Royals Central: “Playing Pepper”; Mazara in Detroit; Lynch making his case?

We’re in the twilight hours of the weekend, and I will have some more posts this week as I will be entering Spring Break. However, I wanted to share a few quick bits that I wrote over the past week off the site, as well as some thoughts on Daniel Lynch, who started on Saturday against the Chicago Cubs.

So let’s take a look:

“Playing Pepper” with Cards Conclave

Cards Conclave is primarily a St. Louis Cardinals blog. However, every year durng Spring Training, the site goes around the web and asks bloggers from other teams to do short previews on their respective clubs for the upcoming season. This was my first time collaborating with Cards Conclave, and I was able to also participate with Max Rieper of Royals Review. It was a pretty cool opportunity, and here was one of my answers to Cards Conclave’s questions about my thoughts on the upcoming season (I hope to have a fuller season preview before Opening Day).

C70: What is your expectation for this team this coming season?

Kevin: I am not sure if the Royals are a playoff team just yet. The White Sox and Twins are both loaded, and the Indians pitching staff could be one of the best in the AL, if not all of MLB. However, this team is projected to win 71 games by most experts, and I think they will surpass that and fall in the 75-80 win category, which in my opinion, would be a huge step forward. This year feels a lot like 2013, when they won 83 games, and I think this year could be something similar, though I think automatically saying they can win 83 games again may be tough. There still are some questions with the pitching: will Brady Singer and Kris Bubic do well in their sophomore campaigns? Who will be the closer long-term? Will Daniel Lynch and Jackson Kowar come up and be as good as advertised? Will Brad Keller keep producing despite weird metrics? Will Danny Duffy move to the bullpen? However, if their pitching can take the necessary steps to improve, I could see them creeping into that 80-plus win mark, because I think the offense is legit and could really be one of the better producing units in the AL Central.

“Playing Pepper 2021: Kansas City Royals”; Cards Conclave

You can check out the full post and the site in general at this link here.

Can Nomar Mazara Thrive in the Motor City? (via “Pitcher List”)

I was able to post my fifth article on Pitcher List, and in this post, I was able to dive deeper into a slugger in the AL Central: Nomar Mazara, who moves from Chicago to Detroit.

Mazara was a disappointment in 2020 with the White Sox, as he struggled with a 67 wRC+ in 149 plate appearances on the South Side. Mazara was non-tendered this off-season by Chicago, and the Tigers swooped him up on a pretty reasonable one-year, $1.75 million deal.

Mazara may not be an everyday player, as he’s been pretty much a platoon player over the course of his career and is expected to platoon with Victor Reyes in right field in 2021. That being said, he could provide some value for Detroit and fantasy owners, especially if he can adjust his swing’s launch angle back to his 2019 levels. Here’s what I said about Mazara in my recent post on Pitcher List, which posted on March 12th:

The amount of groundballs displayed in this chart is concerning, especially for a hitter with such raw power as Mazara. And it’s not just the groundball outs that are concerning, but also the lack of diversity in the kind of hits he had in 2020. As one can see from his radial chart, a lot of Mazara’s base hits were singles, and that’s just not enough for a hitter who relies on power and strikes out as often as Mazara.

Thus, the big question for Mazara in 2021 in Detroit will be if he can find that launch angle that he had in Texas in 2019, or maybe something better. Mazara cannot survive being a sub-seven and plus-50 percent groundball rate hitter again, even if he will only be 26-years-old in 2021. However, if he is able to find more launch on his batted balls next season, it is possible that Mazara could experience some surprising success at the plate with the Tigers.

“Can Nomar Mazara Thrive in Detroit?” by Kevin O’Brien; Pitcher

Daniel Lynch shines in first start of Cactus League play

Lynch got off to a rough start to Spring Training, as he had an ERA in the double digits after his first two appearances in Cactus League play. However, on Saturday Lynch looked stellar against the Cubs, as he struck out five batters in three innings, and allowed two hits, two runs and zero walks in the Royals 10-2 win. While Lynch may be on the outside-looking-in when it comes to earning a place in the Royals rotation on Opening Day, this promising outing shows that Lynch is making some gains this Spring after getting hit around early.

Here is some video of his performance from Saturday:

For the year, Lynch has a 9.45 ERA and 1.65 WHIP in 6.2 IP so far in Cactus League play, according to Baseball Reference. He has struggled a bit with control, as he is posting a BB/9 of 5.4 this Spring. However, he has made up for it slightly with a strong K/9 at 12.2, which has also boosted his K/BB ratio, which is 2.25. His K/9 is higher than Jackson Kowar (10.1) and Ervin Santana (6.0), who are also competing for rotation spots this Spring. While I am not sure if Lynch will earn a place in the rotation on April 1st, I don’t think it’s out of the question to think that he may be the first man up in Kansas City, should injury or ineffectiveness beset a pitcher in the Royals rotation within the first month.

Lynch’s Spring numbers aren’t pretty, especially in regard to ERA and WHIP. However, Lynch’s ability to make batters and whiff seems legit, and him facing strong competition this Spring (his opponent quality score of 7.7) should only make Royals feel confident that he should be ready to join the big league roster between Late May and June, maybe July at the latest.

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