing at hitting. The Orioles are over .500 despite getting swept by the Marlins. Everyone’s going to the playoffs! 

Well, Roberto Osuna’s not. He hasn’t had Tommy John surgery yet, but his situation will be interesting this off-season given that Houston could DFA him and close the book on Kelder, to borrow the words of Bob Uecker from Major League.  

In the compressed season, every team is working toward something of a new role: backup closer. It’s kind of just the set-up man, but it’s kind of a different position entirely. Depends on the team and specific pen, I suppose. 

In Houston’s first chair today we find Ryan Pressly, who’s just not as sharp and dominant as usual. In the set-up role we find Blake Taylor, former Cleveland catcher, Moby Dick reader and Rene Russo stalker. 

When I first saw Taylor pitch, I imagined a reliever version of Robbie Ray in an alternate universe. Would he settle in and dominate in the role he probably should’ve had the last few years? Or would he just be Robbie Ray

Taylor stuff has less life than Ray’s, but he’s got better control and better base mechanics. His swinging strike rates have been around 11% in the Mets MiLB bullpens, and he’s always been a groundball machine. 11 percent SwStr would be sound for a starter and can work in the pen for flyball suppressors. He’s at 8.8 SwStr% in 2020 with just a 16.6 percent 0-swing, but none of this really matters much right now. He’s dropped his change-up entirely, which seems like a choice that could be supported/enforced by Houston.

Beyond the noise, he’s a lefty with two big-league quality pitches who spent five seasons developing as a starter in the Mets organization before shifting to relief full-time in 2019. His clock was running out before they’d have to decide whether he warranted a spot on their 40-man roster, and over the off-season, they decided he did not. 

He caught on in Houston and will probably get a save chance this week. 

In other back-up closer news, Gregory Soto got one step closer with Buck Farmer going down with a left groin strain. Get well soon, Buck.

Here’s what I said Sunday in Stash List Volume 3 when fawning over Soto: 

Tigers LHP Gregory Soto is a Freddy Krueger level nightmare for opponents. He was painting with 99 and 100 from an impossible angle last time I saw him (Saturday against Pittsburgh). I’m borrowing the word impossible from the announcer, who I think was Matt Shepard, just trying to describe what he was seeing.”

In Tampa Bay, Brendan McKay is the bad news I was thinking about in the opener. I had a few chances to move him this off-season in a 20-teamer, but I only had those because I went looking. In most the offers I sent out, I was selling low compared to his rankings across the prospect world. I rarely got traction, and when I did, McKay was just part of a much larger package. 

I’m hoping his current bout of shoulder soreness is just some tightness born from inactivity. The COVID hits people in unique ways. I don’t mean it got to his shoulder, but I know it had me laid up for quite a while, miserable and motionless. Tough to go out and throw again, or my case run, after that layoff. 

Still, this isn’t the first barking McKay’s heard in his shoulder, and I’m pretty close to all the way out on him in the short term. If I could get anything I liked, I’d have sold him long ago. I don’t mean to go all Chicken Little about him and encourage anyone to sell for nothing or drop him. Don’t do that. Depending on your league size and settings of course. 

Anyway things aren’t awesome in Tampa Bay, what with Charlie Morton and Yonny Chirinos out. They have Jalen Beeks, of course, but I think this opens the door a bit for Anthony Banda horses and maybe even Joe Ryan

I suspect both will pitch this year whether or not they’re part of a plan to plug the current innings leak. I like Ryan more than horses. Banda I mean. 

They got chilli dogs over there? 

I feel like a banker in this.

Charlie Sheen tweeted his appreciation of James Karinchak rocking number 99, in case you missed it.

James Karinchak fans are now part of the K-Hive.

Last thought: I always suspected Erik Gonzalez was a little better than he’d shown. I’m not saying he’ll be great, but I did get outbid $38 to $13 in the Razz 30-team dynasty and caught a quick case of the sads about it. Guys with good defensive hands tend to add hitting skill with reps and man strength. Even bad he’s worth money as the everyday third baseman in Pittsburgh, and I think he might be that for a while. I landed him in a 20-team dynasty for a similar percentage of overall faab as the $13 bid, but he’s slightly less valuable in that one. 

If he’s hitting, he’ll add 3B eligibility to SS and be an interesting piece. 

If he’s not, he’s a pretty easy cut. 

Last last thought, I’ve mentioned Spencer Torkelson as a outside-shot, redraft possibility a few times in these pages, and CJ Cron’s knee injury dictates I mention it again. Willi Castro got the first call, but he’s a middle infielder by trade, so things will shuffle around. He’s a decent deep league flier, for what it’s worth: Castro.

