The Cactus League season is coming to a close this week, and I wanted to get a short “jottings” in, especially as we inch closer to Opening Day at Kauffman Stadium on April 7th.
In this edition of the “jottings”, I take a look at Greinke’s fastball in my most recent post on Pitcher List; my contribution to the “Playing Pepper” series on Cards Conclave, a St. Louis Cardinals-focused blog; and an interesting post from Marcus Meade of Royals Weekly and Royals Farm Report, as he took a look at whether Kyle Isbel should deserve more consideration in centerfield in 2022.
Greinke’s Fastball Being Key to Success in ’22 (via Pitcher List)
Surprisingly, I was already doing research on Zack Greinke as a pitcher and his outlook for 2022 for Pitcher List prior to his signing with the Royals. Shortly after he signed with Kansas City, I made the piece even more of a priority, and my focus centered on his four-seam fastball, which has declined sharply in velocity over the past few seasons.
Here’s a link to the piece below:
While Greinke doesn’t sport the same high-velocity four-seamer that he once had earlier in his career, he still has proven to be effective with it, which is evidenced by the high called-strike percentage that I highlighted in the piece.
Furthermore, here’s a snippet from the article which should also make Royals fans optimistic about his outlook in 2022:
Royals and fantasy baseball fans shouldn’t be quick to dismiss Greinke just on his surface-level metrics.
His four-seamer can still be a pretty productive pitch, and Greinke possesses a dangerous 1-2 pitch combo when he pairs the four-seamer effectively with his changeup. That was demonstrated in the data above and should continue to be the case, as long as Greinke still maintains that pinpoint command that he has been known for over the course of his career.“Greinke’s Fastball Is Key to Kansas City Return” by Kevin O’Brien; Pitcher List
Greinke is already tabbed to be the Royals’ Opening Day starter on Thursday. That being said, while Royals fans will be highly anticipating his return to Kauffman Stadium as a member of the Royals that day, they should also be optimistic about what he can do this season, even if statically it may not be what he demonstrated during his first go-around in Kansas City.
Previewing the Royals in the “Playing Pepper” Series
Last season, I was lucky enough to contribute to Cards Conclave’s “Playing Pepper” series, which has bloggers from other teams preview their respective teams for the upcoming season. For a second-straight year, I was asked to answer a few questions about the Royals (along with Max Rieper of Royals Review).
Safe to say, my tune changed quickly after the Greinke and Amir Garrett deals, so I had to re-do my post shortly before submitting it to Daniel of Cards Conclave.
Here’s a link to my “Playing Pepper” preview of the Royals:
While I answer a few more questions in the post, here’s a snippet of what I said in regard to my expectations for the Royals for this upcoming season:
This is another year of development, which isn’t easy to stomach for a squad that has struggled to be competitive since 2017. However, the Royals are going to play the young guys and see what they have, and while that may not improve the record from a year ago, this team will be a whole lot more interesting to watch. I see this team starting slow in April and May, especially as they try to figure out their rotation, but I think in the second half, especially in August and September, they finish above .500 in both months, and Royals fans will feel hopeful that 2023 will be the year that they become competitive again. Specifically, this team will probably finish in the 73-76 win mark, which is around the same as last year. But the momentum from a solid finish and doing so through their young guys will energize this fanbase a lot more than the 2021 squad.“Playing Pepper 2022: Kansas City Royals” by Kevin O’Brien and Max Rieper; Cards Conclave
Do I still feel that the Royals will win between 73 and 76 games, especially in lieu of the Lance Lynn news and the Guardians not really upgrading their roster whatsoever this offseason?
I guess we will have to see in my “season preview” of the Royals and AL Central, which will be posted on Wednesday, right before Opening Day.
Isbel vs. Taylor in CF?
On Thursday, Marcus Meade of Royals Weekly posted an interesting poll trying to gauge who Royals fans thought should play center field in Kansas City for the majority of the 2022 season. The results were interesting, to say the least, as evidenced below:
Based on the results, Meade wrote an interesting piece for Royals Farm Report, which can be found below. It’s an engaging read, and Meade makes a lot of interesting cases for both Isbel and Taylor in center field in various capacities for this upcoming season.
One thing that Meade advocates for is a platoon in centerfield with Isbel and Taylor both playing depending on the pitching, as well as the park, situation.
Here’s what he says specifically in the piece:
I don’t think the Royals platoon enough, but I think this is the perfect situation for it. If I were Matheny, Picollo, and Moore, I’d institute a platoon that has Taylor playing against most left-handed pitchers and Isbel playing against most right-handed pitchers.
I’d be open to Taylor against righties in Kauffman and Isbel against lefties on the road. Ideally, it would lead to a split of about 60-40 Isbel with Isbel also getting additional playing time spelling Andrew Benintendi in left field and Whit Merrifield in right field.“Kyle Isbel or Michael A. Taylor? Who deserves more time in center field?” by Marcus Meade; Royals Farm Report
I think Taylor has done enough this Spring to earn the starting centerfield spot for now. They need his defense, especially with Whit going to play in right field, who hasn’t really manned that position on a regular capacity since 2020.
However, I am more open to the idea of Isbel playing centerfield now than I was going into Spring Training. He may not be the Gold Glove-caliber centerfielder that Taylor is, but he can handle the position and not be a sub-average (which I think would be the case with Edward Olivares).
If Taylor starts off slow at the plate in 2022, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Isbel get a shot at centerfield on a platoon basis, especially since it seems like Isbel will be starting the season with the big league club, barring a major late development.
Photo Credit: John Sleezer/Kansas City Star/Tribune News Service via Getty Images