Cubs right-hander Jake Arrieta handled the Brewers on Sunday in a seven-inning, 10-strikeout showing, after which he downplayed concerns about his diminished velocity. “Where I’m at now in my career, I don’t worry about it, because I know that I’m smart enough to work around that,” Arrieta said, per Patrick Mooney of CSN Chicago. “The velocity’s still good enough to get it by guys and to do certain things in certain situations with it.” The 31-year-old is clearly confident in his current stuff, but he does expect to regain his lost velocity. “When the 95-to-97 comes back, it’s going to be tough for teams. And it still is,” declared Arrieta, who has posted sterling numbers through two starts this year as he continues to make his case for a massive contract. Arrieta stands as arguably the majors’ top soon-to-be free agent.
More from around the sport:
- Although there has been skepticism toward Cubs outfielder Jason Heyward’s remade swing, the early returns on his offseason work have been promising, writes Jesse Rogers of ESPN.com. Heyward picked up a pair of hits, including a triple, in five at-bats Sunday, and he managed to put the ball in play with 95 mph-plus exit velocities in each trip to the plate. “I like his hands,” observed manager Joe Maddon. “I like his hands more involved right now. He’s getting started sooner, staying through the ball longer.” Heyward’s previous swing yielded a highly disappointing .230/.306/.325 line in 592 PAs last season, which came as a shock after the normally solid hitter inked an eight-year, $184MM contract in free agency.
- California-based high schooler Hunter Greene is the premier prospect in this year’s draft class based on his ability as a pitcher, but he’s also a top-10 talent as a shortstop, writes Keith Law of ESPN.com (subscription required/recommended). Law scouted Greene’s start Friday and noted that the right-hander’s fastball didn’t fall below 94 mph in any of his seven innings. The 17-year-old has No. 1 starter upside, opines Law, who believes Greene could even play some short and work as a part-time hitter in the majors. Louisville’s Brendan McKay, whom Law regards as the second-best player in this year’s class, is also a two-way talent. McKay is both a left-handed pitcher and a first baseman, and Law expects him to settle in as a hurler – one who could serve as a No. 3 type for the long haul. McKay has less upside than Greene, but the 21-year-old would be the safer pick, suggests Law. Check out the full piece for more details on both players.
- The Yankees remain unsure sure how much time cornerstone catcher Gary Sanchez will miss on account of his right biceps strain, writes George A. King III of the New York Post. While the Sanchez-less Yanks could continue with Austin Romine and Kyle Higashioka behind the plate in lieu of exploring outside options, King lists several potential targets if the club does look elsewhere for help. Hector Sanchez (Padres), Jesus Sucre (Rays), Tuffy Gosewisch (Mariners), former Yankee John Ryan Murphy (Twins), Ryan Hanigan (Rockies), Bobby Wilson (Dodgers) and Manny Pina (Brewers) are names to watch, relays King.
- In the wake of Jeanmar Gomez’s meltdown against the Nationals on Sunday, Phillies manager Pete Mackanin is “considering” changing closers, he told Todd Zolecki of MLB.com. “I’m going to have a talk with him tomorrow,” said Mackanin, whose Phillies escaped with a 4-3 win after Gomez blew a save. “I’ll have something for you tomorrow. I need to talk with him.” Gomez has allowed multiple runs in two of three appearances this year, and he has been especially prone to poor outings since the second half of last season. Gomez did log 37 saves in 2016, but he accomplished that in spite of a 4.85 ERA and a subpar K/9 (6.16). Now, if the Phillies turn to someone else as their closer, it’ll likely be Joaquin Benoit, Hector Neris or Edubray Ramos, notes Zolecki. Keeping Neris and Ramos in setup roles would tamp down their future arbitration earnings, though it’s unclear if that will factor into the Phillies’ decision.