For the Tork dreams to materialize, Detroit will have to keep winning, and he’ll have to hit convincingly well at the training site to warrant the risk and service-time loss, but he’s getting reps against Mize, Manning and Skubal, so . . . if he hits those guys, I suspect it would look convincing to someone trying to decide if he could hang in a big league lineup. We’ll see Isaac Paredes first, I think, if you’re looking for a Cron-response play that isn’t Castro.

Thanks for reading! Stay safe out there!

I’m @theprospectitch on Twitter and Reddit.

 
  1. Joey Jo Jo Jr Shabadoo says:
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    THAT is why it was confusing to me, it’s from it being used for first TWO years and the 22% number. so, since lux was up last year this number is nearly (or is) exactly determinant (and is aug 11th per you reading somebody who should know that), for the never before played yet till this year guys (howard/pearson/patino so far, carlson probably by sat (STL still has no 4th OF on roster at all, only j.williams on taxi other than carlson)) it’s not ONLY about this year, so TOR/PHI/SD can have those guys up already, and next year if they want worry about when they’d be up again to maximize and NOT only this year.

    • Joey Jo Jo Jr Shabadoo says:
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      hehe, none of that explains why mountcastle isn’t up yet though, it’d be his first time, many BAL doesn’t want to have to do the math in 2 separate years, that does seem like something they’d be too lazy to look up or something along those lines.

      • The Itch

        The Itch says:
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        Yeah I think they wanted to lose this year, and not a little bit. That front office experienced first-hand the power in stacking top 3 picks in the draft.

        That said, the MLB team is doing all it can to force the issue.

    • El Zoro Hombre says:
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      I was confused when MLB didn’t eliminate service time for the 60 game season.

      What is the point of these taxi squads if they can’t fill in for the big league squads when they get all Rona’d
      Imagine if the Cardinals taxi squad could have rode in and played the schedule while the infected bunch were able to recover or prove their health and join them.

      Universal DH
      Expanded playoffs
      Extra roster spots

      But yeah, service time, that’s the one thing baseball could not change for the shortened season.

      • Joey Jo Jo Jr Shabadoo says:
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        forgot the stupidest one (and yeah i get long games and we’re going to do so many doubleheaders and all that, but if time is the worry just actually make the pitchers follow the rule about standing there staring at the batter for no reason (i.e. watch a NYY vs BOS sunday night game, it’s like 40+ secs in between each pitch for a lot of guys)), the guy on 2nd for extra innings.

        – also the completely stupid (this one uses even more so the “length of game” “argument” when just make the damn pitchers pitch faster) 3 min batters per pitcher b.s. “rule”. the sport doesn’t matter, it’s whatever maximizes the money for the most owners most of the time. MLBPA did let that service time crap into the system though from short sighted greed (owners don’t have that problem, billionaires understand and implement LONG sided greed more effectively, obv, that’s how you become/stay a billionaire)

  2. scoboticus says:
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    Blake Taylor or Andre Scrubb as Backup acloser?

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:
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      Scrubb was a guy that couldn’t get no love from me.

      In this article.

      And I do think it’s Taylor as if today.

  3. Dave D says:
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    Nice write up! As an Angel fan I was super impressed by him in their first series, so much so that I put in an FAAB bid on him and got him in an NFBC league when Osuna went down. I was second guessing myself for not going after other guys,mainly because he’s a lefty, but I was not sold on Pressley as closer. Maybe my faith is rewarded while I still have a shot as my other closer options have imploded and I now have one closer in Montero unless Robles gets his gig back. Thanks for the post. Taylor is impressive and I hope too he gets a shot at some SV’s.

  4. leon says:
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    My ($8) hampson and ($29) xander for ($0) luis roberts 16 man dynasty 6×6. thanks.

  5. Moon Shots says:
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    Howdy Itch.

    So I was able to make that deal we talked about and move Kike Hernandez for Jake Vogel and a first, happily.

    I’m now working on finding a trade partner for Jesus Aguilar. Despite his uncertain outlook going into the season It seems like he should provide plenty of value to a contender and there’s a bit of an arms race going on in our 30 team dynasty. My goal is to land a top hundred prospect for him, preferably someone fairly close to the majors so that I’m not rebuilding for all eternity.

    That said someone just offered Abraham Toro for him and I’m curious for your thoughts As I don’t know his profile very well. Given that he’s not an elite asset seemingly I would try to work it for him and a first rounder. What do you think?

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