Paddack Impresses

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Ryan Boyer
·7 min read
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Like many of us, when it comes to 2020, Chris Paddack is looking to wipe the slate clean.

The 25-year-old had a fantastic rookie season in 2019, putting up a 3.33 ERA, 0.98 WHIP and 153/31 K/BB ratio over 140 2/3 innings covering 26 starts. He was a consensus top-20 starting pitcher in fantasy leagues heading into 2020.

Things started out well enough during the truncated 2020 campaign, with Paddack allowing just two runs in his first two starts in July. He then proceeded to post a 5.44 ERA over his final 10 starts before getting hammered for six runs in just 2 1/3 frames in his lone postseason outing.

Paddack’s fastball – which was a dominant pitch for him in 2019 – abandoned him in 2020. He sought out to fix his heater over the offseason, specifically working on his spin rate and efficiency.

The super early returns are promising.

Paddack was sharp and efficient Monday in his Cactus League debut, firing two hitless innings against the Cubs. He walked one batter, struck out three and needed just 22 pitches to navigate through his two electric frames.

“That’s exactly what we wanted to see,” manager Jayce Tingler said. “That’s the way he’s been throwing the ball all through camp. … Obviously, adrenaline goes today and facing really good hitters on that side, for him to carry that in, it was a great step.”

Paddack is likely going to pretty much be a two-pitch pitcher again in 2021, pairing his fastball with a devastating changeup (his curveball and cutter combined represented only about 10 percent of his pitches in 2020). However, he should be able to get away with that if he can rediscover the elite command which made him so effective in his rookie season.

Paddack has been going outside the top-100 picks so far in NFBC drafts, but he could improve that positioning with a strong Cactus League showing.

Bum Shoulder for Bogaerts

If the Red Sox are going to bounce back from their disappointing 2020 season, they’re going to need Xander Bogaerts to do his thing in the middle of their lineup. However, at least at the beginning of the Grapefruit League schedule, he’s not going to be in their lineup.

Bogaerts reported soreness in his right shoulder early on in camp and has been shut down from throwing. Manager Alex Cora believes Bogaerts having to alter his offseason throwing program to be the culprit.

“He rushed himself with his throwing program during the off-season,” Cora said. “With everything that’s going on with the virus, there were a few things he wasn’t able to do in Aruba because of lockdowns or whatever they had going on down there, for the right reasons. It wasn’t a regular offseason on that end. He was able to hit and all that but his throwing program wasn’t perfect. He rushed himself, he was sore for a few days. We shut him down.”

Cora does expect Bogaerts to resume throwing and taking grounders in a few days. It’s not clear when he might be cleared for game action. Bogaerts did undergo a precautionary MRI, which revealed “nothing concerning,” according to chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom.

Bloom also added that “we should have the time we need” to get Bogaerts ready in time for Opening Day. Cora concurred, saying, “as of now, we do feel he should be ready for Opening Day.”

Bogaerts has been the 31st player overall and seventh shortstop off the board to date in NFBC drafts.

Other Injuries of Note:

* Brandon Woodruff had been scheduled to make his first start of this Cactus League season on Tuesday, but he’s been pushed back due to some back stiffness. The hope is that he will be ready to go later this week. “We’re maybe 2-3 days behind is what I would tell you,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “… We built space into Woody’s schedule. In fact, he came into camp ahead of schedule, actually. You try to build in space in case things like this happen.”

* Brandon Belt has yet to participate in workouts in Giants camp because of a “non-COVID illness” which has had him “wiped out,” per manager Gabe Kapler. “He continues to improve, but he’s still lacking some energy. It’s getting a little bit better, but that’s where we are with him.” The first baseman already was not a given to be ready in time for Opening Day after having surgery last October to remove a bone spur from his right heel. Obviously, the illness doesn’t help his chances of getting ramped up in time.

* Jesse Winker was scratched from the Reds’ lineup Monday because of soreness in his right hip. Manager David Bell said the move was “very precautionary,” adding that he believes Winker is sore because he “really ramped up fast” at the start of camp. The outfielder could be sidelined for a few more days, but it doesn’t sound like a big deal. Winker is competing with Shogo Akiyama for playing time in left field.

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American League Quick Hits: Matt Chapman (hip) went 1-for-3 with a double in Monday's Cactus League game against the Reds in his first action since last September’s hip surgery … Shohei Ohtani hit a pair of singles and scored two runs as the Angels played to a five-inning 4-4 tie with the White Sox on Monday in the Cactus League. He is slated to make his first pitching appearance of the spring on either Thursday or Friday … Gary Sanchez crushed a long homer over the batter’s eye and walked in his two plate appearances against the Tigers on Monday … Alex Cobb threw a scoreless inning in his Cactus League debut Monday versus the White Sox, showing improved velocity in the outing … Shane Bieber allowed four runs -- three earned -- over 1 2/3 innings in his Cactus League debut Monday versus the Royals … Jameson Taillon was sharp in his spring debut Monday, throwing a scoreless frame against the Tigers as he showed off his revamped mechanics … Robbie Ray threw 24 strikes among his 26 pitches while giving up one run in two innings versus the Pirates on Monday … Anthony Rendon was held out of Monday's Cactus League game due to "soreness,” per Angels manager Joe Maddon. It’s considered minor … Joey Wendle exited Monday's game after being hit in the helmet by a pitch, but he said after the contest that he’s fine … Kevin Kiermaier (hip) took batting practice on the field Monday … Tigers prospect infielder Spencer Torkelson (finger) could be ready to play a couple of innings in Tuesday's Grapefruit League contest.

National League Quick Hits: Trevor Bauer tossed two scoreless innings in his Cactus League debut Monday afternoon against the Rockies … Corbin Burnes tallied two strikeouts in a scoreless inning Monday in his Cactus League debut against the Diamondbacks, hitting 98 mph on the radar gun … Kyle Hendricks threw two scoreless innings in the Cubs' Cactus League opener Monday against the Padres … Freddy Peralta struck out three of the five batters he faced in a scoreless inning Monday against the Diamondbacks … Sandy Alcantara didn’t notch a strikeout but blanked the Mets for two innings in his start Monday … Mitch Keller surrendered two runs and three hits in an inning Monday in his start versus the Blue Jays, although he did touch 97 mph on the radar gun … Chris Taylor will be out for a few days after waking up with a stiff neck … Mets manager Luis Rojas said Monday that Brandon Nimmo will probably be the team's primary leadoff man.